As the temperature goes from hot to cold, it is important to know your HVAC system will be able to make the transition. According to many weather reports, including the farmers almanac, winter 2014/15 will be a cold and snowy winter (especially for the North East). If this winter is a repeat of last year then it will be with us for a while. Living in a home or apartment that does not have heating, or only has improper heating, is extremely difficult, and it becomes almost impossible if you have younger children or older adults in the space. There will be circumstances that require you to completely replace you HVAC system, and there are repairs that you will need that will be more extensive. There are, however, a few very common problems that arise with HAVC systems. If people don't recognize these common issues then they might think there system is completely shot. This is not the case.
1) One of the most common and fixable problems you'll find is a broken thermostat. The problem can be fixed for relatively low costs, and it also is a rather quick fix. A broken thermostat won't shut down your system completely, but it will ensure that you can never get the temperature in your home right. Try and fix this problem sooner than later because it can only lead to more problems later on down the road.
2) Another very common problem is a dirty filter. A dirty filter can be fixed without even calling anyone. If you know what type of filter is in your system then you can figure out the proper ways to clean. Filters are made with different materials, and as a result the cleaning method is different between the filters. If your notice that your system is working, but it's not pumping out air at full force, then your problem is probably your filter. Try and fix this problem quickly because once your filter is full then debris begins to get lodged in your system.
3) For some older machines, the pipes and lines can get damaged, which will lead to leaks. If refrigerants start leaking then your will system won't work properly (this only applies to cooling units). This won't be an expensive fix, but it should be handled sooner than later.
If your heating or cooling systems stops working, or just doesn't work as well, don't panic right away. Take a deep breath and hopefully the fix to your system will be quick and cheap.