How To Prevent Heating System Breakdowns

How To Prevent Heating System Breakdowns

Virginia is no stranger to cold winters, and you don't want to spend a day without your heating system. Breakdowns are, unfortunately, a common occurrence during the colder months as people rely heavily on their heater to keep their home warm and cozy. Heating repairs can range from several hundred to thousands of dollars; most people don't have that kind of money lying around, which makes preventative maintenance all the more important!

Read on to learn how to prevent your heating system from breaking down as well as how to improve its efficiency year-round.

Schedule a Tune-Up ASAP

If you haven't had a seasonal tune-up prior to winter, there's no time like the present to book an appointment with a licensed HVAC technician. One of our professionals can come out and take a look at your home's system, inspecting it from top to bottom and ensuring it’s optimized to run effortlessly.

A heating system tune-up consists of many tasks including checking the seals in your ducts, replacing your air filter, thermostat calibration, cleaning burners and inspecting your pilot system.

Replace Your Thermostat's Batteries Annually

A low-powered thermostat can cause your heater to short-cycle and put a strain on your system. Working harder to produce less heat raises your energy bill and causes your heater to wear out before its time. One of the most unexpected causes of furnace breakdowns is the thermostat.

Replacing your batteries at least once a year can help prevent your heating system from shutting down at a moment's notice and leaving you in the cold.

Prioritize Your Home’s Airflow

Proper air circulation plays a much larger role than you might think when it comes to system efficiency. Apart from making your home more comfortable and evenly heated, good airflow also optimizes your system's ability to cycle hot air. You may have heard that closing vents in unused rooms is a good way to lower your heating bill, but this isn't always true. In fact, obstructing airflow by blocking or sealing vents can actually put greater strain on your system.

You should also keep your doors open to promote proper ventilation; the heating and cooling system in your house is designed to carry air throughout the home, so any room that has a vent in it should be open for air to easily pass through.

In addition, set your ceiling fans to spin clockwise on the lowest setting in the winter, which will help spread warm air throughout the home.

Clean Your Air Filter or Install a New One

Air filters aren't just for your air conditioning unit. A furnace air filter protects your system from dirt and debris, which winds up clogging internal mechanisms and blowing unclean air into your home. There are different types of air filters you can buy depending on your needs; filters with higher MERV ratings are better at removing certain types of contaminants from the air, which may be necessary if you have pets, smoke or high levels of dust in your home.

Cleaning and replacing air filters when needed:

  • Prevents a build-up of mold-causing bacteria in your ducts.

  • Keep your heating and cooling system clean and less likely to break down.

  • Reduces strain on the system's output, improving performance while increasing comfort and lowering costs.

Air filters with plastic frames are designed to be reused, so you'll have to follow the manufacturer's instructions and clean it regularly. If you're unsure how to change your furnace air filter or need suggestions on which type you should buy, we are happy to take a look at your system and provide professional recommendations.

Know the Warning Signs of an Impending Breakdown

There are many signs that your heating system is in need of a technician's TLC before it shuts down completely. By researching the signs of a furnace problem, you can eliminate the guesswork and know exactly when it's time to call a professional. Some of the most important, can't-miss signs you need a repair are continuous short-cycling or stopping, a constant burning smell or clanging, hissing or screeching coming from the vents.

It's never a good idea to let problems go and hope they'll resolve on your own. If your heater cries out for help, listen. Although you may think you're sparing yourself the cost of a service call by leaving things unattended, you'll spend far more if a problem is left untreated and a repair job turns into a full-blown replacement.

Don't Forget to Clean Outside

Your lawn and landscaping can influence how well your heating and air conditioning unit works. Outdoor unit heat pumps reverse the refrigeration cycle to warm air from the outdoors and deliver it into your home. If your outdoor unit is buried in ice or snow, obstructed by overgrown shrubs and grass or collecting sticks and leaves, you're likely to experience a full-system problem.

Routine maintenance includes removing any debris that's obstructing your outside unit. Doing so will prevent foreign objects from getting sucked into the unit. You can also clean the exterior when the weather is above freezing by using a coil cleaner and a hose.

One of our professional technicians can clean your entire unit and walk you through the steps so you're prepared to do it yourself at least twice a year. Ideally, you'll want to clean your HVAC outside unit once in the fall before the temperature drops too low and just before summer hits and you switch to air conditioning.

Your Virginia Heating Repair and Installation Needs Covered

Contact My Plumber Heating and Cooling today to schedule an appointment with one of our licensed HVAC technicians. We offer heating, cooling, electrical and plumbing services throughout Northern Virginia and Maryland. With our team, your comfort always comes first.