It’s officially fall, and it’s that time of year where you’ll find yourself using your air conditioner during the day and your heater at night. Because Albuquerque is at high altitude (5312’), our temperatures tend to drop much more at night than other cities at sea level (like Dallas at 430’). Because of these varying weather fluctuations, this may lead you to ask the question, “when is the right time to get your furnace ready for winter?”
Should I wait until the weather drops to a certain temperature?
Typically, you should start thinking about turning off your swamp cooler and turning on your furnace when the nights drop below 50° and days are in the low 70°’s. For example, if you look at the chart below (via Weather.com), it plots out the historical weather patterns in Albuquerque. You’ll see that while October generally has an average low of 45°F, it has dropped below freezing (32°F) in the past. Weather can be unpredictable, so you shouldn’t wait until you have the first freeze to make the changeover.
Why You Shouldn’t Procrastinate the Changeover
While you may not really need to use either your cooler or your heater during this weather sweet spot in the year, you’ll want to be prepared for when you do need your heat. You’ll thank yourself when you’re trying to get out of bed in the morning and your house is nice and warm instead of trying to peel the blankets off because you’re nice and cozy in bed.
While you can wait until the weather begins to cool, it’s very important that you make the switch between your swamp cooler and furnace before it freezes. If you wait, you run the risk of your outdoor faucets freezing and bursting…which creates a big problem that could easily have been avoided. Change over early to avoid costly heating repairs.
Turning Off Your Swamp Cooler
Getting your swamp cooler properly shut down and getting your heater turned on takes some work. If you prefer to do it yourself, you’ll have to get on your roof and will require you to get your pilot lit. However, we recommend that you call a professional to get your swamp cooler winterized so you can get a furnace inspection, a carbon monoxide test, and make sure that your system is up to par for the upcoming season.
- You need to turn off the water to your swamp cooler, drain the tube and also drain out the water in your cooler. If you don’t drain the water in the line it can freeze during winter and cause the pipe to break and possible water damage.
- You can take the belt off to release the tension, which will help prolong the life of the belt.
- Make sure you slide the damper into place, which will create a barrier between the inside of your home and the outside air. If this part is not put into place, you will have heat loss and therefore higher gas bills.
- While not necessary, you can choose to cover your swamp cooler. You can find a cover at any one of your local home improvement stores. Be sure to tie down your cover with straps, otherwise, your cover won’t stay on (especially when the wind comes in the spring).
Winterizing Your Refrigerated Air Conditioner
If you’re someone who has a refrigerated air in your home, you won’t have to do any of the things that those with a swamp cooler have to do, but should still have your system inspected TLC performs routine equipment inspections to ensure that your ac unit is prepared to maintain optimal comfort during the cooler months.
Turning on your Home Heating
If you have a gas furnace you can technically plug it in and turn it on. However, if it requires the pilot to be lit we absolutely recommend you call an HVAC professional to start up your furnace. Standing pilots are common with furnaces 20 years and older and can emit CO. A carbon monoxide test would be needed to ensure that the furnace is not emitting CO in the home.
Floor Furnaces can be turned and started however we still recommend getting a professional to inspect prior to the start of winter.
Wall furnaces absolutely need to be started by a professional. Wall heaters’ burners are located near the ground and they are very susceptible to emitting CO and increased levels of carbon monoxide. These types of furnaces need to be checked and have a carbon monoxide test prior to each winter.
Boilers (Radiant Heat)
Most boilers are easy to start up. However, in general, boilers require maintenance. There are a lot of moving parts that need to be inspected, not just the gas, but also the expansion tank, valves, and other parts. Neglected unites can have costly boiler repairs so it is always a good idea to get an annual inspection and fall is a good time to have that done prior to winter.
Replace your filter
Having a clean filter is very important. Using a dirty filter is like trying to breathe through a straw. The furnace needs ample airflow otherwise it could over-heat and shut itself off. Our professionals recommend you change or clean your filter(s) at least once prior to the start of winter.
Other Tips to Winterize your Home
Use a styrofoam faucet cover and insulate your outdoor faucets. This will help them from freezing during those extra-cold nights.
Use weathercock to prevent heat loss in the cracks of your windows and doors.
Make sure the downspouts and gutters are free of debris, otherwise it keeps the water from appropriately draining off your roof.
Insulate your pipes and water lines by using foam pipe insulation.