In preparation for winter, as you inventory your supply of hats and gloves, you may also want to take stock of your HVAC system—especially your furnace.
Not only are HVAC system interruptions costly, but during the wrong season they can be extremely uncomfortable, even dangerous. Because you're going to be relying heavily on your HVAC system to keep you comfortable and safe this winter, it's a good idea to have all of its components cleaned and checked beforehand.
Your furnace is one of the most expensive and valuable appliances in your home. Before you call it into service for 6 months straight, do the right thing and have your furnace cleaned and checked. Even something as seemingly minor as a faulty flame sensor or ignitor can stop it cold. Further, your furnace works more efficiently when it's cleaned of debris that hinders air flow, so do your wallet a favor and have it serviced before the winter marathon. If you're one of those reactive personality types who thinks about your furnace only when it's not performing as expected, try being proactive this year!
Air Duct Cleaning
The transition from cooling to heating (or vice versa) is a good time to consider HVAC system cleaning. A lot of dirt and contaminants build up in your air ducts over time. This accumulation of debris recirculates throughout the system—through the return vents to the furnace and A-coil, then back into your living space via the supply vents. Before you close up your house for 6 months, make your lungs happy and have your air ducts cleaned of all of the debris within, to keep your indoor air as clean as it can be
The recommendation on frequency for chimney sweeping is approximately every 50 fires. Do you know how many fires you've lit since the last time your chimney was cleaned? Most people don't. Embarking on a season of heavy usage, best practice would be to have it cleaned beforehand to avoid the danger of a chimney fire due to excessive creosote buildup. By having your chimney swept in the early fall, you'll also conveniently avoid the pre-holiday rush that inundates chimney sweeps from mid-October to late December. Also, having the service performed before the snow falls will still allow for the technician to climb your roof if necessary. It is a rare technician who would agree to climb an ice-slicked roof, and you may in that case have to delay the service until spring.
Dryer Vent Cleaning
Though not technically part of your HVAC system, the dryer vent line often gets lumped in with it because they both include ducts and vents, and the tools used to clean dryer vents and air ducts are similar. A buildup of lint in the dryer vent system is an extreme fire hazard, so consider having your dryer vent cleaned when you clean the various components of your HVAC system. In the case where your dryer vents onto the roof, you'll want to ensure you request the service before the snow falls, when your roof is still safe to climb. Add a "multiple services discount" into the mix, and you should have all the incentive you need to group your services together in the fall.
Multiple Services Discount
Many companies offer a multiple services discount as an incentive for customers to consider additional services--the company's savings on travel time and fuel is given back to the customer as a discount. (Twin Cities Furnace Cleaning offers $30 off every additional service performed on the same visit.) If you have 4 services performed, this could save you almost $100. So grouping all of your HVAC services together on one visit not only eases the task of remembering how long ago/how often you had each of them done, but it can save you quite a bit of money as well.
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Many thanks to our technicians Ben S and Nick M for lending their expertise to this article.