When the coldest months of the year are on the way, it is easy to get wrapped up in all the festivities that are on the horizon. Gift planning, special events, family get-togethers, and religious as well as cultural gatherings are on the minds of many when the temperature begins to drop. However, one thing that is vitally important for homeowners not to overlook is preparing their HVAC system for the winter.

We are happy to take you through all the steps so that you can be sure your system is ready.

Schedule to Have Your Furnace Tuned Up

Schedule a furnace tune-up and do it early, preferably in the fall. Proper maintenance of your system is one of the most important steps in preparing your equipment for the winter. Contacting an HVAC technician to do a routine maintenance check helps ensure that your system will be safe, efficient, and reliable throughout the winter months.

Change Your Air Filters

Air filters protect your system from debris, dirt, dust, and other contaminants that could lead to reduced performance and damage to components. Air filters should be checked once a month and changed anywhere between one and three months, depending on the type of system you are using. Reference the information that is provided by the manufacturer to be sure of the replacement frequency, or ask your trusted HVAC technician. Filters get dirtier during the winter since most homeowners run their HVAC nonstop then. Make sure you start with a clean filter before the colder temperatures hit so that you do not have to pause operation at an inopportune time or risk reduced performance.

Prep Your Humidifier

Many Connecticut homeowners utilize whole-home humidifiers to offset how dry indoor winter air can become. It is important to make sure this equipment receives attention as part of the routine maintenance of your HVAC system when you prepare for winter.

Preparing a humidifier involves changing the water panel, cleaning the water reservoir, inspecting the drain line for leaks, and making sure the unit powers on.

Clean Around Your Furnace

Make sure the area around your heating system or furnace is clear and clean. Remove any dirt and debris that could potentially get sucked up. Make sure that nothing is stored around the furnace. Anything flammable, in particular, should be at least 6 feet away. Check all of the access doors and exterior panels to confirm that they are firmly attached.

Program Your Thermostat for Winter

When it is that time of year to make the switch from cooling to heating, you want to be sure that your thermostat is programmed for the proper temperature settings. Select energy-efficient temperatures that are comfortable for you and your loved ones when your home is occupied. When no one is going to be there, have your temperatures set back 10 to 15 degrees. Set your fan to “AUTO” so that the blower runs only during a heating cycle.

Winterize Outdoor Equipment

Your outdoor units will need some care as you head into the winter. Clean off the exterior, removing any debris that has gotten stuck. Weed out whatever plants and vegetation may have grown around the unit. Remove items that have been stored around the unit, giving it at least 2 feet of clearance. Check for any dead limbs or branches from trees that may fall on the outdoor unit during a storm, and remove them. Clean any overhead gutters that might cause water to leak onto the unit, and fix any leaks that you find. Finally, set your air conditioning unit to the “OFF” position.

Bleed Valves

If you have a boiler heating system with a hot water radiator, you are going to need to bleed the valve on the radiator. This means moving any trapped air out of the system, which helps the system heat the rooms in your home more efficiently.

Service Your Chimney

If you plan on using your fireplace during the winter, you will need to make sure that it is serviced. This involves an annual check that it is free of debris, has the proper clearance, and is working correctly.

Test Your Smoke and Carbon Monoxide Detectors

Make sure that all of your smoke and carbon monoxide detectors are working properly by pressing the test button on each unit. Replace the batteries on each of them. Get new devices if your carbon monoxide detectors are older than seven years or if your smoke detectors are older than 10 years.

Air Vents

Clean and clear your air vents so that they are unobstructed and open.

Inspect Ductwork

Inspect your home’s HVAC ducts ahead of the beginning of the heating season.

Give Your Furnace a Test Run

To make sure that it is in proper working condition, test out your heating system before you need it. Test it out at least three times. Put it at the temperature that you will have it at during the winter, and leave it on for a few hours. Take notice of any issues, pay close attention to any strange odors or sounds, and notify an HVAC technician if anything is cause for concern.

Examine the Motor Belt

Over time, the belt on your system’s motor can wear out, loosen, or break. Make sure to have your belt looked at to ensure that it is going to get you through the winter.

Check Condensate Drainage

High-efficiency condensing furnaces have a system that allows for condensate drainage to exit, preventing water damage or issues with system performance. Take the time to check that the condensate drainage system is in sound working order.

Make Sure You Have Enough Fuel

You do not want to find out that you do not have enough fuel for your system in the middle of the winter. Make sure that you have enough fuel, and stock up if you do not.


Minimize heat loss by making sure that your home is properly insulated.

Change Ceiling Fan Direction

During the winter, your ceiling fans should be set to run clockwise. This is because heat rises, and in the clockwise setting, your ceiling fan will take the warm air that collects at the ceiling and push it downward to help evenly distribute it around a room.

Speak to a Professional About Preparing Your System for Winter

If you are in Cheshire, CT or the surrounding area, our team at F.F. Hitchcock Plumbing, Heating & Cooling would love to speak to you about getting your HVAC system prepared for the winter months. We’ve tried to cover a lot in this guide, but we’d be happy to help you through everything that needs to be done. After all, we have quite a lot of experience. In fact, our team at F.F. Hitchcock Plumbing, Heating & Cooling has been serving the heating and cooling needs of this community since 1870. We are a family-owned business that is your resource for all our heating, air conditioning, plumbing, ventilation, and fuel needs. If you would like to schedule a maintenance inspection to make sure your HVAC system in Cheshire is ready for the season, give us a call at F.F. Hitchcock Plumbing, Heating & Cooling today.

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