It’s fall. The time of year when you find yourself wanting to use your air conditioner during the day and your heater during the night. Because Albuquerque is at a 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, you may be wondering: “When is the right time to get my furnace ready for winter?”
Should you 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 the first freeze to make the change from your swamp cooler to your furnace.
Why You Shouldn’t Procrastinate the Changeover
Though you may not use either your swamp cooler or your furnace during these golden fall months, you’ll want to be prepared for when you do need your heat. You’ll be glad your furnace is up and running when you’re trying to get out of bed in the morning. It’s much easier to get up when your house is nice and warm instead of freezing cold!
While you can wait until the weather cools down, it’s important that you make the switch from your swamp cooler and to your 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
It takes some work to get your swamp cooler properly shut down and your furnace up and running safely. If you prefer to do it yourself, you’ll have to get on your roof to work on the swamp cooler. You will also have to get your pilot lit. We recommend that you call a professional to get your swamp cooler winterized so that you can get a furnace inspection, which includes a carbon monoxide test. This gives you the confidence to know that your system is up to par for the rest of the season.
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 you should still have your system inspected. TLC performs routine equipment inspections to ensure that your 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 strongly suggest that you call an HVAC professional to start up your furnace. Standing pilots are common with furnaces 20 years and older, and these can emit carbon monoxide (CO). A carbon monoxide test is needed to ensure that the furnace is not leaking CO into your home.
Floor furnaces can just be turned on and started, but we still recommend getting a professional to inspect prior to the start of winter to help you avoid repairs.
Wall furnaces must be started by a professional. Wall heaters’ burners are located near the ground and are very susceptible to leaking CO and increasing levels of carbon monoxide in the home. 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 components. Neglected units can lead to costly boiler repairs. It is always a good idea to get an annual inspection, and fall is a good time to get that done.
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 can 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. This is easy to do yourself.
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.