What’s on Your Fall Season HVAC To-Do List?
The days are getting milder around Atlanta. With highs in the mid-70s, air conditioners are running fewer cycles. Pretty soon - and it always happens before you realize it - you'll be changing the setting on your thermostat to "heat."
Fall, it seems, is nearly upon us. And when it comes to HVAC, it's a great time of year to perform routine maintenance and apply fixes that improve year-round comfort.
Here are a few items to put on your fall season to-do list:
1. Schedule an HVAC inspection and maintenance visit.
It's important to make sure your heating equipment is in top shape before winter. During the fall, we perform regular tune-ups and inspections of HVAC systems. The emphasis, of course, is on furnace and electric heating system maintenance.
After all, you want to catch heating problems before they become problems. That's why our fall inspection includes tasks like:
- Checking the condition of your heat exchanger using a combustion analyzer
- Inspecting your flue pipe and draft diverter
- Testing the blower capacitor
- Checking the blower motor AMP draw
- Checking the inducer motor AMP draw
- Inspecting the cleanliness of your blower assembly
- Testing heat rise
- Checking the pilot light and hot surface ignitor
- Inspecting ductwork
- Monitoring safety: CO leaks, gas leaks, and nearby combustibles
2. Monitor your relative humidity.
Air conditioners have two basic functions:
- lowering the temperature inside your home (by removing heat)
- reducing the relative humidity (by removing moisture)
In early fall, your air conditioner isn't running as often. That's fine when it comes to temperature. Who needs AC when it's 70 degrees outdoors? But when it comes to humidity, not running your air conditioner could be a problem if you're not removing enough humidity to stay comfortable.
In some homes, it's no big deal. The AC isn't on, but you still feel good. However, in other homes, people feel clammy or sweaty in spite of the supposedly "comfortable" temperature. Ever felt that way in the fall? If you have, you might have a humidity problem.
To find out for sure, get a humidistat and start monitoring your relative humidity! Available for just a few dollars online or at home improvement stores, a battery-powered humidistat can track the relative humidity, or RH, in your home all through the fall.
If it's consistently above 65% RH, that means your air conditioner isn't running enough to remove humidity. There are three things you can do:
- Lower the temperature on your thermostat. This probably isn't ideal because you'll be running the AC when the temperature is in the 60s or low 70s. You'll be cold.
- Install a variable speed air conditioning system. If your AC is nearing the end of its life, replacing it with a variable speed unit can help with humidity. The AC will run more often during the fall, but at a lower speed. Since cycles are longer, it can help you keep humidity at an acceptable level. The problem? Sometimes RH is high at times when the outdoor temperature is low enough to keep the AC from running at all. That's why it sometimes makes even more sense to…
- Install a whole-house-dehumidifier. We've written about dehumidifiers before. Whole-house units tie into your existing HVAC system. When the humidity is too high (and your AC is between cycles or set to "off"), the dehumidifier turns on and reduces humidity to a comfortable level - usually 50% RH.
3. Schedule big HVAC or home performance projects.
Need to replace your HVAC system, add a dehumidifier, or perform energy efficiency improvements in your attic or crawlspace? Fall is a much better time to do those things than summer or winter.
The reason? You might be without AC or heat for a few days. In October, that's not as big of a problem as it is in mid-July or the first week of February.
The same goes for home performance projects. If you're air sealing or adding insulation to your attic, we have to keep the attic hatch open all day - maybe multiple days. It's better to do these things during the fall when you're not as reliant on mechanical systems to stay comfortable.
4. Take advantage of special financing or cash back.
If you decide to install new HVAC equipment during the fall (smart choice!), ask us about special financing. During spring and fall, we can often offer 0% APR for 24 to 72 months* (see note) depending on the type of system.
Paying with cash? We also offer cash back incentives when you don't use special financing. Your system ends up costing less than sticker!
And, remember, new HVAC equipment might not cost as much as you think it does.
So go ahead and enjoy the fall! Just don't forget about HVAC fixes.
We'll be performing lots of fall inspections by October, so now is a great time to schedule yours. Even if you don't need new equipment this year, it's important to make sure your existing system will get you through the heating season.
In the meantime, pull out the coats and blankets, watch the leaves change color, and enjoy those lower utility bills. Winter will be here before you know it. And you'll be ready.