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Fall 2014 Newsletter
Ways to Prolong the Life of Your Heating System
Heating and cooling manufacturers build their products to last, and with the proper care and use of the heater in your home, you can expect a lengthy service life from it.
However "proper care" and "proper use" are essential to receive the most years out of a heating system. Heaters come with a manufacturer’s estimated lifespan. If you neglect the system and don’t take steps to prolong its service, you cannot hope for the heater to reach or exceed this milestone, and you will end up paying for a new replacement heater much earlier than you should.
Below are some of the steps to take that will help ensure the heater in your home provides you with many years of efficient and effective warmth:
- Schedule annual pre–season maintenance: This is the essential step in guarding a heater against early replacement. Without regular maintenance, most heating systems will not even make it to half their estimated lifespan. Every fall, arrange for a professional technician to come to your home to inspect and tune–up the heater. The technician will locate places where repair needs are developing, make adjustments to decrease wear and tear and increase efficiency, and clean the unit so it is in top shape.
- Regularly change/clean the air filter: The majority of heaters (furnaces, heat pumps) use forced–air heating, and these systems have an air filter installed to protect their cabinet from an influx of debris coming through the return air vents. You must change this filter (or clean it if you have a permanent filter) once a month during the heating season, or else clogging in the filter will begin to put damaging strain on the heater.
- Maintain lower thermostat settings: Pushing the thermostat up to the highest possible setting (often 90°F) will not provide you with faster or better comfort. Instead, it will only keep the heater running longer until it reaches the set temperature. This puts extra strain on the system, not to mention increasing the bills. Try to maintain a lower but comfortable temperature, such as 72°F.
- Call for repairs promptly: Do not ever let a heater continue to run if you suspect it has a malfunction. Even the smallest fault in a heater will make it run with increased stress, and this will spread to other components, wearing down the entire system. Whenever you notice odd behavior from a heater, call for professionals as soon as you can to restore it and protect the rest of the system.
If you follow the above advice and rely on a qualified and professional heating service whenever you need help, there is no reason you shouldn’t enjoy many years of comfort from your investment in a heating system.
Steps to Take if Your Heater Breaks Down During the Winter
It’s one of the least pleasant scenarios to imagine during a cold winter evening: your furnace, heat pump, boiler, or other heating system abruptly stops working. You can try to cover yourself with blankets and hope that the heater turns back on, but chances are high that it won’t fix itself. The heater will need help, and there are some steps you can take to see how serious the problem is and what you can do about it.
One thing you absolutely should not do is to change into a "do–it–yourself hero" and attempt to fix the heating system on your own. This can cause further damage to the heater, and with a gas–powered system it might create serious health hazards. If it comes down to repairs, call for professional heating technicians to handle the work.
Follow these steps if your heater breaks down
- Check on the heater’s power source: It’s possible that the heating system has lost its connection to its energy supply. For electrically–powered heaters (heat pumps, electrical furnaces and boilers), make sure that the heater is still connected to the house’s electrical system. If you have a gas–powered heater, look to see if the pilot light has gone out and attempt to relight it if it has. Don’t try anything further with a gas heater if this doesn’t work.
- Check the thermostat: User error on the settings for a thermostat can often account for a heating system shutting down when it shouldn’t. See that the programming on the thermostat is correct.
- Check on circuit breakers: Sometimes a heating system will trip circuit breakers (or blow a fuse if your home still uses a fuse box) and lose power. This applies to many modern gas heaters as well, which use electrical igniters to start. If any breakers have been tripped, reset them and see if the heater comes back on. If it trips the breaker again, than the heater likely has an electrical malfunction.
- Call an emergency repair technician: If none of the steps above get your heater started again, then you should call a repair company that offers 24 hour emergency service and works on a variety of heating systems. If you have a gas–powered heater, you should shut off the gas flow while waiting for the repairs to arrive as a safety precaution. (Now you can go get the blankets.)
To help keep your heating system from a breakdown, make sure that you schedule a preventive maintenance visit for your heater before the cold weather arrives. A skilled maintenance technician will find places where the heating system needs adjustments and tune–ups, and anything that requires repairs. With the right professional helping out, your heater will be in excellent shape for the whole winter.