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5 Things to do Before Turning on Your Home’s Heater This Fall

woman adjusting thermostat

As the long summer ends and cooler temperatures (finally) arrive, you’ll be reaching for your thermostat during the onset of chilly fall nights. In Arizona, central heaters lay dormant for most of the year and are prone to deterioration and dust collection as the summer stretches on, and on, and on. That’s why it’s important to have a skilled technician help get you on the right track for fall and winter by preparing your heating equipment for safe and reliable operation. Here at Larson Air Conditioning, your comfort is our number one priority. Using our years of experience and training to help customers like yourself, we’ve put together the top five things to do before you turn on your heat for the first time this season.

1. Learn the signs of heater problems


Before you turn your heater on, it’s helpful to know the signs of common problems that might pop up after the long summer without use. That way, you can act quickly before small issues have the chance to turn into larger, more expensive headaches.


Strange Sounds


It’s normal for your heater to make noise when starting up, but some noises are a literal cry for help. Keep an ear out for the following:


Squealing and Grinding


High-pitched squealing and grinding noises could mean trouble for blower motors, inducers, and wheels. Squealing and grinding is often caused by metal on metal contact. To avoid further damage to these important components, call us if you start hearing squealing coming from your heater.

Abrupt Rattling or Banging


These abrupt loud noises can indicate that something is broken within the system, or a component like the blower wheel has come loose. Shut off the system and leave it to one of our professionals if you hear these noises.
What’s normal and what’s not
Please keep in mind that operational noise is to be expected and often completely normal. And there are some operational noises that may mimic the sounds we’re suggesting you keep an ear out for. So, when in doubt, we’re here to help by lending an ear and giving you our professional opinion. We know heaters inside and out and know what’s normal and what’s not.

Strange Smells


It’s normal for your heater to put off a faint odor the first few times you turn it on for the year, but the smell should dissipate after the dust burns off. In some cases, dusty ducts and duct leaks are cause for the heating smell to linger. Infrequent usage of a heater can also make the smell more noticeable each time it’s used. But if you smell a distinct sulfur-like odor, similar to rotten eggs, even if it’s faint or momentary, it is imperative that you shut off your heater and vacate your family from your home and call your gas company to report a potential leak. This is critically important for homeowners of gas-fired appliances.

Rising Energy Bills


If your energy bills start skyrocketing during the heating season, an old inefficient heater might be the culprit. For the good of your wallet and peace of mind, schedule an appointment with us so we can get to the bottom of the issue.

Uneven Home Temperature or Poor Airflow


If the temperatures in your home swing from chilly to warm depending on what room you’re in, your home may be hindering your heater from doing its job effectively. Even a well-maintained and high-efficiency heater will run into problems in a home with major energy loss. Problems like damaged or leaky ducts allow warm air to escape before it reaches the rooms in your home. Inadequate attic insulation with unsealed attic floors also make it easy for cold outdoor air to flow freely inside.


A home-energy audit from Larson’s experts can help identify energy waste and other shortcomings in the home so you can enjoy a consistent, comfortable temperature. We use a detailed checklist that includes inspecting attic insulation, evaluating air leakage, and more, so that we can ensure your home is as efficient as possible.

2. Change Your Air Filters


Home heating systems of all kinds use air filters to trap dust, debris, allergens, and other pollutants before they have the chance to circulate throughout your home. But, when a filter gets too dirty, home air quality and equipment efficiency can suffer. Changing your air filter every 30 days with a basic pleated air filter is the single most important maintenance responsibility a homeowner has with their heating equipment. It only takes a few minutes every month, so set yourself a reminder!

3. Set Your Thermostat


With the change in weather, your thermostat’s settings need to change as well. Assuming you have a programmable thermostat, which most likely you do, or, better yet, a Wi-Fi enabled programmable thermostat, make sure to change the programming to reflect your new seasonal comfort needs. For example, switch from COOL to HEAT, adjust the schedule timeframes and temperatures. We recommend a heating setpoint of 68° while at home or sleeping and 64° or less while away. It’s the best way to optimize energy usage and home comfort. Read what the US Department of Energy has to say about programming your thermostat for fall and winter.

4. Schedule a Professional Maintenance & Safety Checkup


Imagine if your car stayed in the garage for most of the year without you driving it. Chances are that the battery would be dead and it wouldn’t start, and you certainly wouldn’t take it on a cross-country trip for the whole winter season. Lack of maintenance or simply deferred maintenance is the surest way for it to breakdown and have increased operational costs. Whether you have a heat pump, a gas furnace, or a hybrid system, the best thing you can do during the fall season is schedule a professional maintenance and safety checkup with our pros at Larson Air Conditioning. Our technicians use an exhaustive checklist that checks the system from top to bottom. We’ve even made it easy for you to quickly schedule maintenance online.

5. Weigh the Pros & Cons of Replacement


If your heater is getting up there in years, this season might be the time to finally start planning for a replacement. The average lifespan of a heater is around 15 years, and after that, it’s likely more cost effective to replace the system than to repair it. Before you get caught up in the sticker shock of a new system, remember that newer heating systems are more energy efficient, reliable, and warrantied. Plus, with special considerations for proper equipment sizing, duct sealing, airflow and more, Larson Air Conditioning’s team of experts can save you from costly energy bills and repairs by installing the perfect heating system for your home with ease.

Turn up the Heat with Larson Air Conditioning


When the nights get longer and the days get chillier, you shouldn’t trust just any HVAC company with your home heating needs. At Larson Air Conditioning, we put home comfort first, and go the extra mile to ensure that you and your family can enjoy a warm and pleasant home environment during the heating season. Whether you’re dealing with a persistent heater problem or looking to upgrade to a new system, call 480.428.0600 to experience the Larson difference for yourself.