Upgrading Your Pipes

Tips For Getting Your Heating System Ready For The Months Ahead

Although summer is in full swing, it's only a matter time before warm weather gives way to colder temperatures. Chances are your heating system has remained dormant throughout the late spring and summer months, so it's important to know how to properly revive your heating system.

General Heating System Tips

Here are some helpful tips you can use to prepare your heating system for winter duty. You can carry out these tips yourself or have an experienced HVAC specialist perform these and other maintenance tasks on your behalf:

  • Clean or replace the air filter – Many experts recommend that you replace your heating system's air filter at least every three months. If you haven't gotten around to doing that just yet, now is the time to replace your old air filter with a fresh filter offering a similar or higher MERV (minimum efficiency reporting value) rating as the previous filter.
  • Check the flue for obstructions – A dormant furnace flue can easily house small nesting animals, so it's a good idea to make sure these areas are clear before restarting your heating system. Also, be on the lookout for signs of rust and corrosion on flues and chimneys made from metal.
  • Check the blower fan belt and motor - If your heating system uses a belt-driven blower fan, make sure the belt hasn't dried out, frayed or cracked during the system's dormancy. A belt that shows any sign of wear and tear should be replaced. Don't forget to lubricate the blower fan motor to prevent friction and heat from damaging the motor.
  • Clear all obstructions from around the heating system – If you have any paper products, aerosols, loose debris or anything else that could prove flammable around your heating system, you should relocate these items to a safer area as soon as possible.
  • Check the circuit breaker and power switches – When it's time to turn your system on, you'll want to be sure it comes on without a hitch. Make sure the circuit breaker is set to the "ON" position before turning on the heating system's main power.
  • Check the thermostat – Many heating problems are often caused by faulty thermostats. Make sure it has fresh batteries, firm wiring connections and little to no dust, dirt or debris trapped within the unit.

Tips for Oil and Gas-Fired Furnaces

Before you turn on your oil or gas-fired furnace, you'll want to take the following steps to ensure it works flawlessly throughout the winter:

  • Check all gas/oil lines before using the furnace – Make sure there are no leaks or loose fittings. All emergency shutoff valves and switches should be inspected prior to ignition.
  • Check the burners – The burners should be relatively free of soot and superficial rust. If necessary, you can carefully clean the burners with a stiff wire brush. Burners that are severely rusted or physically damaged should be replaced.
  • Check the heat exchanger – Check the exterior of the heat exchanger for any cracks or holes caused by corrosion or physical damage. You may need the help of your service technician and an inspection camera to check the heat exchanger's interior.

Tips for Electric Furnaces

Before turning on your electric furnace, make sure the heating elements are in good physical condition. If the unit has an emergency disconnect switch, make sure this is turned to the "ON" position before you attempt to start the furnace. Don't forget to check the power at the circuit breaker panel.

No matter what type of heating system your home has, it won't be any good if it's in dire need of replacement. Most heating systems are capable of lasting 15 to 20 years with the proper amount of maintenance and upkeep. If your heating system is well beyond its projected service life or if it suffers from constant breakdowns, then you may want to consider replacing it with a newer and more energy efficient system.

For more information, contact a local heating company like Redlands Plumbing Heating & Air Conditioning.