Compared to some Indiana winters, we’ve been pretty lucky this year! Winter is still winter though and we’re right in the middle of it. With a couple of cold months still left, the question should be asked: How’s your home holding up? We’d like to share some customer HVAC questions we’ve had over the past month as well as provide some tips to protect your home against the harsh winter days.
Q: My furnace is running but it’s not keeping the temperature that I have it set at.
A: Have you checked your filter? A dirty filter restricts air flow and can affect the operation of the furnace. During milder outdoor temperatures, a filter that’s a little dirty may not affect anything at all. During colder outdoor temperatures, the same filter can cause the furnace to have to work harder and fall behind. Filters may have to be changed more often than usual during extreme outdoor temperatures.
Q: I usually keep my whole house humidifier set at 40% but I’ve recently noticed that my windows are sweating.
A: When outdoor temperatures get really cold, you may have to turn your humidifier down. Once the outdoor temperatures warm back up a little, you can turn it back to it’s normal setting. When there’s too much of a humidity difference between the outdoors and indoors, you may notice some sweating. It’s a common misconception that the colder it is, the higher the humidifier should be turned up. The opposite is actually true. In addition, houses differ in how insulated they are (amount of insulation, leaky windows and doors, etc). Therefore, one house may notice window sweating at 30% and another at 40%. Adjust the humidistat up or down accordingly.
Q: Why is there ice on my heat pump?
A: There’s not a cut and dry answer for this. A heat pump has a defrost cycle that it goes through to melt the ice under normal circumstances. If ice is there at one time and gone the next time you look, then it is likely operating normally and has gone through the defrost cycle. If you see ice for days on end, there’s possibly a problem. It could be a number of things. Turn the heat pump off by taking the thermostat to emergency heat. That will help thaw the ice so it can be properly diagnosed.
Q: My electric bills are outrageous!
A: If you are all electric, our first question will always be: do you have a heat pump or air conditioner? An electric furnace running by itself to heat your home is very inefficient and expensive. If you have an air conditioner with electric furnace, it’s worth considering replacing the air conditioner with a heat pump. If you do have a heat pump and still have unusually high electric bills, there could be a problem with the heat pump or furnace. The heat pump could be under-charged, it could not be going into defrost mode, a bank of heat in the electric furnace could be stuck on, etc. It would be worth having your equipment looked at if you feel like your utility bills are high.
Here are ten other tips that we have to prep your home for colder days to come:
*Have your furnace cleaned and tuned-up
*Test sump pump
*Caulk around windows and doors
*Remove hoses from outdoor spigots
*Check insulation in attic. It should be a minimum of 12 inches
*Check door thresholds for gaps
*Plug in carbon monoxide detectors if you have gas appliances (stove, furnace, water heater, etc)
*Reverse ceiling fans
*Have your fireplace, chimney and vents inspected to make sure all is in good condition
Feel free to reach out to us if you have any additional questions. Stay warm and cozy!