With autumn's cooler evening temperatures already creeping in and the predict 20's next week, now is the right time to ensure your furnace is prepared for the winter weather ahead. Getting a head start on winter furnace maintenance can be the difference between a warm, comfortable home this season and dealing with unexpected repairs and bills all winter.
Here are three important winter furnace maintenance tips to help you in preparing your heating system for colder weather:
1) Change Your Furnace Filter.
Forced air furnaces require the use of filters to prevent dust and dirt from blowing throughout your house. They also act as a shield for the machine's complex inner workings, keeping it damage-free. A fresh filter guarantees the best performance.
Changing your filter is a minor, but vital, task. Any furnace with a filter that's excessively dirty has to work much harder than necessary to do its job. A harder working furnace leads to inefficiency, which in turn increases the already-high cost of home heating. Further, a clogged filter could lead to a furnace overheating and shutting down, thus requiring costly repairs.
The best tactic is to check your furnace filter every four weeks during colder months when it's working it's hardest. If the filter is dirty, replace it. The money you save on efficiency and a damage-free system will more than make up for the minor cost of more frequent filter replacements.
2) Keep the Furnace Area Clean and Clear.
This seems obvious, but avoid storing flammable substances or materials near your furnace. Crowding your furnace can lead to unexpected fires, significant damage to your home and danger to your family and pets. However convenient it may seem to simply "store it there" for the summer, consider the chance that you may well forget any items you have left on or near your furnace. Don't take chances: give your furnace the room it needs to operate safely.
Additionally, vacuum and clean regularly around your furnace. While you may have removed any and all flammable items from the area, remember that dust and lint can build up and create a fire hazard. An excess amount of dust and lint can also cause your filter to become clogged sooner than usual, requiring more frequent replacement.
Keeping the area clean and clutter-free is your best bet for the most efficient operation.
3) Pay Attention to Your System.
Another gift you can give your furnace is the benefit of your attention. If you've changed the filter and even had it professionally checked by a qualified HVAC technician, remember that the unexpected can still occur.
For example, during the furnace's initial use every season, it's not uncommon to encounter an odd odor. This is usually resolved by opening a window for a short time while the furnace cycles through its first effort of the year. However, if the smell persists or seems very strong, call a professional. DO NOT take a chance if you even suspect that chemicals or toxins could be circulating in your home. Carbon monoxide, for example, is poisonous and potentially lethal if it is leaking into the living spaces of your home.
Trust the Experts!
These three tips are all easily carried out by most homeowners. However, if you're in doubt of your furnace's health and readiness for the coming cold weather, call Howell Heating. A pre-season furnace cleaning and check-up by a trusted professional can alert you to potential problems or just confirm that your system is healthy and ready for winter. It seems with Google, it is easy to get lulled into the false sense of expertise by clicking on one YouTube video. However, if you are unsure it's best to call us before you potentially damage an expensive part or harm the equipment or even yourself. The comfort and peace of mind of your family and pets are worth taking the steps needed for proper winter furnace maintenance.
Is it already that time of year again? The chill in the air says yes. Summer has ended here in MN and with it comes concerns about keeping homes warm during the fall and into the deep freeze. If you haven't given much consideration to your home's furnace over the summer -and you likely haven't- now is the time to ask yourself if the furnace is prepared to handle the cold days that will arrive soon.
The best way to know if your heating system can tackle another winter is to schedule maintenance. Our professional technicians will inspect your furnace to locate any repair needs that you should have taken care of before the chilly weather arrives. Don't delay with furnace repairs, since a sudden cold snap could strike and leave you in a freezing house.
Some common repairs your furnace may need:
Cleaning the burner - If you have a gas furnace, the burner is the component where the gas jets ignite to raise the temperature. If the burner has developed dirt and grime across it during the summer rest period, it will struggle to draw oxygen and ignite. Technicians can remove the burner and clean it off so it runs at its best.
