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How To Prepare Your HVAC Unit for Winter

Written by Vaughan Comfort Services on . Posted in .

Key Takeaways:

  • Preventive maintenance and preparation are the best ways to help your HVAC system function properly in the winter.
  • Programmable thermostats are energy-efficient and can save you money in the winter while still keeping you comfortable with proper heating and air conditioning.
  • You will need to replace your air filters around every three months, but some factors can warrant more frequent changes, like having pets.
  • Getting regular maintenance on your New Jersey home’s HVAC system can help prepare for the winter months and beyond.

Winter is here, and that means it’s time to tune up your home for the stresses of cold weather, snow, and ice. The natural gas and nuclear power that accounts for 90% of the state’s total electricity generation is holding strong, but your system will need to be just as strong. In all the work of securing your house, it can be difficult to properly maintain your HVAC system. Luckily, we’re here to provide the necessary steps to protect your HVAC throughout this stressful season.

Remember, before you conduct any inspections or maintenance, turn off all power to the unit.

1. Clean or Replace the Air Filter

The first and easiest step is your air filter. A dirty or outdated air filter will cause your furnace to work harder than it needs to, driving up your expenses and putting stress on your system.

  • Locate the air filter on the return vent near your HVAC unit.
  • Filters are typically located within the ductwork nearest to your unit
  • Replace it on the first of every month during winter.
  • Check for and clear any debris or obstructions in the vent.

While air filters should typically be replaced seasonally, if you suffer from allergies, have pets, or smoke, you may need to replace them more often. While the cost of new air filters is not always cheap, it is still much less costly than most repairs to your HVAC system would be, so invest in this preventative maintenance to keep your system running smoothly under extreme winter conditions.

2. Check Your Devices

Before it gets really cold, you should check your devices. If it is already cold, though, checking them can still be beneficial.

  • Turn your furnace on and off at least three times. You need to make sure that the system is completely functional before it’s needed since the off-season can unexpectedly wear down the furnace.
  • Check all related ventilation since wildlife and falling leaves can quickly block vents. Make sure that there’s no material within three feet of the furnace before activating it.
  • Inspect your thermostat. Ensure that it has fully charged batteries and that it is properly functioning across every temperature point.
  • To reduce energy costs during the winter, you’ll need to be able to turn down your heat whenever you’re out of the home. If your thermostat isn’t properly responsive, it can drive up your energy bill.
  • If your energy consumption has been high in past winters, a programmable thermostat might be a helpful way to schedule your HVAC usage.

3. Opt for a Programmable Thermostat

A programmable thermostat comes with quite a few benefits that aid in the efficiency of your heating system, as they can save around ten percent on heating costs while maintaining comfort in your home. A programmable thermostat can turn back the temperature for eight hours a day when you are not home and automatically make the house cozy when you are on your way home, optimizing the system’s efficiency and reducing your heating bill.

4. Inspect Your Home

After inspecting devices, you should check the home itself.

  • Go through all of your exposed ducts and look for leaks. You can do this quickly by holding a piece of paper or tissue to the surface; any movement could indicate a crack in your insulation.
  • Inspect your furnace. If there are any cracks, you’re at high risk for a deadly carbon monoxide leak.
  • Run the system and look for unusual sounds like rattling, banging, or rumbling. If there are any inconsistent noises, it means that there could be some debris or buildup blocking your system.
  • Look for moisture buildups, particularly on windows.
  • Check for rust or dirt building up on pipes.
  • Check for any visible piping for frost buildup.
  • Keep an eye on the temperature of your water.
  • Run your HVAC system and move through every area of your home. Look for cold spots and temperature dips.
  • If you find any, inspect any nearby windows or doors. You can do this by holding a flame up to them and looking for it to be sucked towards them. If neither of these are the culprit, it means that there are either blockages or a malfunctioning belt within your HVAC unit.

5. Clean the Air Vents

Next, inspect all the vents throughout your home and give them thorough vacuuming. Look for any vents with an exceptional buildup of dirt or grime; this could mean it’s time to schedule a full cleaning of your ducts. You should also look at a full cleaning if it’s been over three years since your last one. A buildup of grit in your ducts can rapidly escalate your energy costs.

6. Check Your Insulation

Even the most well-maintained HVAC system will be undermined by insufficient insulation in your attic. This is where most of your heat escapes, and your insulation is slowly wearing down every year. You should conduct a thorough inspection.

