A Word to the Wise on Pre-winter Maintenance

Winter maintenance

When the fall season arrives, many home owners begin to enjoy the coolness of the outdoors. At Five Star Heating & Cooling, we see many of our customers turning off their air conditioning systems and opening up windows to enjoy the fresh air. Home owners can easily save on comfort costs during this time as there is no need for air conditioning or heat, simply enjoy the nature’s temperature. However, this time is ideal for pre-winter maintenance. Your air conditioning system needs to be shut down for the winter while your heating unit needs to be prepped for operation. From heat pumps to furnace units, each option needs to be inspected and cleaned for a fully-functioning winter season of operation.

Your HVAC equipment is a precious commodity that keeps you comfortable year round. Let our technicians provide a variety of services throughout the year to keep your home as comfortable as possible. Below is as small guide to what we and you can do during the fall season as a measure of pre- winter maintenance.

Prepping Your Air Conditioning System To Be Non-Operational

If you have a single operating air conditioning system, the unit will need to be inspected and cleaned before being turned off for the winter. An inspection by our technicians will ensure your unit is functioning as it should and is ready to be closed down until summer arrives. When you have a portable air conditioning such as a window unit, proper storage is key to the unit continuing to function each and every year. Be sure to store the AC unit in a dry and clean area to prevent any damage to the unit.

Pre-winter Maintenance for your Heating System

Furnace maintenance, central unit services and more can be assessed here at Five Star Heating & Cooling. We are well-equipped for your winter needs, offering full inspections of your heating units.

Before the harsh winter arrives, your heating unit needs to be in top condition. With an inspection, our technicians will go over every component. We ensure that your outdoor system as well as indoor portion of the unit are operating correctly. Any lubrication, replacement parts or repairs are conducted as they are come across to keep your unit in proper working order.

Also included in maintenance service is cleaning of the unit. When cleaned, the system will be ready to operate. If you wake up one morning and your home is freezing due to a temperature drop, simply flip the unit to heat and the unit will do the rest. Your home will quickly heat up and provide a comfortable space for you and your family.

What You Can Do?

There are steps that you can take on your own to establish a heating unit that is ready to function. Change out the filter of the unit so you have a clean and fresh filter ready to provide clean air quality in the home. Provide fresh batteries for your thermostat, helping your unit to reach the set temperature with ease. You can also clean out around the outdoor portion of your heating system by removing any debris, leaves or grass that may have grown up over the summer months.

Please feel free to contact our office at Five Star Heating & Cooling whenever you are in need of heating or cooling services. We offer a wide range of options, including installation, repairs and maintenance to help you have a comfortable home no matter the temperature outside. Contact us today to learn more about what we can provide for you and your family!



First Day of Fall 2015: The Autumnal Equinox

Here is a great explanation of Fall and The Autumnal Equinox from The Farmer's Almanac.




10 Steps to Test Before turning on Your Furnace


Before you turn on the heating unit for another season, make sure the entire system works properly.


Taking a few steps before you turn on your heating system can help you identify needed maintenance and may help prevent breakdowns.


Before you turn on your home's furnace or other heating unit, make sure the entire system works properly and will do so safely. A preventative maintenance approach keeps your unit operating efficiently and helps prevent an unexpected breakdown on a cold winter day. It also saves you costly repair bills before issues get out of control.


1. General inspection


With the furnace turned off, conduct a thorough inspection. The unit should be free of combustion residue and black soot. Inspect the duct work for loose connections and gaps at branching points and between sections. Seal any openings with metal duct tape.


2. Ensure proper clearance


Remove items from around the base and sides of the furnace. Do not obstruct airflow to the unit. Remove combustible items, such as rags, mops or paper from near the furnace. Make sure flammable products are not in the same room as the furnace.


3. Clean the unit


Clean the accessible areas of the furnace with a vacuum and a brush attachment. Remove residue from the pilot light port and burners. Work carefully to avoid damaging or jarring the components.


4. Replace or clean the air filter


If the furnace has a throwaway air filter, replace it with a new one. You can find the size of the filter printed on the side or refer to your owner's manual. If your air handler or furnace uses a reusable filter, remove the dust from it with a vacuum. Then, remove the filter and wash it with soap and water. Allow the filter to dry before placing it back in the furnace.


