4 Ways to Get Your Heating System Ready For Fall

As the long summer finally draws to a close, and temperatures start to fall, it’s time to focus on getting your heating system ready for the heating season. While Phoenix is blessed with a very mild winter, temperatures can approach or even reach freezing overnight lows. That’s why it’s important to get your heater ready to face any potential challenges the season might bring. Here are four easy ways to gets your heating system ready for fall.

1. Schedule maintenance

Unlike air conditioners, heaters are left untouched for most of the year. This long dormancy period can lead to issues such as cracks, dust buildup, and damage from the elements. If unchecked, these issues can lead to everything from expensive repairs and annoying breakdowns to a premature replacement of the system. Before you fire up your heater for the first time this winter, it’s important to have it inspected by a professional. With our exclusive 26-point maintenance plan, we check your heating system from top to bottom, making sure all the vital components are ready for the upcoming cool temperatures. Our 26-point maintenance plan includes:

  • Checking and adjust belt
  • Inspecting gas valves and connectors
  • Checking combustion air
  • Inspecting heat exchanger
  • Checking burners
  • Cleaning ignition assembly
  • Monitoring flue draft
  • Testing starting capabilities
  • Measuring volts/amps on motors
  • Testing safety controls
  • And more

2. Change your filters

Dirty filters physically block warm air from entering your home. This means that your heater may be doing its job, but if your filters are dirty, the warm air won’t make it past the vents. Dirty filters also decrease the efficiency of your system. Replacing a dirty filter with a clean one can lower the system’s energy consumption by anywhere from 5 to 15%. We recommend that you change your filters every month to ensure that your system can always work at its best.

3. Look out for new or unusual noises

Home heating systems aren’t always quiet. For example, it’s normal to hear some noise when the system starts up, along with occasional clicks and pops. But some noises can signal signs of trouble, particularly if they seem to come out of nowhere. These include:

Banging

Banging noises are usually a sign that an internal party has come loose. It could be that a screw, spring, or bolt needs to be tightened. Or, a component may have shifted out of place. In either case, this problem should be addressed immediately.

Whistling

Whistling is often caused by low airflow. The most common culprits of low airflow are blocked air vents or dirty air filters. Whistling can also be caused by a loose or damaged seal somewhere in the unit.

Screeching, screaming, or squealing

A shrill, sharp, and unpleasant screeching or squealing noise can indicate several possible problems. Components like the blower wheel and fan motor will make this sort of noise when they’re in need of replacement. Sometimes, adding lubricant can help quiet down a noisy motor. Screeching can also be a sign of a damaged belt or faulty bearings.

4. Check your thermostat

Your thermostat is the command center of your entire HVAC system. It sends the signals on when to start, end, and continue a heating cycle. If your thermostat isn’t working properly, or is sending the wrong signals, it can lead to frustrations with uneven heating. Before you turn on your heater for the first time, start by making sure your thermostat batteries are still good to go.

If you’re unsure of how to replace your thermostat batteries, consult your owner’s manual for instructions specifically tailored to your model. In general, to replace your thermostat batteries in a thermostat that does not have an external battery compartment, you’ll follow these steps:

  • Pull the thermostat box off its wall mounted plate.
  • Turn the box over and use a small screwdriver to open the battery slot.
  • Discard the old batteries and replace them with new ones, then close the battery slot.
  • Put the thermostat box back onto the wall mount and slide it down until you hear it snap or click back in place.

If your thermostat has an external battery compartment, press down on the top right corner of the thermostat to reveal the compartment. Then, remove the compartment to replace the batteries before snapping it back into place.

Thermostat calibration

If your thermostat isn’t reading the temperature of the room completely, it won’t send the right signals to your furnace. This leads to rooms that feel too cold, or too hot, for comfort. The way to fix this is by recalibrating the thermostat. But first, you’ll need to verify that it needs to be recalibrated.

To do this, you’ll need the following:

  • Glass tube thermometer
  • Tape
  • Paper towel

Start by taping the glass tube thermometer to the wall, a few inches away from your thermostat. You don’t want the thermometer to directly touch the wall, so pad it with a paper towel. Turn your thermostat on and wait 15 minutes before comparing temperature readings.

If the difference between what your thermostat says and what the thermometer says is more than a degree, your thermostat may need to be recalibrated. This is usually done as part of annual heater maintenance, but you can have it done at any point in the heating season.

5. Check the pilot light (if you have one)

Many modern furnaces are powered by electronic ignition, but older homes likely still have furnaces with standing pilot flames, otherwise known as pilot lights. When the thermostat sends the signal, the pilot light ignites the gas, which in turn heats the air in the combustion chamber. If the pilot light fails, this process doesn’t happen, and the furnace fails to turn on.

It’s possible to relight the pilot on your own. However, if you feel uncomfortable doing so, don’t hesitate to call a professional. For safety reasons, we recommend that you use either a long fireplace match or an 11-inch gas lighter to re-light the pilot, rather than a standard match or handheld lighter.

  1. Turn your thermostat to a temperature that will demand heat—for example, 80 degrees.
  2. Locate the pilot valve on the furnace. This is a box-shaped device typically located near the gas burners. It will have a knob with options along the lines of ON, PILOT, and OFF.
  3. Turn the knob to the OFF position. Then, wait 3-5 minutes for residual gas to clear.
  4. Turn the knob to PILOT and prepare to light the pilot.
  5. Place the tip of your lighter at the pilot, while simultaneously depressing the knob to maintain gas flow.
  6. Once the pilot stays lit, slowly withdraw your lighter and release the knob. Then, turn the knob from PILOT to ON. This will ignite the burners.

If the burners fail to ignite, repeat the above steps.

We’re here to help with all your heating needs

Whether it’s a routine tune-up or an emergency repair, Chas Roberts is here for all your heating needs. Contact us to get started.

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