  • Make sure that your insulation is 10 to 16 inches deep, and look for discoloration or holes.
  • Many approaches to insulation are extremely cost-effective, and taking advantage of them to keep out the cold air will lessen the heating burden on your HVAC system.
  • Consider installing window films, weatherstripping, or foam insulation, and invest in draft guards to ward off the cool air that blows in at entry doors.

7. Annual HVAC Services

Having regular HVAC maintenance each year is among the best ways to keep your system in proper working condition. Typically, it is best to get your system checked in early fall each year as winter approaches, but if you did not, getting it inspected in the middle of winter is still beneficial. If you want routine maintenance twice a year to be safe, the other best time apart from fall is springtime.

Why New Jersey Homeowners Choose Our HVAC Engineers for Maintenance and Repair

mother with children in front of sliding door with snow outside

At Vaughan Comfort Services, we strive to provide top-quality service, and we have been since 1937. In all that time, we have stayed up to date with the latest innovations and advancements in HVAC technology, and our engineers are experts when it comes to getting these systems working properly. Take a look at what some of our previous customers had to say about our services.


“I really can’t thank Jim and Dave enough for the work they did today. They were very knowledgeable, polite, and professional! The whole crew at Vaughan was awesome; Tony really got the ball rolling and made sure my family and I had heat this coming weekend; it was amazing! Thank you to an amazing Vaughan team!!” — Wiffle P.

“I had an emergency where my oil ran out during the snowstorm.. the Vaughan company was extremely helpful when I called. The woman who answered the phone was so friendly, and then a tech came out within just a few hours. The tech who came out was super helpful and sent someone back the following day to finish fixing our furnace. Everyone is so nice and gets the job done efficiently!” — Brenna D.

“James and David were there exactly when they said they would be. Nice guys. Explained what they were doing, and answered all of my questions. They got the job done in one day. They left the place cleaner than it was when they got there. Explained all my questions about the new heater and controls. Will recommend Vaughan to any of my neighbors or friends. The job was for my mom’s house while she was in the hospital. I will have them replace my old heater next year. It’s nice to have a local company you can trust and do the job right. The price was spot on, and I’m happy; my mom’s happy, and the family is great.” — Eric C.

Frequently Asked Questions about HVAC Tune-Ups for Winter

woman on phone in front of a window with snow outside

How Often Should I Change My Air Filter?

Overall, your air filter should be changed every three months or so. However, keep in mind that certain conditions, like having pets or having a particularly old system, may warrant you changing your air filter more frequently.

Should You Cover Your AC Unit For Winter?

As the leaves drop and the cold temperatures roll in, homeowners start thinking about winterizing their homes and yards every autumn. Customers often ask us whether they should add an A/C cover to their outdoor unit during the winter to protect them from the elements. After all, it seems to be a simple DIY air conditioner maintenance step that anyone can tackle. Unfortunately, there’s no perfect answer to this question.

Do You Provide Emergency HVAC Services?

Yes, Vaughan Comfort Services does provide emergency services. This includes offering services during heavy winter weather like snowstorms, even in instances in which a state of emergency has been declared. The only people on the roads during these times are snow plows, police, and us. If you ever have an emergency regarding your HVAC system, our experienced technicians can get there to help.

What Are the Most Common HVAC Problems in New Jersey During Winter?

The most common HVAC problems during the New Jersey winter season tend to be having no heat or low humidity levels. Humidity makes it possible to feel comfortable in lower temperatures compared to an indoor air quality condition that is too dry. Here are a few other common problems.

  • Frozen pipes
  • Dirty air filters
  • Uneven airflow from blocked ducts
  • Flickering pilot lights
  • Faulty thermostats

Bonus Tip In Case of Heavy Snow Storm

Utilize ceiling fans to help hold heat in the common areas of your home. All you’ll need to do to take advantage of this winter warming hack is to switch your ceiling fan’s motor switch from down to up. Then, run your fans at their lowest setting, which will be sufficient for getting warm air to stay put.

Staying Warm Through the New Jersey Winter is Easy With Vaughan Comfort Services

If you need assistance evaluating your home, our team of HVAC professionals have the experience to evaluate your home and provide the perfect solutions tailored to every factor to keep your heat pump, condensers, and more in good working order with a reliable maintenance plan. Get in touch with us at 856-627-0303 or fill out our online contact form to set up a time when we can come take a look at your HVAC system.

NJ LIC. NO.13VH01727600
Robert W. Vaughan,
Master HVACR Contractor Lic. # 5842
Thomas J. Weaver,
Master Plumber Lic # 9521

Contact Info
212 Barrett Avenue
Magnolia, NJ 08049

© Vaughan Comfort Services