Now that summer in Southern California is winding down, it’s a great time to schedule your autumn maintenance services. Here are 12 tips to make sure that your heating, cooling, and plumbing systems are ready for the cooler temperatures and upcoming winter months.
1. Change the Filters
The filters in your HVAC system trap tiny particles that float through the air, such as dust, bacteria, mold, pollen, and viruses. You should change the filters according to the manufacturer’s recommendation or at least twice per year. Even if the filters look clean, they are likely filled with tiny particles that you cannot see. Starting in the autumn with clean filters ensures that your family can breathe easy this winter, and it also reduces the amount of time that you spend cleaning. Now is also a great time to consider upgrading your filters to capture even the smallest particles, such as odors and pet dander. The experts at We Care Plumbing, Heating, & Air can help you find high-quality HEPA filters that work with your HVAC equipment.
2. Check Your Vents
Vents are an ideal place for dirt, dust, pollen, and even small debris to accumulate over the summer. Cleaning your vents is easy to do. We recommend that you wear a mask for the job. Simply remove the vent cover, vacuum the immediate interior of the duct, and wipe it down with an anti-bacterial cleaner and moist sponge. You don’t need to go very far into the ducts. Just as far as you can comfortably reach. If you want a more extensive cleaning, you can schedule an appointment with We Care Plumbing, Heating, & Air for our duct cleaning service. If you find quite a bit of debris inside the vents, it may be time to consider one of our indoor air quality products.
3. Test Your Thermostat
Testing your thermostat ensures that your heater will run when you need it this winter. Switch the thermostat to the heat position and set it to a higher temperature. Give the system a few seconds to turn on, and check to see if warm air is coming out of the vents. If the system does not turn on within a short amount of time, schedule an appointment with one of our technicians. We can also help you reduce energy costs this winter with modern programmable digital thermostats, as well as zone systems for your HVAC equipment.
4. Inspect the Condenser Drain Line
The condenser of your heating and cooling system helps to remove heat from the air for cooling and heating in your home. The heat exchange process creates condensation that is removed through a small drain in the exterior unit. Your system also has a condenser drain line that can get clogged with dirt over the summer. Rinse out the line and check the drain to prevent water from pooling inside the unit and possibly burning out the motor.
5. Disconnect Garden Hoses
Although we live in southern California, climate change has made winter conditions much more unpredictable. Residents need to be prepared for anything by winterizing their plumbing systems. Make sure to disconnect your garden hoses in the autumn and store them in a shed or garage. The water inside the hoses can freeze and expand at lower temperatures.
6. Check Outdoor Faucets
When you are removing the garden hoses, make sure to check the exterior faucets for any drips or signs of leaks. If the faucet does not close properly, it is more vulnerable to freezing. The ice build-up can go into the pipes of your home and cause broken and burst pipes.
7. Protect Faucets
Exterior faucets can be further protected with insulating covers that you can find at a local home improvement store. You can also wrap the faucet in a small towel. Just make sure to secure it tightly with duct tape. You want to make sure that the entire faucet is covered and that there are no openings for cold air to get through.
8. Clean the Gutters
Cleaning your gutters should be done at the end of summer, as well as near the end of autumn. Removing leaves, twigs, and other debris keeps the water running off your roof properly. Any water that collects in the gutters or on your roof may freeze this winter. The weight of the ice and snow can damage the materials and even cause the roof to fail in the coldest temperatures.
9. Insulate Your Pipes
People who live in colder parts of the country are used to protecting their pipes in the winter, but those of us who live in southern California need to make this a best practice for our homes. You can find pipe insulation sleeves at a local hardware store. The sleeves are round and cut on one side to slip over the pipes. The key areas to cover are where the pipes are exposed, such as under your sinks.
10. Drain and Clean Your Water Heater
Minerals from city water collect inside your water heater. Over time, the minerals stick to the interior of the tank and create small colonies. These colonies can break down the tank shell and interrupt the flow of water into and out of the tank. Autumn is a great time to drain the water heater and clean it. If you aren’t sure how to do this safely, give us a call. We will set up an appointment with one of our technicians to clean the water heater for you.
11. Seal Doors and Windows
Wintertime is when most southern California homeowners notice drafts in their homes. Before the outdoor temperatures cool down, check all the doors and windows in your home for gaps around the frames. You can hold a piece of paper in front of the frame to see if it moves inward with any air drafts. You can use a standard window and door caulking material to seal up any openings.
12. Check Your Insulation
If you have access to your attic, check your insulation. Like other materials used to build your home, insulation has a specific lifetime. If the insulation is broken down or not positioned properly, it may be time to have it replaced. Good insulation reduces runtime for your HVAC equipment, and this can extend its life span before you need to have the heating and cooling units replaced. If you have an older home, you can also upgrade the insulation to save money on utility costs.
Learn More Autumn Maintenance Tips
We Care Plumbing, Heating, & Air offers professional repair, maintenance, and installation services for heating, cooling, and plumbing systems. For more autumn maintenance tips, give us a call. You can also schedule an appointment to have one of our technicians come to your home and take care of the maintenance for you. Be sure to ask about our indoor quality products, bathroom remodeling services, and water quality products.