When you live in Central Virginia, winter weather can range from a light dusting of snow to a torrential downpour. Richmond and the surrounding communities receive an average of 12 inches of snow each year. That translates to many bone-chilling days and nights when you'll rely on your heater for warmth and comfort. Whatever Old Man Winter brings your way, your heating system is likely to get a serious workout. Will your heater come through for you when you need it the most?
System Wear and Tear
As outdoor temperatures plunge, if your heating system is not efficient or programmed correctly, it will cycle on more often and run longer. Just as your car needs extra care before extended trips, your heater needs extra attention for the long haul too. You can avoid expensive repairs and untimely breakdowns by scheduling preventive maintenance before the onset of severe winter weather. Professional tuneups help safeguard you against the wear and tear that continual operation inflicts on critical components:
- Increased usage can cause friction in motors that lack proper lubrication.
- Thermostats can malfunction, making it impossible to maintain comfortable temperatures.
- Dust, dirt and allergens can accumulate in ducts and damage essential parts.
- Filters can become dirty or clogged, impacting airflow, performance and indoor air quality.
- Electrical connections can loosen, corrode or stop working altogether.
Health and Safety Hazards
If you have a combustible heating system like a gas furnace, a pre-season checkup is a must. A number of dangerous and corrosive by-products are created when fuel burns within the sealed combustion chamber. Leaks or blockages caused by corrosion pose fire hazards and allow gases like carbon monoxide (CO) to infiltrate living spaces. Your trusted HVAC expert will inspect the entire system to ensure that the dangerous exhaust is properly vented outdoors.
No matter what kind of heater you have, it's important to keep flammable materials away from the equipment. Never use your heater to dry wet clothing or damp shoes. Other safety steps to take during the winter heating season include:
- Checking floor registers and air vents often to ensure they're not obstructed by furnishings or draperies.
- Making sure that you have a working CO detector to alert you to the presence of any leaks.
- Installing a smoke detector and testing the batteries every month during the winter season.
Split HVAC systems like heat pumps have components that are housed in an outdoor unit. Many heat pumps can still deliver heating comfort even when snow lies on the ground. However, it's important to keep the area around the unit free of debris that might clog or damage the equipment. Vegetation should be trimmed back to provide at least two feet of clearance.
While outdoor units are built to withstand harsh weather, they sometimes need added protection. Because the compressor inside the unit needs adequate airflow to operate properly, avoid covering it with a non-porous tarp. HVAC manufacturers offer breathable covers to safeguard the unit against severe weather like hail storms. HVAC providers with sheet metal fabrication services like your team at Air Excellence, Inc. can also create custom equipment guards for you.
Staying warm and comfortable isn't the only challenge during a long, cold winter in the Richmond region. Running your heater more often drives up your home's energy consumption too. Higher utility bills and heating expenses can be tough on your budget. If your existing heater is wasting a lot of energy, a high-efficiency replacement can save you money. Today's heating systems operate far more efficiently than those produced just a decade ago. Equipped with features that adapt to your personal preferences, they deliver a higher level of comfort as well.
Serving the communities of Central Virginia since 1997, Air Excellence, Inc. is proud to offer HVAC solutions for your winter comfort challenges. For more information about effective ways to stay warm and comfortable all winter, explore our HVAC services or call us today at 804-885-3888.
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