Replacing a malfunctioning igniter - Pilot lights are becoming less common for furnaces, and they instead use electronic ignition to start. If this igniter fails, the furnace's burners will not activate. During maintenance, a technician will check that the igniter is working and inform you if you need to schedule a replacement.
Repairing the blower motor - If you also have an air conditioner, it likely uses the same blower fan to distribute air as the furnace. The motor can start to wear down and lose lubrication over the summer, or dirt along its moving parts can create strain. If you begin to hear shrieking noises from the AC, you may also have a problem for your furnace; schedule a maintenance session and whatever repair work you may need.
Replacing broken heating elements - For electric furnaces, the heating elements are the critical part of creating warmth. If one or more the heating elements burns out, the furnace will lose its heating capacity. Technician can easily replace the broken heating elements.
When you sign up for our Preferred Plan Maintenance at Howell Heating, you will receive two yearly inspections and tune-ups: one for your heater and one for your AC for only $169 a year. You'll also receive 10% to 15% off any HVAC service or repair and preferred scheduling, so you'll always have the heating repair that you need to stay warm through to spring. Call today at 651-398-1100 to learn more or schedule an appointment.
Here some of the biggest air conditioning mistakes people make, as well as how to reduce your usage and utility bills.
Mistake No. 1: Bigger is Not Always Better
Many people are inclined to buy a bigger air conditioner, assuming it will make the home colder faster. However, an oversized air conditioner doesn’t generate uniform temperatures or reduce humidity. It will also run inefficiently by cycling on and off too quickly.
Mistake No. 2: Hiding the A/C
The air conditioner may not be pretty, but neither are excessive summer electric bills. Don’t try to hide air conditioners behind shrubs or other plants. It will hinder ventilation, clog condenser coils and make the air conditioner run less efficiently.
Mistake No. 3: Ignoring Maintenance
Air conditioners are deceptively self-sufficient. Many homeowners ignore basic maintenance that can improve efficiency and comfort, and extend the life of the air conditioner. (Call today and take advantage of our spring tune-up prices.)
Mistake No. 4: Closing Unused Vents
Opinions vary on the efficiency of closing vents and doors to unused rooms. In many cases, this can decrease the efficiency of a central air conditioning system. Consult us before closing off any parts of the house for the summer. Also be careful about closing off any rooms that may have a thermostat.
Mistake No. 5: Letting the Outside
In Any air-conditioning system will struggle if you leave doors and windows open during the heat of the day – or let cool air in at night. Keeping your doors and windows open, while the air conditioner is running, forces it to work overtime to pull the humidity out of your home.
Mistake No. 6: Turning the Temperature Way Down
If you are comfortable at 78 degrees, don’t come home and turn the thermostat down to 70 degrees. It will not get you to 78 any faster. It will just skip past 78 and waste energy getting to excessively low temps.
Mistake No. 7: Heating Up the Thermostat
Make sure lamps, televisions, stereos or other heat-generators are not close enough to the thermostat to accidentally drive up the temperature reading and overwork the air conditioner.
Mistake No. 8: Not Using Ceiling Fans or Running Them Backwards
Many people think their air conditioner is a substitute for ceiling fans. Instead, they should be used in tandem. According to Energy Star, make sure the fan is switched to push air downward (typically counter-clockwise). It may seem more logical to reverse the fan so it is pulling hot air upward. However, the downward airflow creates a “wind chill effect,” which makes you feel cooler.
Mistake No. 9: Using the Wrong Fans
On the other hand, exhaust fans in the kitchen and bathroom can push cool, conditioned air out of the house. They should not be used more than absolutely necessary in the summer.
Mistake No. 10: Ignoring Maintenance
Yes, we know this is on the list twice, but forgetting to maintain your equipment is the biggest mistake we see and is worth mentioning again.
Call us today at 651-398-1100 to schedule your spring tune-up appointment!