At this time of the year, ‘tips to get your furnace in shape for winter’ should top your search list. With the holiday season in full swing, temperatures are reaching extremes. As you very well know, the winter in Vaughan is projected to get very cold.
When this happens, you certainly do not want to be caught without a heating system. With home appliances like this one, you never know when one little fault or the other can escalate. If you do not watch out for it, you may be left disappointed when it’s time to use your furnace.
In this article, we are going to be explaining how to prepare your furnace for winter. We will take a look into how the furnace works, which will help you know how best to maintain it. Let’s get started!
How Your Heating System Works
While you are not training to become the best furnace technician in your part of town, a little knowledge will help your maintenance efforts.
More than likely, a furnace is part of a multi-system set-up that regulates the temperature in your house — the HVAC. The HVAC system stands for Heating, Ventilation, and Air Conditioning system. As you may expect, the set-up performs both heating and cooling functions.
The HVAC usually has three major working styles:
- Forced air: In this system, hot or cold air is forced through metal ducts through a blower. The heating or cooling function being performed determines what kind of air is blown.
- Gravity system: The principles of gravity come into play here. Cold air sinks, and hot air rises. Typically, this forms the basis of the system. A gravity system is usually placed in the basement. Then, the hot air will move up as it gets heated, and when it cools, it drops down to be heated. This system does not work with air conditioning — only heating.
- Radiant system: This system also does not work with an air conditioning unit. The ceilings, walls, and floors are heated as hot water passes through pipes, with heat radiating through the entire room.
Components of the HVAC
The HVAC is made up of many components. Depending on its design, there may be extra parts of it that perform specialized functions. At the most basic level, any HVAC system comprises the following features.
- The furnace: This is the central heat generator part of the temperature control set-up in your house. It contains a heat exchanger, which produces the heat emanating from the furnace.
Natural gas is the most common fuel used, but heating oil, propane, and even solar energy are other available options. In some designs, the heat source may be electrical resistance or a heat pump.
The furnace is usually located in the attic or basement. A special enclosure can also be created for its purpose.
- Air conditioning: There are no prizes for guessing that this is for cooling. It makes use of electricity and a coolant liquid. The liquid passes through an evaporator coil, which converts it into gas.
The gaseous refrigerant passes to the condenser (located outside) and is turned back to liquid. In this process, the air temperature reduces.
- Ductwork: After either the hot or cold air has been generated, it must pass to different parts of your house. The ductwork deals with the transfer of air at the desired temperature.
The ductwork is essentially a series of ducts and vents through which air moves. Many times, you will find it close to the ceiling.
- Thermostat: This is easily referred to as the brain of your climate control system. The thermostat can turn on or off automatically in response to changes in your room temperature.
The thermostat is usually placed on an easy access wall in your home. When the room temperature deviates from the preset level, the thermostat can turn on or off the furnace. This helps to maintain that optimum temperature you like.
Tips to Get Your Furnace in Shape for Winter
Now that you understand how your device works, we can discuss getting your furnace ready for use in winter. Many of these tips are such that you can do them on your own.
However, if you do not feel comfortable, that is also fine. There are furnace repair services in Vaughan to help you. Now let’s get to them.
Inspect the thermostat
As we have mentioned, the thermostat is the brain of your unit. It works to regulate the temperature of your furnace, and consequently, your house. Before winter, your furnace has probably been lying quietly since the cooling mode is more in use.
With winter now on its way, you have to be sure the thermostat is still working well. Turn the thermostat to heat, then raise the temperature to higher than the current room temperatures. You should hear the heating kick in. If the furnace does not start, check if the furnace wires are correctly connected.
If the wires are okay, your next stop should be the breakers. At this point, if the breakers are not in good condition, best invite a technician. Again, it is better to make this check early, to make the necessary repairs before it gets deathly cold.
Next up are the air filters
The next tip to get your furnace in shape for winter is based on the air filter. The function of the air filter is to let clean air through while keeping dirt and other pollutants at bay. Ideally, the filter should be changed every few months. Some experts may even prescribe a monthly change.
If you use a permanent, electrostatic filter, frequent changes are unnecessary. Those can and should be washed just as frequently. You should also check the filters installed in extra features, such as a humidifier, if it’s a part of your set-up.
A dirty filter will prevent enough warm air from getting to the spaces in the house. With winter closing in, you should take steps to prevent that from happening.
The heat exchanger is essential too
The heat exchanger is the component generating the much-desired heat. To care for the heat exchanger in your furnace, you should brush and then vacuum it. This helps to preserve and lengthen its lifespan.
During this cleaning, you should also look for cracks in the exchanger. Cracks here may lead to a carbon monoxide leak into the house. Doing this particular piece of maintenance may seem daunting. If you feel so, call a professional technician.
Protect your AC condenser
Since winter is almost here, you may find that the AC unit of your climate control may have much less use. Regardless, the condenser, which sits outside, will require protection from the environment.
Possible environmental assaults on your condenser include falling icicles or tree branches landing on it. There may also be other debris going around in winter, and the condenser is susceptible to harm from them. Condenser repair is usually expensive. With all of the regular holiday expenses, this is one you don’t want to add to the list.
You can place a large object like a trash can lid on top of the condenser. Fasten and secure the lid with strong cords. You can also use pieces of wood to board up the fan. However, do not use tarps made of plastic. These cause moisture to build and can create problems later.
Another pro tip to get your furnace in shape for winter is to clean the vents. It is very likely the vents and registers have gathered up dust and dirt during the hot summer months. By cleaning them, you increase their airflow capacity.
