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Fall and Winter HVAC Maintenance: The Essential Guide for Homeowners

Fall and Winter HVAC Checklists For Homeowners In London, ON - Ginger bread home at night with gold paper stars and moon

As the leaves begin to change and the temperatures drop, homeowners everywhere should consider the health and efficiency of their heating and cooling systems. A well-maintained HVAC system keeps the home cozy and ensures a prolonged lifespan for the equipment and decreased energy bills. MaxCare Heating & Cooling has created this comprehensive HVAC checklist to ensure your system is ready for the chill of fall and winter.

1. Replace or Clean the Air Filters

  • Reason: Filters trap dust, allergens, and other airborne particles. Over time, they become clogged, restricting airflow and reducing system efficiency.
  • Benefits: Regularly changed filters ensure better air quality, improve the system’s efficiency, and prolong its lifespan.
  • DIY or Professional: DIY, but if unsure about filter size or type, seek expert advice.

2. Inspect and Clean Air Vents and Ducts

  • Reason: Debris, mold, or obstructions in the ducts can impair airflow and affect indoor air quality.
  • Benefits: Clean vents and ducts help in efficient heating, reduce allergens and lower energy bills.
  • DIY or Professional: Basic cleaning is DIY, but deeper cleaning or mold issues require a professional.

3. Check the Thermostat

  • Reason: Ensuring the thermostat works correctly guarantees the home remains at the desired temperature.
  • Benefits: A functional thermostat ensures comfort and energy efficiency and reduces the strain on the HVAC system.
  • DIY or Professional: Basic troubleshooting is DIY, but an expert should handle significant repairs or replacements.

4. Examine the Outdoor Unit

  • Reason: Leaves, twigs, and other debris can accumulate around the outdoor unit, hindering its performance.
  • Benefits: A clear surrounding ensures the system runs efficiently and can prevent expensive repairs.
  • DIY or Professional: Clearing basic debris is DIY. For internal cleaning or addressing any damages, consult a professional.

5. Insulate the Home Properly

  • Reason: Insulation gaps can make the HVAC system work harder as warm air escapes and cold air seeps in.
  • Benefits: Proper insulation ensures consistent indoor temperatures, reduces energy consumption, and prolongs HVAC lifespan.
  • DIY or Professional: Small insulation tasks can be DIY, but a professional is recommended for extensive projects or checking insulation efficiency.

6. Check for Carbon Monoxide

  • Reason: HVAC systems, especially those that burn fuel, can produce carbon monoxide—a silent and deadly gas if not vented correctly.
  • Benefits: Regular checks keep occupants safe from potential CO poisoning.
  • DIY or Professional: Installing carbon monoxide detectors is DIY. However, if one suspects a leak, immediately contact a professional.

7. Drain Lines Inspection

  • Reason: Over time, drain lines can become clogged, leading to water backups and potential damage.
  • Benefits: Regularly inspected drain lines prevent water damage and ensure efficient functioning of the HVAC system.
  • DIY or Professional: Basic clearing can be DIY. For recurring clogs or deeper issues, a professional is advised.

8. System Operation Test

  • Reason: Testing ensures all HVAC system components are functioning as they should.
  • Benefits: Spotting and fixing small issues early on prevents them from becoming bigger, costlier problems in the future.
  • DIY or Professional: Basic operation checks can be DIY. An expert should assess any irregularities or malfunctions.

9. Annual Professional Inspection

  • Reason:  An HVAC system has numerous components that require a trained eye for proper evaluation.
  • Benefits:  Regular professional inspections guarantee the system runs at peak efficiency, extends its life, and ensures safety.
  • DIY or Professional:  This is strictly a professional task.

10. Seal Any Drafts

  • Reason:  Drafts cause the HVAC system to work harder to maintain the desired temperature.
  • Benefits:  Sealing drafts ensures efficient heating, reduced energy bills, and prolonged system life.
  • DIY or Professional:  Smaller drafts can be managed DIY with weather stripping. For larger drafts or structural issues, consult a professional.

11. Lubricate Moving Parts

  • Reason: Just like any machine, the moving parts of an HVAC system need lubrication to reduce friction and wear.
  • Benefits: Lubrication ensures the system operates smoothly, reduces the risk of parts wearing out prematurely, and saves energy.
  • DIY or Professional: While some homeowners might be comfortable with this task, it’s often best left to professionals who know exactly where and how much lubrication is needed.

12. Check the Heat Exchanger for Cracks

  • Reason: A cracked heat exchanger can lead to carbon monoxide leaks, which are harmful and potentially deadly.
  • Benefits: Regular checks ensure the home’s occupants’ safety and efficient furnace operation.
  • DIY or Professional: This is a professional task due to the importance of the inspection and the expertise needed to spot potential issues.

13. Clean and Adjust the Blower Components

  • Reason: Proper airflow is crucial for efficient system operation. Over time, blower components can become dirty or misaligned.
  • Benefits: Cleaning and adjusting blower components can improve efficiency by up to 15%, ensuring even heat distribution and system longevity.
  • DIY or Professional: While cleaning can be DIY, adjustments should be handled by a professional.

14. Examine Fuel Lines and Connections

  • Reason: Loose or leaking fuel lines can be a fire hazard and reduce a furnace’s efficiency.
  • Benefits: Regular checks ensure safe operation, optimal performance, and peace of mind.
  • DIY or Professional: This task is strictly professional due to the potential hazards involved.

15. Check System Controls

  • Reason: The system controls, including the start cycle, operation, and shut-off sequence, ensure safe and efficient operation.
  • Benefits: Verifying that controls operate correctly prevents unnecessary system wear and tear, ensures energy efficiency, and guarantees safe operation.
  • DIY or Professional: Basic checks can be DIY. However, it’s best to consult a professional if there’s suspicion of malfunction.


Have A Warm and Comfy Home This Winter

Ensuring a home’s HVAC system is primed and ready for the colder months is not just a chore; it’s an investment. Regular maintenance ensures comfort, safety, and efficiency. While many tasks on this HVAC checklist for Fall and Winter are DIY, it’s always advisable to consult with a professional for an annual inspection and to address any concerns.

Don’t wait for a chill to disrupt your comfort. Contact MaxCare Heating & Cooling today to ensure your system is winter-ready for all your HVAC needs.