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HVAC Woes in Winter

If there’s one thing you don’t want, it’s for your HVAC system to go out in the middle of winter. HVAC contractors are often busy on emergency calls at that time of year, and you’re likely to wait in the cold for an HVAC technician to work you into the schedule. How can you avoid needing HVAC repair at an inconvenient time? Keep up with regular maintenance, and know how to spot common seasonal issues before they turn into major problems. Here, we explain some of the top winter HVAC problems, so you’ll be prepared.

Frozen Pipes

If you live in a place where the temperatures regularly plunge below freezing in the winter, pipes can easily freeze. Even if the daytime temperatures are above the freezing point, as soon as the sun goes down, pipes can freeze quickly, and the resultant pressure buildup can cause them to burst. What does this have to do with your HVAC system? Ice can build up on coils, and hydronic systems that use hot water circulation and steam to heat the home can suffer damage then pipes freeze and burst. How do you know if this is becoming an issue? You may notice decreased water pressure, banging or gurgling sounds when you run the water, or strange odors coming from the drain. Looking at your pipes, you might see condensation or notice that they’re bulging. If you fear your pipes have frozen, turn off the water and raise the temperature of the affected pipes, using space heaters, towels, heating pads, or a hair dryer.

Faulty Airflow

Have you noticed that one room in your house is colder than the others? This could be caused by restricted airflow. Check your vents to make sure they’re not blocked by a piece of furniture or a mislaid box. If this isn’t the problem, it could be that a pipe is disconnected from the air supply vents, or a buildup of dust and dirt in the system is blocking the airflow. Restricted airflow can also be caused by a blocked fan or problems with the filter or furnace motor. Restricted or uneven airflow can cause the rooms in your home to be heated unevenly, with spots of hot and cold throughout your house.

Dirty Filters

If you don’t regularly clean and replace your filters, they can become clogged with dust, hair, and debris. This can reduce air circulation and increase wear and tear on your HVAC system. Dirty filters reduce your system’s lifespan and make it less energy-efficient, so keep up with filter maintenance. Inspect your air filters regularly, and change them as recommended by the manufacturer, typically every one to three months.

Trouble with the Thermostat

A thermostat is not something you typically think about replacing, but eventually, even the most durable thermostat will falter. Wires come loose, sensors malfunction, computer chips will fail, and the unit’s calibration will be thrown out of whack. When this happens, the thermostat will not be able to control the temperature of your home effectively. You may need thermostat repair, but in most cases it’s better to just install a new thermostat. Choosing a smart thermostat when you’re replacing an old faulty one can help cut energy costs as well as heating and cooling your home efficiently. How do you know if your thermostat is beginning to fail? Inconsistent temperatures, thermostat issues that persist after you’ve changed the batteries, a blank display indicating the thermostat has no power, or a furnace that doesn’t turn on or off automatically are all signs of a failing thermostat.

Carbon Monoxide Leaks

A CO leak is not only inconvenient, but also dangerous. Carbon monoxide is a toxic gas that is formed by the incomplete combustion of natural gas. It’s odorless, so it can go undetected until it’s already caused health issues. Equipping your home with CO detectors is important for keeping your family safe, and so is repairing issues like loose pipes, a blocked chimney, a flickering pilot light, a blocked chimney, or a cracked heat exchange. A CO leak won’t keep your furnace from working, but it can cause symptoms like fatigue, lethargy, weakness, headaches, dizziness, blurred vision, difficulty breathing, confusion, nausea, cherry red skin coloration, or loss of consciousness. Because CO leaks are one of the primary killers of the winter season, have a CO detector on every floor, and have your heating system inspected regularly by a professional.

Trouble with Your Heat Pump or Furnace

Without regular maintenance, a furnace or heat pump can easily break down in the winter. These appliances can leak, their belts can break, heat exchangers can crack, and the fan motor can break. If your system has an exterior heat pump, ice and snow can damage it and ruin its efficacy. The best way to stay ahead of heat pump and furnace issues is to have your system inspected and routine maintenance performed every spring and fall.

Unstable Pilot Lights

If your pilot light is flickering, it could go out, leaving you without heat when temperature control is crucial. Most of the time, pilot lights go out because of a draft, or a clogged or damaged sensor. Check your system if your pilot light goes out; your vent cover may be attached incorrectly, or you may need to clean your sensor.

Energy Bills that Soar as Temperatures Plummet

If your energy bills are trending upward, there are a few things you need to consider. First, your HVAC system may be outdated, and you may need to consider installing a new, more energy efficient one. It could also be that your ducts are leaking, your windows and doors aren’t properly sealed, or your thermostat is malfunctioning, and if this is the case, you will need to have these issues addressed as quickly as possible. Consider having an energy audit, to pinpoint the cause of the problem. It could be as simple as a dirty filter, from a lack of preventative maintenance. Having a professional inspect and maintain your HVAC system is one way to stay on top of these issues and save money while also effectively heating your home all winter.

Call for HVAC Installation, Replacement, Service or Repair

Whether you need annual HVAC service or you have a problem with your heating system, contact Barstow and Sons for help. A full-service heating and cooling service company, we’ve been providing high-quality service to customers throughout Anne Arundel County, Severna Park, Pasadena, and Annapolis since 1980. We’ve built a reputation for our dedication to excellence, and we’re here for our customers 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Call (410) 777-9148 to learn more or contact us through our website.

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