Some Key Points About Heating To Keep In Mind Before Winter Arrives
Generally speaking, most people usually don’t have major troubles with their home heating systems. But as Murphy’s Law states, “anything that can go wrong, will go wrong.” And with home heating systems, that is usually in the middle of winter...and at a time when you least expect it or that is inopportune.
Preparation and prevention are the best ways to deal with Murphy and his law. The autumn months are always a good time to familiarize yourself with the essential workings of your home heating system. Before grief strikes and you experience a heating system breakdown, take some time to review your system’s manuals and paperwork for proper operational instructions as well as simple adjustments that you can make yourself. Also, take some time to visit the manufacturer’s website; it’s always a great place to pick up a few tips on both operation and maintenance so the worst is less likely to happen.
Nothing Beats a Pre-Season Tune Up
During the year, your heating system accumulates dust and dirt, making it less efficient and costing you additional money in utility bills. The vast majority of heating service calls and repairs are caused by lack of regular heating system tune-ups and maintenance.
A pre-season tune-up, inspection and cleaning of your heating system is an easy way to prevent costly furnace and heating system breakdowns BEFORE they occur and to assure that your heating system is performing at peak efficiency throughout the winter. Without a doubt, it’s the smartest thing you can do to guarantee a warm, worry-free, energy-efficient home during those cold winter months. You wouldn’t think twice about giving your car a tune-up before a long trip; doesn’t it make similar sense to give your heating system a tune-up before the long winter ahead?
Use All Your Senses
Energy efficiency in home heating systems is a natural result of good maintenance, and regardless of your system type there are certain general rules which, if observed, can save you time and expense in the long run. Now’s a good time to stop, look, listen and feel; give your heating system a complete inspection using sight, sound and touch to see if something is out of place or if something odd is going on.
In terms of maintenance, there are a number of factors to bear in mind when seeking to keep your home heating system in good working order. Regardless of the system, always keep an eye on the condition of the chimney and the vent connection pipe. Problems with the chimney can be a real pain and expensive to sort out. The heat exchangers in boilers leak water, which is pretty easy to pinpoint. With furnaces it is a bit more serious as combustion gases will be mixing with air in the house, and this is why it’s especially important to have furnaces regularly inspected for leaks.
Make sure that the controls are always set appropriately to provide the recommended air and water temperatures. This will assure that you are not putting unnecessary stress on your heating system, as well as maximize your energy efficiency and comfort.. Consult the manual if in doubt.
Air quality is also an important factor in connection with home heating systems. Unintended air leaks in many homes provide some of the combustion air for the heating system, and a number of the combustion by-products can be harmful to health. Making sure that the chimney is properly cleared and maintained -- and that the system is adequately ventilated -- will reduce these risks. Purchasing a sealed-combustion unit is often recommended for safety and optimal efficiency.
If you have one of the old horizontal, plastic venting systems this should be replaced with a steel vent pipe, as all horizontal venting was recently recalled due to risks of gas leaking into the domestic air.
Upgrading Your Home Heating System
Autumn is also a great time to upgrade from an old heating system to a more modern, energy-efficient heating system. Nothing provides more peace of mind than going into the winter season with a factory fresh heater!
Furnaces and boilers are the main heat sources for homes in the United States. Furnaces distribute hot air through ducts, whereas boilers use hot water through pipes. The efficiency rating of both is measured in AFUE (Annual Fuel Utilization Efficiency).
Older furnaces and boilers can be upgraded for increased efficiency, although it may work out cheaper to get a new one. Fuel bills can be reduced by installing one of the modern systems which typically have energy ratings of around 97%. A heating contractor can recommend the type of furnace or boiler you’ll need after you optimised your home’s energy efficiency. Choose a unit of the appropriate size for your needs, and go for a sealed-combustion model which is more efficient.
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