The best time to check the heating component of an HVAC system is well before the cold weather sets in. In this way, the HVAC professional can troubleshoot minor problems that interfere with the system's ability to deliver enough heat to keep the household comfortable. Clearly, it's better to do this while the weather is still warm than to find out that there's a problem in the middle of a cold night. The following are some aspects of an HVAC check-up for fall and winter:

What the Homeowner Can Do

Not everything needs to be done by a professional when it comes to an HVAC check-up. One easy thing that a homeowner can do is change or clean the filters in their system. Some filters need to be replaced when they are dirty, while others can be washed with the garden hose, dried and returned. For a furnace filter, this job should be done about once a month.

The areas around steam and hot water heater radiators should also be vacuumed at least once a month. Just before the heating season they should be cleaned wth a radiator brush.

A homeowner who uses a space heater should avoid extension cords. However, if an extension cord is needed, it should be at least 14 gauge. The homeowner should inspect it first to make sure it's not frayed or cracked. To save energy, the cord should be unplugged when the heater is not in use. Another money saving tip is to turn the thermostat just a couple of degrees lower than the homeowner usually likes it in the winter.

What the Professional Does

The HVAC professional checks to make sure that the thermostat is working properly. This includes making sure the shut down and start-up cycles are working the right way. They'll check the electrical system for any connections that are loose or broken, and lubricate the heating system's moving parts such as fan belts. This not only keeps them working smoothly but keeps them from wearing out before their time.

The professional also makes sure that furnace or boiler drains are draining properly and not clogged. Clogged drains encourage the growth of mold and can add uncomfortable levels of humidity to the air. They can also damage the furnace or boiler, and shorten their lifespan.

If the homeowner isn't in the habit of checking the filters themselves, the HVAC professional will do this. Since checking, replacing or cleaning filters are simple procedures, the HVAC professional can teach the homeowners how to do this.

The professional should also check the ductwork every few years.

Some HVAC companies offer their clients service contracts that have the professionals automatically come to the house and check the HVAC system before the cooling or heating system for a monthly fee. This not only saves money but usually send out annual reminders of service maintenance dates. These service contracts, like the Happy Hiller Club, also make the customer a priority in case of emergencies and even offer them discounts when it comes to new HVAC equipment.