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How Do Fall Leaves Affect Your HVAC System?

Fall leaves in Raleigh, NC

Wow, it’s that time of year when leaves start their descent, and the beauty and colors of fall starts to fade.


So let us help you make the most out of the time you have left in fall.

You probably spend a lot of time on LEAF chores, whether you’re bagging them, blowing them into piles (not into the neighbors’ yards now!), or raking…that dreaded blister-ridden sport!

Oh yeah, and you’re cleaning out your gutters, too!

But there may be one thing that’s clogged with leaves that you’re not even thinking about: your HVAC system. If leaves are blocking various parts of your HVAC system, it’s actually extremely dangerous.

Clear Your Intake and Exhaust Pipes

Assuming you have a furnace, you have an intake pipe and an exhaust pipe (usually white PVC) outside your house. As you probably already know, the air coming out of the exhaust pipe is not very clean.

The combustion process in the heat exchanger creates hazardous chemicals like carbon monoxide (CO). Usually, this gets vented outside, and of course doesn’t enter your house…unless your exhaust pipe is blocked.

One cause could be leaves!

If the exhaust pipe gets blocked, your furnace is supposed to have a safety feature that shuts itself down. But if that doesn’t work for some reason, then these dangerous fumes like CO could get into your house undetected.

So keep that furnace exhaust pipe clear, and your intake pipe too! While the intake pipe getting blocked isn’t as dangerous, it can affect your furnace as fresh air intake is tougher. And your furnace can just decide to stop working. That’s not a great situation to be in either, especially as cold air is quickly creeping up on us here in Raleigh!

Clean Your A/C Unit

Even though it’s late fall, the other part of your system that must be clear of debris is your A/C system! (That big ol’ boxy fan thing on the side or in back of your home.) The compressor – yeah, that thing – it can get clogged with leaf litter!

The consequences of this are worse than just your A/C unit not working. It can also encourage mold or bacteria growth, because the refrigerant gets stuck.

Speaking of stuck, it sounds like these stuck leaves are a huge inconvenience! Usually, the problem won’t be as bad as carbon monoxide or mold, but still, clearing your compressor of leaves is an important fall task! And while you at it, do yourself a favor and make sure bushes, plants or smaller trees aren’t suffocating it. It needs space to operate efficiently.

So go check around your furnace pipes and then turn off your A/C, and vacuum around the outside. One other thing you can do for the A/C compressor outside is buy a special cover to protect it from the elements!

So next time you are raking your leaves and cleaning your gutters, just add a couple more items to your list. In the short and long-run, it will save you time and money.

By the way, want to save even more money? Get a system tune-up! It’s never too late. 53% of our repair calls could have been prevented with regular maintenance. Click here to schedule an appointment, or call (919) 853-7910 any time!

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