A New Homeowner’s Guide to Utilities
Congratulations on the purchase of your new home! While you may not miss the days of apartment living, owning a home does come with its own set of responsibilities that your landlord would typically take care of, such as maintaining your heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) and plumbing systems.
Whether you know your way around a wrench or don’t know much beyond turning on a faucet or adjusting your thermostat, knowing the basics of your HVAC and plumbing system will ensure your new home is comfortable and, most importantly, liveable.
Why It’s Important to Be Aware of Your HVAC and Plumbing Systems as a New Homeowner
During your pre-purchase home inspection, you may have briefly considered the plumbing and HVAC systems. However, unless either of these systems requires significant repairs, they are most likely in the back of your mind. Before you find yourself without heat or with leaky pipes, it’s a good idea to learn more about your home’s HVAC and plumbing systems to ensure you and your residence remain safe and comfortable.
When you move into a new home, it can be easy to overlook your AC or heating and ventilation as you deal with larger concerns. However, understanding the basics of your HVAC system, including routine maintenance tips, how to save money and what warning signs to look for, will help you keep your HVAC unit in excellent condition.
HVAC Tips for New Homeowners
The first step in taking care of your HVAC system is to know what type you have. Many heating and cooling options are available, and knowing what system you have will allow you to make accurate decisions regarding maintenance or future upgrades. Some various components of HVAC systems you may see in your new home include:
Heat pumps are available in different shapes and sizes, but all use the same principle of transferring heat via refrigerant from an indoor to an outdoor unit, also known as a split system. A heat pump relies on electricity to run the system and in the winter even more so when using its built-in backup or emergency electric heater. There are two main categories of heat pumps that may be present in your new home:
- Air source: These are the most common type of heat pump system. They have an indoor air handler and an outdoor condensing unit to move refrigerant back and forth.
- Ground source: These are also known as geothermal or geo for short. They rely on underground loops to exchange heat with the indoor air handler. They tend to be very energy efficient.
Gas furnaces include burners, heat exchangers, ductwork and vents to heat your home. Your furnace will use gas to operate and can last well over a decade if properly installed and ongoing maintenance. As a homeowner, it’s vital to locate and change the air filter regularly to prevent it from becoming clogged and keep air in your home cleaner. 1″ air filters should be replaced every 1 to 3 months while larger 2″ filters should be every 3 to 6 months, and 4″ to 5″ filters should be changed every 6 to 12 months.
The boiler produces hot water through a heat exchanger heated by gas. The hot water then moves throughout the house via pipes in radiators. Many homeowners prefer boilers as a heating system, as they can be very efficient but even more so are one of the most comfortable ways to provide heat to a home.
Ductless mini-splits are also a heat pump system with indoor air handler(s) and an outdoor compressor(s) without the need for ductwork. They can be individually controlled from room to room and a home can have up to 8 indoor air handlers connected to 1 outdoor compressor. These systems have gained tremendous notoriety for their versatility, comfort, and efficiencies. They do require regular maintenance and usually contain a small air filter that should be cleaned monthly.
Routine HVAC Maintenance Tips
Each HVAC system requires unique maintenance to ensure it is heating or cooling the home properly. Clean your system of dust and debris regularly to increase efficiency. It is also a good idea to perform regular checkups to locate and fix any potential issues.
How to Save Money
While your HVAC system may already be energy- and cost-efficient, there are ways to save even more money. Keep your home cool in the summer or warm in the winter by closing and opening your blinds, respectively. You can also invest in a programmable thermostat that will automatically regulate your home’s temperature. Lastly, ensure your HVAC system is clean by keeping up with air filters, and maintaining equipment regularly will ensure it continues operating at an optimal condition.
When to Call Zimmerman Plumbing, Heating & Air Conditioning
As a homeowner, you are responsible for keeping your HVAC system operating properly. In addition to scheduling regular service appointments, it’s also essential to pay attention to warning signs that your system may need repair. If you are experiencing any of the following issues, our expert technicians from Zimmerman Plumbing, Heating & Air Conditioning can help your HVAC system get back on track:
- No airflow
- Strange smells
- Weak output
- Strange noises
- Moisture on the ducts
- Unusually high energy bills
Plumbing Tips for New Homeowners
There may be times when the plumbing in your new home goes awry. By staying proactive, you can prevent problems before they happen. Here are some plumbing tips to help you avoid many common issues:
- Recognize the signs of a water leak: By identifying a water leak as early as possible, you will prevent significant damage to your home. Some signs of a leak include high water bill, lower water pressure, and squishy, sagging, or stained drywall or flooring.
- Clean the drains to prevent clogs: Cleaning your drains as soon as you move in will clear any debris that may have accumulated over time. It’s also important to continue cleaning your drains regularly to protect the health of your pipes.
- Locate your main water shut-off valve: Knowing where to find your shut-off valve will allow you to quickly shut your water off in the event of a water leak or burst pipe. These are most commonly found in basements or crawlspaces next to the water meter.
- Understand what can go down the garbage disposal: Your garbage disposal is a surprisingly sensitive system, and understanding what you can put down it will help you prevent a clog.
- Be familiar with your plunger: Having to plunge your toilet, sink or bathtub is an inevitable part of homeownership. If you need to plunge a sink or bathtub, make sure you close all overflow holes and have the appropriate water level in the basin. Whether you are plunging a toilet, sink or bathtub, make sure you have a tight seal before you begin plunging.
- Protect your pipes from the cold: it’s essential to protect your pipes from freezing. You can keep your pipes from freezing by wrapping insulation around exposed pipes and by keeping warm air flowing to pipes that may be susceptible to freezing. As an extra precaution, faucets on a slow drip will keep water flowing throughout the day.
Contact Zimmerman Plumbing, Heating & Air Conditioning Today!
Moving into your dream home is an exciting experience, but it comes with the new responsibility of caring for your plumbing, heating or air conditioning. If you are a new homeowner in Mechanicsburg or Central Pennsylvania, let Zimmerman Plumbing, Heating & Air Conditioning help you transition into your new home as comfortably as possible. Contact us today to learn more about our installation and maintenance services.