If you have floor vents, you can expose them. Do this by removing blankets, furniture and other such items obstructing them and then get them cleaned.
Test your furnace ignition
If you are using old version furnaces, you may have to get the pilot light relit. Newer, modern furnaces use an electric ignition with a push-button. If the ignition does not work initially, all you usually have to do is push the reset button.
If pushing reset gives no response, you may check the circuit breakers. If they seem to be working fine, you may need to get expert help. A technician may eventually have to replace the switch entirely.
Check other smaller parts
Next on the list of tips to get your furnace in shape for winter is a check of the smaller parts. One of these parts is the blower motor. This is responsible for the push of air through the vents to the eventual spaces.
You may have to start by checking if your blower needs lubrication. If it does, open it up after killing power to it. Remove and clean the caps covering the bearings. Then, finally, lubricate the motor.
If your furnace uses oil as fuel, you may need to change oil filters and clean the nozzles regularly. The heat exchanger may also need rigorous brushing to get it cleaned. This is because oil does not burn cleanly, unlike gas.
Check chimney and detectors
The chimney is also one important place to check to ensure furnace efficiency. Carbon from the burning can quickly build up in the chimney. It is also possible that you find small animals in your chimney. You should inspect for these possibilities periodically.
Because of your furnace, you will have carbon monoxide detectors at strategic places in your house. In preparing to use your furnace in the winter, an important tip is to check if the sensors are still in good shape. If they aren’t, you should replace them immediately.
The detectors help to warn of carbon monoxide leakage. The gas, being a silent killer, should not seep into the house. Early detection is most welcome.
Get professional inspection
An all-important tip to get your furnace in shape for winter is to organize an inspection appointment. After you have tried your hands at putting your unit in a good state, you should seek the expert opinion that comes with a professional eye.
A furnace technician will check for and then correct any potential problems which may arise later.
In the same vein, a professional will be able to pinpoint particular issues with airflow pressure and damaged coils. Any problems with the heat exchanger will easily be detected.
These may not be readily apparent to your untrained eye. The furnace, being multi-component equipment, has many possible points of concern, for which only professionals are prepared.
Get your house ready
The tips to get your furnace in shape for winter may be for nothing if your house is unprepared. You can prepare your house by sealing all the gaps through which air might escape. In the same vein, ensure that the doors and windows function properly to keep the heat in and the cold out.
You can also improve insulation in your attic and all around the house by either increasing or replacing the materials. If you can, get ceiling fans to turn in a clockwise direction if they do not already. This will redirect warm air downwards, further heating up the room.
Related article: What is the Cost of Furnace Repair in Ontario?
Why You Should Maintain Your Furnace
When you have any device or appliance, your best bet for the most convenient use is regular maintenance.
For an item with such a level of importance as your furnace, your maintenance culture should be stronger. Here’s why:
Prevents expensive repairs
The furnace is not the cheapest home appliance to install. This also means that when a major breakdown happens, you may have to turn out the big bucks for it.
A regularly scheduled maintenance program will help to spot potential problems from malfunctions and general wear and tear. Early detection often leads to early correction before there is an entire shutdown.
Reduced electricity consumption
Regular servicing of your furnace leads to better efficiency of the unit. This is because parts are cleaned, tested and repaired. In doing so, your furnace will work seamlessly and consume less energy to heat your home.
In contrast, if maintenance sessions are very few or even nonexistent, your furnace will work much harder. This essentially results in greater energy consumption, which is simply not ideal.
Improved quality of air
In the course of heating your home, the air filters will get dirty. Dirty filters may release pollutants that make their way into the house. In fact, a study showed that there are more pollutants indoors than outdoors.
A huge reason to learn tips to get your furnace in shape for winter is to ensure better air quality. With winter causing you to spend more time indoors, the best for you or your loved ones is to breathe quality air. Undertaking maintenance activities for your furnace will help you get healthier air.
No one will like to experience home accidents. But sadly, some equipment we use at home can lead to one if managed poorly. Depending on the type of heat source, if there is a leak, carbon monoxide can build up in your house.
Because it is not easily detectable, you may not notice and can get poisoned by it. Besides this, temperature fluctuations from malfunctioning hardware can be risky. A maintenance habit will prevent and reduce such risks.
Longer furnace use
This is simple. Maximizing furnace efficiency via frequent maintenance will lead to a more extended life. If you keep your furnace in good condition, it can easily last up to ten years, and even longer.
However, if the furnace is allowed to work for long periods without restoration, you may end up buying a new one. That is not usually cheap.
The warranty may cover the cost of some malfunctions of your furnace. However, many warranty systems will only kick in if the unit has been under proper maintenance.
Another reason to keep up with maintenance is to have evidence of the regular maintenance of your furnace. With this, you can make claims and have the costs covered.
Virtually all the other reasons to seek out furnace maintenance tips help save you money. By living in and breathing higher quality air, you get to save money on healthcare.
Furthermore, by preventing costly repairs, you get to save money that may have been spent on the unit. You also get to save by not having to purchase a new unit and by getting the warranty cover.
We have delivered to you pro tips to get your furnace in shape for the winter. Since winter is closing in, the best time to start putting them in effect is now.
If after trying your hands, you still feel in need of professional services, choose ALP Heating. Our furnace maintenance and repair services in Vaughan are always available to you.
We are home to professionally trained technicians who will conduct effective maintenance repairs on your furnace. Let’s get your home or office unit back in shape!
Contact us today.