When the season transitions to the colder months, it’s important to maintain your heating, ventilation and air conditioning system.

Just as you want your HVAC system to keep you cool during the summer, you’ll need to make sure your unit is ready to heat your home during the winter, too.

A combination of the following do-it-yourself and professional maintenance tasks will ensure the system is ready for any season. Read on to learn more.

This post is sponsored by American Standard Heating and Air Conditioning.

Remove Unwanted Moisture

Condensation can lead to unwanted moisture on your HVAC system’s ducts, coils, drain lines, and pans in the summer, especially if you live in a humid area.

If this moisture isn’t removed, it can lead to the growth of mold and mildew, not to mention damage to your home’s A/C unit. If left uncleaned, it can even lead to sickness from airborne bacteria.

To combat this:

  • Clean pans and drain lines from your A/C unit. Water collects in these areas, attracting mold and mildew as well as insects and animals. 
  • Inspect ducts. If your ducts are inadequately insulated, you may see condensation forming outside the ductwork during the summer when humidity is high and the air conditioner is running. Poor insulation cannot only increase your utility bill but also causes excess moisture that can lead to mold. Insulating ductwork is a little more complex, so you should definitely hire an HVAC technician for the job.   

Monitor Refrigerant Levels

Your A/C unit has probably been working overtime during the summer, so it might be low on refrigerant.

This chemical changes from liquid to gas and back to liquid inside your A/C to cool your home. If you’re low on refrigerant, your unit will only circulate warm air.

Having the right amount of refrigerant makes air from your vents colder, reduces energy bills and makes your AC work better.

(JJ Gouin, Getty Images)

Call an HVAC professional, like an American Standard Customer Care specialist, to check it at the end of the season so you won’t be in for a rude awakening when summer rolls around next year.

Seal Any Leaks

As the heat of summer wears off, go into the attic and check your ductwork for leaks.

Feel along the ducts for air leaks while your air conditioner is running. Also, look for discolored insulation or rusty ducts that could indicate a leak.

Pay particular attention to the joints in pipes and where runs of ducts meet in case a pipe has become disconnected.

(Adobe Stock)

Repair any leaks using duct mastic or metallic duct tape rather than standard cloth tape. You can also have an HVAC professional run a pressurized test of the system to check for leaks.

Change Air Filter

Your HVAC system’s air filter needs to be changed about every 30 to 90 days, so the start of fall is the perfect time to do it.

Regularly changing the air filter is critical for its longevity, but it also helps your system work more efficiently. The purpose of the air filter is to trap unwanted allergens, dust and particles and prevent them from getting into the air you breathe in your home, so when the filter is dirty, your air will also become dirty.

(mcphillips007, Getty Images Signature)

Changing the filter on your air cleaner may also help save on energy costs.

Here’s how to do it:

  • Buy a new filter. Check your owner’s manual before buying a filter — using the right filter is essential; otherwise, you run the risk of potentially damaging your system.
  • Turn off the unit. Be sure the unit is completely off before attempting to change the filter. If you’re unsure of how to turn it off, turn the breaker off in your electric breaker box.
  • Remove the old filter. Most filters are located on the right side of the system and are easy to slide out. However, some filters may be found internally in your home’s vents. Call an HVAC professional if you think may have these internal vents as they need to be replaced by a professional.
  • Insert new filter. Once you’ve removed the old filter, simply slide the new filter into place. Use the arrows on the filter as an indicator for which side should face in or out.

Prepare Your HVAC Unit for the Cold Season

Now that your A/C unit is ready for next summer, take these steps to ensure you stay warm during cooler months:

  • Clean the area around your outdoor unit and place a vinyl cover over it.
  • Conduct a sound and visual inspection. Turn on your furnace and/or heating system, and check for anything unusual. This may include sounds like rattling or bumping, as well as anything that looks out of place.
(Adobe Stock)
  • Program/calibrate your thermostat. This will ensure that your heating system runs accurately and correctly. 
  • Inspect your blower assembly. Fans and motors can gunk up after not being touched or used for a while. You may have to clean these parts off or even replace them if necessary. 
  • Check insulation. Insulation in your home’s walls or attic may need some attention, which will help keep your home warm in the winter and reduce energy costs. Also, you may want to check duct insulation as well.
  • Check your pilot light. This is a continuously burning flame in gas-powered heating systems that is used as an ignition source for heat. If your pilot light has been extinguished, your heating system will not work properly.

When in Doubt, Call an HVAC Tech

A trained professional should inspect your home’s heating and cooling systems at least once a year. HVAC technicians have a much deeper understanding of these systems’ inner workings than the typical DIY homeowner. 

Homeowners can do minor A/C unit maintenance, but only HVAC technicians can run tests and check for poisonous gases, such as carbon monoxide, inside a home.

(American Standard)

To find your local American Standard Customer Care Dealer, visit americanstandardair.com.

Further Reading

Editorial Contributors
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Danny Lipford


Danny Lipford is a home improvement expert and television personality who started his remodeling business, Lipford Construction, at the age of 21 in Mobile, Alabama. He gained national recognition as the host of the nationally syndicated television show, Today's Homeowner with Danny Lipford, which started as a small cable show in Mobile. Danny's expertise in home improvement has also led him to be a contributor to popular magazines and websites and the go-to source for advice on everything related to the home. He has made over 200 national television appearances and served as the home improvement expert for CBS's The Early Show and The Weather Channel for over a decade. Danny is also the founder of 3 Echoes Content Studio, TodaysHomeowner.com, and Checking In With Chelsea, a décor and lifestyle blog.

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