TSTC HVAC winter maintenance

HVAC maintenance recommended as seasons change

(ROSENBERG, Texas) – Fort Bend County is no stranger to the wily show of winter that Texas stages each year.

“If you’re not happy with the weather, wait a minute — it’s going to change,” said Keith Klix, a Texas State Technical College Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning Technology instructor.

Many residents will find themselves upping the heat in their homes on chilly mornings — only to have to switch to air conditioning by the afternoon as the hot sun streams in through their windows.

Whether a system takes care of these shifts automatically, or a homeowner or business owner adjusts the thermostat manually according to their comfort levels, the back and forth should not cause any excessive stress to the system.

“It’s not going to hurt anything either way,” Klix said. “As long as their system is working properly, it wouldn’t matter.”

Preventive maintenance is key to ensuring that a system can handle whatever nature throws at it.

“A lot of companies have service contracts that include seasonal checkups in it,” Klix said. “Look for a reputable contractor. I would recommend that everybody have a spring and a winter checkup on their furnaces and their air conditioning units.”

For an electric heater, these appointments can include a check on the operation of the system, the safeties, any corrosion on the connections, and the general cleanliness of the heating coils and fans.

An appointment for a gas furnace includes the same checks, with the added recommendation of a periodic combustion analysis to ensure proper burning.

For safety’s sake, these maintenance appointments must be handled by a professional HVAC contractor.

“It should be handled by a professional because electric furnaces are 240 volts,” Klix said. “That’s enough amperage there to kill somebody. Same thing on the gas furnace. If it’s not inspected correctly, then you could cause a problem.”

What can homeowners and business owners do to help keep their systems in good working order? Use the seasons changing as a reminder to change out their filters.

Some of the most common issues that HVAC contractors run into around this time of year concern lost safeties or furnace control boards that have gone bad — electronic components that eventually wear out.

“That’s just the nature of the beast,” Klix said.

Other less common scenarios could include failed motors and capacitors — or errors from other trade professionals that create issues that are literally nuts.

“One time, roofers had replaced the roof on the house and they did not put the chimney cap back on the vent,” Klix recalled. “Squirrels found the open pipe and stuffed it full of nuts for the winter. When they turned on the furnace, it wouldn’t work because it couldn’t vent. I think I took two to three pounds of hazelnuts out of the furnace.”

TSTC offers HVAC training at its campuses in East Williamson County, Fort Bend County, Harlingen, North Texas and Waco.

HVAC Technology is one of TSTC’s Performance-Based Education programs. HVAC students move through their training at a flexible pace.

In Texas, HVAC mechanics and installers can earn $48,030 per year, according to onetonline.org, which projects these positions to grow by 16% in the state through 2028.

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the Houston-The Woodlands-Sugar Land metropolitan area employs the fourth-highest number of HVAC mechanics and installers out of all other metropolitan areas in the nation.

Learn more about TSTC at tstc.edu.

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