Winter is Coming – Prepare Yourself

Today we start to change gears and prepare for the change of seasons. Summer is coming to a close. We’re already seeing temperatures drop around Philly, with our highs falling from the 90s into the 80s. It’ll be a cooler, more comfortable week this week, with temperatures well on their way to the chilly fall norms. Now is about the time to make sure your heating system is ready for a long, busy season.


Why Check the Heater?

For most people in the northern most parts of the US and elsewhere in the world, our heating systems have been dormant all summer long. You could have old, gross filters still in the system or discover a mouse has eaten the thermostat wires. There’s also that always looming spectre of hardware failure, when an old part has finally gotten old enough to just give out. It’s warm now and your AC is still running, so you don’t need your heating system yet. Your contractor can have the system apart for a good few weeks, you can use cheaper, slower shipping, and suffer no ill effects for it.

This is also a good time for simple, routine maintenance. You can take this opportunity to swap out your air filters, have your chimney cleaned, clean out the furnace, and so on. Different system designs accumulate differenent maintenance needs. Oil burners often need a good cleaning to remove soot, for example.


What Do I Need To Do?

The specific maintenance will vary from system to system, but your HVAC Contractor will know what your system needs. In general, you’ll do things like:

  1. Replace the filters
    We’ll never stop reminding people to do this. Replace the gross, old air filters.
  2. Replace the fuel filter
    There is a fuel filter on most systems that removes contaminants like dirt and chunks of rust from the fuel supply. These filters need to be periodically changed like the oil filter in a car.
  3. Clean the burner combustion chamber
    The fuel doesn’t burn 100% cleanly. There will be some particulate residue left over. This eventually builds up inside the combustion chamber and needs to be removed for the system to run efficiently.
  4. Replace worn fan belts
    Belts are generally quick and easy to replace, but it is still better to replace them sooner than later. If a belt fails mid-season, you could go a day or two before a replacement gets installed. That’s a day or two without heat.
  5. Clean your vents or radiators
    It’s been a long summer with potentially no air flow around your heating vents and radiators. That means dirt has had a good chance to collect. This will slow airflow and create awful smells when the system runs, like a dirty filter. It’s best to clean it now.
  6. Test that the system functions correctly
    Once all the routine maintenance is done, it’s essential to start the system up and let it run to ensure there are no further issues waiting to bite you come winter. Most problems can be detected with a visual inspection, but things like a failed rollout switch are not apparent until the system shuts down.


If anything is found to be out of place, like a failed burner or motor, you can order it now, remain comfortable in your AC, and have it replaced any time in the next few weeks without any loss of comfort or emergency repair fees. This pre-emptive maintenance will save you time, money, and loads of stress.

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