As the warm months wind down, it's time for your air conditioning system to take a much-needed break as it tags in your home's heating system. If your house is like many modern homes, however, then your home's air conditioning and heating have something in common: the forced air system. Your forced air system includes the thermostats, ductwork, vents, and blower which distribute cooled or heated air to every room of your home. This system is vital to keeping your home's climate comfortable, but since it is a shared system, problems that you experience in the summer may continue into the winter months.
Signs of Trouble Within the Forced Air System
First, it's important to understand if the issues you are experiencing originate with a component inside the forced air system itself. Thermostats are a common failure point, but ductwork can develop leaks over time as well. Often, problems with your ductwork may indicate that it was installed improperly or that it wasn't sized well for your house. If you notice that your electricity bills were unusually high during the summer, pay special attention to your gas bills in the winter as well. Oddly high gas bills in the winter combined with higher electricity bills in the summer are a sure sign that an efficiency problem is affecting both your heating and cooling systems.
Weak airflow is another problem that will persist as you transition from cooling your home to heating it. This is likely to increase your utility bills as well, since weaker airflow will reduce your heating system's overall efficiency. Airflow problems can be a sign that your filter is clogged, but they may also indicate trouble with the blower unit or even a major leak in your ductwork that is reducing the total volume of air reaching the vents. Depending on how your home's forced air system is designed, you may have an independent blower unit or a blower that is built into your furnace.
Another vital component shared between both halves of your home's HVAC system is the thermostat. Depending on how your home is set up, you may have a single thermostat or you may have several. In a combined system, your thermostat reads the temperature of the nearby air and either engages the air conditioner or the furnace, depending on whether the ambient air is too warm or too cold. If you notice that your air conditioner is running constantly (or not at all) regardless of thermostat setting, then your thermostat might be failing.
Unfortunately, a failing thermostat isn't something that you can wait to replace until next summer. If the thermostat is incorrectly controlling the AC then you can expect this problem to persist into the winter. Depending on the nature of the failure, you may notice that your furnace won't turn on at all or that it runs constantly once your thermostat is in heating mode. In either case, it is important to have the thermostat repaired or replaced as soon as possible to avoid overworking your furnace and driving your utility bills sky high.
Recognizing the Importance of Your Forced Air System
The key to catching problems early is to understand that your home's forced air system is shared between both your heating and your cooling systems. Problems that you think may only affect your air conditioner are likely to impact your ability to heat your home during the winter as well. Contacting an HVAC professional for heating repair as soon as possible is the best way to ensure that your home will stay warm and comfortable even as the snow begins to pile up outside.