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How to Winterize Your Southern Home

Cold weather is right around the corner! As a homeowner in the south, you need to know how to winterize your southern home to stay warm and safe this season. Douglas Cooling & Heating shares winterization tips and how to maximize indoor comfort this winter!

How to Winterize Your Southern Home’s Air Conditioning Equipment

Before cold weather hits, take the time to address your outdoor air conditioning equipment now that it’s not in use. Some simple winterization steps work to protect this important equipment and prevent damage that could affect your comfort come spring.

  • Clean your exterior unit. Take the time to remove all debris from your air conditioner’s exterior components. Turn off power before performing this maintenance. Brush away debris such as leaves and grass clippings from the fins and grill. Carefully remove any branches or twigs stuck between them. Use a hose to gently wash away dirt and debris.
  • Clear the area. As you’re packing away patio and outdoor furniture for the winter season, make sure the area near your air conditioner does not become a storage spot. Never store outdoor items around your air conditioning unit. Additionally, if there is vegetation growing up around the unit or shrubbery encroaching, take time to trim and clear it back. You want to leave a 2-foot area clear around the outdoor equipment. If heavy items could be knocked its way during a winter storm, it’s best to secure these items in a shed or garage for the season.
  • Trim nearby trees and remove dead branches. The weight of ice on limbs or a strong winter wind has the power to knock branches down onto your outdoor unit, resulting in damage. Cut back limbs that hang over your equipment and remove dead limbs from nearby trees to prevent this possibility.
  • Check your gutters. Clogged or improperly routed or pitched gutters send water from rain and snow melt dripping down onto your exterior air conditioner. This water freezes within your unit, causing damage to components.
  • Cover your unit. While not a must-do step, some homeowners feel safer with a cover for their outdoor air conditioner. This is fine, just make sure to do it the right way. Cover the top of your exterior air conditioner for the winter to keep out debris and discourage rodents from nesting. Check with your air conditioner manufacturer to see if a cover is recommended. In most cases, a piece of plywood held by a brick or two provides protection from debris and rodents entry points. Be sure to monitor it for excess moisture throughout the winter – don’t accidentally create an opportunity for mold to grow in the system.  

Get Your Heating System Ready

A few simple steps help your heating system perform at its best throughout the winter. Do what you can now before cold weather arrives to limit the risk of comfort disruptions throughout the season.

  • Schedule a preventive heating maintenance tune up. Have your heating system professionally serviced by our NATE-certified technicians to ensure superior performance over the winter season. Our technicians thoroughly examine your system, identify performance or repair issues for correction, and provide the care the system needs. This counteracts wear and tear to improve energy efficiency and performance over the winter.
  • Change your air filter. Your furnace’s filter should be changed on a regular basis. How often depends on the frequency recommended by your manufacturer and household factors. Before winter, visually examine your filter – if it’s gray and caked with debris, change it now. Throughout the winter months, do a monthly inspection to determine if a new filter is warranted – filters sometimes need to be changed more frequently during the winter when the HVAC system experience periods of heavy use.
  • Clear the area. Never store items in the area surrounding your furnace, as this is a fire hazard. Keep the 6-foot area around your furnace clear if it’s installed in an open area, like your garage or basement. If you have a smaller utility closet, never store items near the furnace. Keep all combustible materials in another location.
  • Schedule repairs right away. If there are issues you know of that were not corrected last heating season, don’t put off repairs. Problems with different HVAC system components place the system under stress and force it to draw excess energy. This not only burdens the equipment, it raises your energy bills. Call Douglas Cooling & Heating to schedule an inspection and heating repair service in Birmingham.

Why Heating Maintenance Is Important

The minute you turn on your heating and air unit, you expect it to work flawlessly and keep even temperatures throughout your home. However, ignored HVAC equipment increases the risk of unexpected breakdowns, poor health and higher energy bills.

Save yourself time and money and schedule maintenance for the fall. Waiting until your furnace or heat pump is broken leaves you vulnerable to the cold weather outside. Plus, it will cost more to get your unit up and running quickly. This makes your job more difficult as you work through how to winterize your southern home.

Our heating and air professionals know what to look for during routine maintenance calls and how to winterize your southern home when it comes to HVAC equipment. We will catch early signs of wear and tear, and repair or replace worn or broken components.

Preventing malfunctions and breakdowns keeps your heating and air system healthy and lengthens its lifespan. You won’t have to deal with replacing your equipment around the holidays, which means less stress financially when you are planning family gatherings and buying gifts.

Besides saving money, maintenance promotes healthy indoor air. Your furnace or Birmingham heat pump experiences a buildup of dirt, dust and other debris. When you fire up your heating system for the first time, anything accumulated inside will be transferred to the indoor air you breathe.

Scheduling maintenance with Douglas Cooling & Heating clears away the dirt and debris. Our experts also remove excess moisture before mold or mildew grows inside your unit or the ductwork.

Mold spores spread throughout your home via the air ducts when a heating and air unit isn’t routinely inspected and cleaned.

How to Winterize Your Southern Home for Better Comfort

As you learn how to winterize your southern home, don’t forget about comfort! These tips help your home stay warmer throughout the season and make your HVAC system more energy efficient.

  • Identify and seal air leaks throughout your home. Seal cracks and gaps which let indoor air out and outdoor air in. This prevents heat loss and keep more of your heating energy in the home where you can use it.
  • Add weather stripping around door frames to prevent drafts of cool air into your home. This also requires your heating system to work harder.
  • Keep fireplace dampers closed unless you are burning a fire in the fireplace. An open damper allows warm air from your living areas to escape out the chimney.
  • Prevent heat loss when using the fireplace by opening dampers in the firebox’s bottom. If not provided, open the nearest window approximately one inch and shut all doors to the fireplace room. This helps you stay warm even with lower thermostat temperatures.
  • Use plastic sheeting or film to cover window interiors to prevent cold air infiltration.
  • Use heavy, insulating drapes or curtains to prevent cold air infiltration in your rooms whenever you do not have sunlight exposure. In south-facing rooms, open curtains during the daytime to take advantage of natural solar energy.

Thermostat Settings for Winter

How to winterize your southern home doesn’t just involve tasks before the season starts. When you know the right thermostat settings to maximize energy efficiency, you help your HVAC system work at its best all winter long.

  • When you are home and awake, choose temperature settings as low as you can comfortably tolerate.
  • For periods where everyone is asleep or out of the home, set back your thermostat 10 to 15 degrees. Doing so for eight or more hours can lead to a savings of up 10 percent annually. A programmable or smart thermostat makes this adjustment easy!

Get HVAC Winterization Help from Douglas Cooling & Heating!

Don’t neglect your HVAC system as you work through these steps for how to winterize your southern home. Schedule HVAC service in Birmingham today from Douglas Cooling & Heating! We’re here to assist with the HVAC services your air conditioner needs to stay protected and your heating system needs to maintain warmth.

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