Before you know it, Christmas will be here. If you like to travel to see friends and family during the holiday season, it’s important to know how to properly secure your Jacksonville home so that you don’t end up with ruined holiday plans. One potential source of problems while you’re away is your home’s HVAC system. The last thing you want is for the system that’s supposed to bring you comfort to cause you misery instead. To avoid this major problem, the heating and cooling experts at Buehler Air Conditioning & Plumbing offer these tips for keeping your HVAC system safe while you’re away.

Remove Debris From Your Outdoor Unit

Living in Florida, there’s a good chance that you have a heat pump to provide heat to your home during the winter. While a heat pump provides an efficient way to keep your home warm, it does come with a few challenges. One potential challenge is that a heat pump requires an outdoor unit to operate during the winter. Therefore, it’s important to keep this outdoor unit clean so that it doesn’t overheat. Before you leave for a trip, take a close look at your heat pump’s outdoor unit and do your best to remove any leaves, sticks, or other debris that could prevent adequate airflow. When your system can breathe properly, there’s a much lower chance of a problem.

Check Your Thermostat Settings

Before you head out the door for your holiday trip, Buehler Air Conditioning & Plumbing encourages you to stop and take a look at your thermostat. Specifically, you want to make sure that the settings are optimized so that you don’t waste energy while you’re away. When it comes to home safety while you’re away, there are a couple of specific items on your thermostat you need to check. First, make sure that the system’s fan is set to “auto” instead of “on.” If it’s set to “on,” the system will run continuously, resulting in a significant chance of overheating. The “auto” setting will ensure that the fan turns on and off as needed. Additionally, if your thermostat uses a battery backup, make sure that the battery has been changed within the past year so that the thermostat doesn’t lose its settings during a power outage. Finally, don’t waste money heating an empty home. Lower your thermostat to 55 or 60 while you’re gone.

Schedule a Professional Inspection

If it’s been a while since Buehler Air Conditioning & Plumbing last inspected your HVAC system, it’s a good idea to schedule an inspection before you head out of town. A professional HVAC technician will carefully look over your system, checking each small part along the way. They will be able to identify potential problems that could cause major hazards when you’re not home for a long time. This will ensure that you’re able to have the small issues fixed before they become big, expensive problems. Furthermore, it will ensure that you’re able to address the issues when you’re home and can act quickly instead of coming home to major problems that need emergency attention. Whether or not you’re planning on going out of town, semi-annual HVAC inspections are always a good idea.

Remove Indoor Obstructions

Just like your outdoor unit needs to be able to have proper airflow to work correctly, your indoor HVAC intake needs to be unobstructed to work properly and avoid problems while you’re away. Before leaving, check all of the vents around your home and make sure that they aren’t blocked by furniture or other items. You’ll also want to make sure that all of the vents are open. This will prevent excess pressure from building up in the heat exchanger of your furnace or heat pump. You should also check around the main system components to ensure there are no flammable materials close to the furnace that could catch fire while your home is unoccupied.

Replace Your Air Filter

Another way to maintain adequate airflow in your HVAC system is to replace the air filter right before you leave. While Buehler Air Conditioning & Plumbing recommends checking your air filter once a quarter, many people ignore this task for months at a time. During the holidays, when you’re unpacking dusty Christmas decorations and doing extra cooking, your air filter has to work overtime to keep the air in your home free from contaminants. A dirty air filter won’t perform as well and can reduce the amount of air that gets to your furnace. This can cause the furnace to overheat if the condition persists. Although your furnace has sensors to shut down when it overheats, these sensors can malfunction, leaving you with a furnace that’s too hot.

Water Your Tree

One favorite holiday tradition for many Jacksonville residents is selecting a live Christmas tree to display in their homes. If you have a real tree in your home, it’s vital to make sure it has adequate water before you hit the road. Buehler Air Conditioning & Plumbing wants you to know that a dry tree can be a fire hazard. This is true even if the lights on the tree are off. A tree left unattended and without water can become bone dry in the dry, warm air of your home. In fact, it can become so dry that even the smallest spark can cause it to ignite. Sparks from electrical shorts or static electricity could be all that it takes to cause a major fire. Since these sparks can occur whether or not you’re home, you can gain some peace of mind by leaving your tree with an ample supply of water. Alternatively, you can take down your tree before you leave or use an artificial tree.

Install Detectors That You Can Monitor

Even with good preparations in place, your HVAC system can still run into issues while you’re away. To respond to these problems as quickly as possible, Buehler Air Conditioning & Plumbing recommends installing smart smoke detectors and carbon monoxide detectors that you can monitor remotely. Remote monitoring will allow you to respond quickly if a fire or gas leak occurs. This can make all the difference between coming home to a slightly damaged home and coming home to no home at all. The good news is that remotely monitored smoke detectors can also often save you money on your homeowner’s insurance, making this a win-win home improvement project.

Have Someone Stop By

While remote monitors can tell you a lot about the condition of your home, having someone physically in your home can tell you even more. If you have a family member or trusted friend who can stop by while you’re away, you’ll greatly reduce the risk of a major catastrophe. While they’re there, have your friend or family member check for any unusual sights, sounds, or smells coming from your HVAC system. Make sure to leave a list of numbers to call, including the number for Buehler Air Conditioning & Plumbing, so that your friend or family member can act quickly if they notice a problem.

Here for You Throughout the Year

Whether you’re traveling at Christmas or any other time of the year, the pros at Buehler Air Conditioning & Plumbing are here to help you keep your home safe. We offer air conditioner repair, furnace maintenance, air duct cleaning, air purification equipment installation, and much more. For over 10 years, we’ve been working hard to take care of the residents of Jacksonville with prompt, professional service. That’s why we consistently receive five-star customer reviews. To learn more about taking care of your HVAC system, contact us at Buehler Air Conditioning & Plumbing today.

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