How to Prepare Your HVAC Unit for Winter and Snow Storms

Most homeowners know the importance of winter preparedness – but what some might not be aware of is the importance of preparing your heating system for winter. Not only will it help ensure that you and your loved ones are cozier and safer in your home, but it can also extend the life of your HVAC system and cut your energy usage.

Cabin in snow

We put together some winter home preparation tips for your HVAC/heating system to help keep your family safe and warm, lower your utility bills and protect your asset:

Outside Vents

Keep exterior sidewall vents clear to allow for proper and safe operation and make sure there is no build up around your vents for your heating system and your water heater.

During a snowstorm it is important to remember to make sure that your outdoor vents are clear of snow and ice. This should just be a part of your normal snow removal process – whenever you go out to shovel, snow-blow, or plow, check on those vents.

Gas Meters

Keep your natural gas meter clear of ice and snow and make sure it’s visible at all times and accessible for maintenance and emergency responders.

Using your hands or a broom brush snow away – never use plows or snow blower near the meter or other HVAC equipment, so as not to damage it. Also, never kick or hit your meter or its piping with a hammer or other hard objects to break away ice.

Again, you’ll benefit by just adding the gas meter to your normal outside snow removal process.

Heat Pump

Heat pumps are mostly designed to prevent snow from collecting on top of the unit. While they are easy to maintain, during heavy snow or ice, it’s wise to check to make sure your heat pump is still clear.

Clear snow off the top, sides, underneath and surrounding area of the unit to allow proper drainage during defrost. Also, make sure there’s nothing built over it as that can cause issues with airflow.

Excess snow or build up can cause your heat pump to be less efficient and even cause long-term damage.

Regular Heater Maintenance

One of the most effective and easiest ways to prepare your home for extreme cold and severe winter storms is preventative maintenance on your furnace, boiler or heat pump. (Not sure if you have a furnace, boiler or heat pump? We can help with this guide.) Think about the maintenance of your car – if you don’t get an oil change for many years, is your car going to perform as well, and last a long time?

HVAC equipment is subject to periodic breakdowns and need of repairs, and regularly inspecting and tuning it up will help to keep it running smoothly in all seasons and operating at top efficiency.

Unless you want to risk damaging your equipment, we suggest you schedule a professional furnace tune-up so that the belts, motors, electrical switches, thermostats, and gas pressure can all be properly checked, and any issues fixed before the ice storms arrive. An HVAC contractor can often spot potential issues while doing routine maintenance, giving you the time to get the issue addressed before it breaks down on a 15 degree Pennsylvania winter night.

A technician can ensure the system is clean and in good condition and that it can achieve its manufacturer-rated efficiency. Also, they will check for any carbon-monoxide leakage or other safety concerns at this time.

Replace/Upgrade Your Furnace

If your heating system is broken, or old and inefficient, consider replacing it.

Your HVAC contractors will make sure that your new heating system is properly installed to make your home warm and cozy and to run more efficiently, which can save you from future costly repairs and help lower your energy bills.

We’ve created this guide to help you determine if/when it’s time to consider replacing your home’s heating/cooling systems.

Insulation and Sealing Air Leaks

Proper insulation and sealing will help your HVAC system run much more efficiently and safely, and is one of the best long-term ways to keep the house temperature regulated. This includes the attic, since a lot of heat can be lost through the roof.

By sealing and insulating your ducts you can eliminate leaks and enhance your heater’s performance.

Do you have drafty windows or doors? If you’re concerned about your home losing heat through windows, doors, walls, or your attic, consider updating them or sealing them with plastic where possible.


During the winter, snow can cause electrical lines to become heavy and fall, a driver can strike a telephone pole, and other unforeseen incidents can leave you with no power in your home. Having a generator can be a solution, so you don’t have to suffer through no power for hours or days.

Air Vents

Blocking the vents can severely limit the airflow in your home, causing drops in temperature when you need warmth the most. Make sure the levers have not been accidentally moved causing the vent to close, and that sofas and other objects are not blocking them.

Be proactive – act now and ensure you’re all set before the coldest days and heavy snow arrive!

At UGI Heating, Cooling & Plumbing, our trusted team of HVAC experts bring decades of experience to make your home safe, comfortable, and more energy-efficient.

Don’t wait for the snowstorm and things to go wrong – let us help you prepare your home for winter – start with the important first step towards preventative maintenance and contact us to schedule a service so you can relax and enjoy every season in your home!

We also understand that breakdowns are as unpredictable and inconvenient as stormy winter weather, so we make sure you are covered with a UGI Advantage Service Agreement that guarantees priority service for breakdowns. Our skilled HVAC technicians are available 24/7 any time of the day or night, even on holidays, even in the middle of the arctic cold night, to make sure your home is safe and comfy by delivering solutions customized for your household.

Rely on UGI Heating, Cooling & Plumbing for furnace inspection, furnace repair, boiler repair, heat pump installation, and all of your whole-home HVAC needs in Lancaster, PA, Reading, PA, Harrisburg, PA, the Lehigh Valley, PA, and surrounding towns and neighborhoods.