5. Inspect the blower belt


If your furnace has a blower with a belt, inspect the belt for cracks and general wear and tear. The belt should depress slightly when you push down on it with your fingers. You will need to remove a couple of bolts to replace a worn belt.


6. Check airflow to the room


The rooms located the farthest from the unit may feel colder than the spaces closest to the furnace. You can remove the registers in these rooms and vacuum out the ducts. Reach as far as you can into the ducts with a clean cloth to clean them.


Before replacing the registers, open the louvers to the widest position. If any problems with airflow persists, call a heating and cooling technician to check the ducts and ensure the spaces have the properly sized ducts.


7. Flush out the drain line


During the heating season, high efficiency furnaces may drain as many as two gallons of water a day, which can cause residue to accumulate in the drain hose. Remove the hose and fill it with a solution of 25 percent bleach and 75 percent water. Flush the hose after a few minutes.


8. Check the furnace exhaust and chimney/vent


Whether your furnace vents out the side wall of your home (via direct vent) or through a chimney, check to make sure it is free of obstructions. If your unit vents up the exhaust flue of a chimney, birds and debris may fall through the opening. Disconnect the duct at the furnace and check for debris.


If you need to, mark on a piece of paper the order in which you disassemble the duct to ensure you reassemble the duct in the correct way.


9. Test safety detectors


Replace the batteries in the carbon monoxide and smoke detectors. Test the devices to ensure that they work properly.


10. Hire a heating professional


Most furnace manufacturers recommend that you have your furnace tuned up by a licensed qualified heating technician each year. The service performed by the heating professional will depend on how comprehensive a checkup you request and how much you want to pay for the service.


A basic tune-up may include lubrication the gears, checking the unit for rust and corrosion, cleaning the furnace burners, checking the vent system for leakages or blockages and verifying proper ignition, flame sensors and burner flame.





Transitioning from A/C to Heating: Preparing for Cooler Temps

As summer slowly comes to an end and the gradual transition to fall occurs, now is a good time to begin inspecting your furnace and home ventilation system in early preparation for colder temperatures. Though the same ductwork that supplies the cold air from your air conditioner in the summer supplies the heat in the fall and winter, you should still ensure that it is in good condition with the transition of each season. Inspecting the furnace is, above all, the most important part of getting ready for the transition to cooler temperatures. If your furnace needs to be replaced, it is best to do so in the next couple months. Additionally, you want to make sure that your home is properly insulated and sealed to retain heat when you do power up the furnace.

Furnace Inspections

Inspecting your furnace for deficiencies is very important year round since the furnace also powers the central air conditioner in the home. Fortunately, when inspecting your home heating and cooling systems, there are a few essential components that often malfunction. The heat/cold source, the distribution system, and the thermostat are the common sources of a problem with the furnace. If the furnace fails to turn on, there may be a problem with the power source. If no air reaches the rooms, there is likely a problem with the distribution system or blower. Often, blown fuses or tripped circuits are the root of furnace malfunctions, so when inspecting the system check these things first. Also, check the power, thermostat, gas–if applicable, and reset the motor. If the unit is working fine after doing any of these things, the system is likely in fine condition.

Insulation and Weatherstripping

As temperatures steadily drop over the next month or so, beginning to inspect the overall insulation in your home is a good idea. This includes the insulation in the attic, as well as the weatherstripping around doors and windows. The better insulated your home, the more heat it will retain and the more consistent your energy costs will be. Make sure that your attic is properly ventilated to avoid excessive heat buildup in the attic during the cold. This heart buildup could melt snow and ice on the roof, cause runoff into gutters, and lead to the formation of ice dams. A well ventilated and insulated attic will prevent this buildup while retaining heat in the lower levels of the home.

If you notice gaps or cracks around doors or in walls, repair these before the weather turns cold. Air can infiltrate even the smallest openings and suck heat from your home. Add weatherstripping to doors and consider replacing single pane windows with more energy efficient double pane glass. Year round, a lot of energy can be lost through the windows, so upgrade these as a reliable way to help retain heat. Preparing for cold weather early will help ease the seasonal transition and ensure that your home is equipped for colder temperatures.