Nifty Tips for Maintaining Your Home Heating System
Just as tuning up your car on a regular basis is essential to keep it running efficiently and dependably, regular care and maintenance is just as important for your home heating system. Heating system manufacturers recommend that you have your furnace and heating equipment completely cleaned and tuned every year, and there are good reasons for this. Yearly furnace tune-ups can reduce your heating bills as much as 10%. They also help spot and correct problems and prevent them from causing breakdowns; and they even help extend the life of your equipment.
It’s usually best to perform your furnace tune-up just before the winter season kicks in. You’ll have the confidence of knowing that your heating system is in tip-top shape for the winter ahead. You’ll also beat the winter rush of tune-up procrastinators and those who need to schedule service because their heating systems have broken down.
In addition to getting annual tune-ups, here’s a list of simple things you can do year-round that will help keep your home heating system running smoothly.
- Install a Programmable Thermostat: A programmable thermostat can help you reduce unnecessary load, wear and tear on your furnace…as well as reduce your energy consumption. You can set your thermostat so that your heating system only runs when you’re at home. It will automatically turn on or off at pre-determined times. You can also set temperatures to automatically adjust at different times of the day or night. Most programmable thermostats go for about $150…but they can pay for themselves in no time!
- Be a Frequent Filterer: Check your furnace filters every month or two during the heating season, and if need be, replace them. Your Horizon heating service technician can show you how to do this.
- Check for Smoke Signals: Be alert to trouble signals such as black smoke rising from the chimney, soot collecting at the burner, strange odors, or surging water in a boiler. These may indicate malfunction or improper adjustment, and you should get professional help.
- Achieve Balance: If you have hot and cold spots in your home, or if one area of your home is getting more heat than it needs, your heating system probably needs to be balanced. A heating technician can do this for you.
- Plug Those Leaks: Once a year, inspect your heating ducts to look for air leaks. You can repair them with quality duct tape. Also inspect windows and doorways for drafts — seal with caulk or install draft guards.
- Insulate Yourself: Heating ducts and water or steam pipes that pass through unheated areas, such as attics, crawl spaces and basements should be covered with duct insulation or unfaced R-11 insulating batts or blankets. This adds up to energy saved for you.
- Be a Dust Buster: If you have radiators, convectors, or baseboard heating units, vacuum them regularly. Dust acts as insulation and wastes heat. Also, clean your furnace’s fan blades at least once a year and keep the area around the furnace free of dust, lint and litter.
- Let it Bleed: Once a year, you should bleed the air from hot-water radiators, because air in the lines inhibits circulation. Just open each radiator valve, hold a cup under it and keep it there until water begins to come out. This gets rid of the air.
- Use the Right Paint: For the best performance, paint radiators with special radiator paint. Your hardware store can provide this for you. A quality oil-based paint is recommended; it is more heat-resistant and durable than latex paints. Also, if you paint your radiator black, it will generate more heat than if you paint it white or a neutral color.
- Don’t Block the Flow: Don’t block air inlets and outlets, including radiators, with furniture, drapes or clothing.