The Importance Of Maintaining Furnaces

In America, throughout 2017, people used 3.82 trillion kWh of energy. According to the EIA, residential customers used 37.4 percent of this. Consequently, everyday folks like us are the largest consumers of energy!

There’s more, however. Over the same period, Americans used 7.26 billion petrol barrels. This equates to over nineteen million barrels per day.

How is this relevant to you though?

Simply because your furnace has a big role to play in energy use, if your furnace has not been inspected for a while, you might have an ineffective heater already. This wastes a lot of energy and results in you paying over the odds to warm your property.

Moreover, it might not keep you warm enough anymore to tide you over during the winter months. That idea ought to give you the motivation to address this issue.

Therefore, do not sacrifice comfort! Take heed of this furnace maintenance advice before the colder months arrive!

Important Step Before Maintenance: Turn off the Energy Supply

Before carrying out any home furnace maintenance tasks, ensure that you switch off the energy source. This applies to all tasks, even straightforward filter replacements. You want to avoid starting a fire, getting an electric shock or sustaining burns.

1) Put a new Filter in

A filter protects the interior components from the debris and dust that the heater draws in. In addition, it boosts the quality of air indoors, because it stops contaminants from being recirculated. That latter benefit is significant because the air indoors can be far more polluted than the air outdoors.

Needless to say, over months of use furnace filters can become clogged up with gunk. Apart from limiting the flow of air, filthy filters will make your property unsafe. Keeping your filters clean will ensure that you stay healthy and make your furnace run efficiently.

Therefore, prior to using your furnace over the winter, swap your dirty filter for a new model. This should be replaced each month over peak season. You should still consult your instruction manual to find out what the manufacturer recommends.

Should your furnace use a filter that is washable, remove it, and clean it thoroughly. Just like filters that can be replaced, this should be washed once per month (at least) throughout the high season.

2) Brush and Hoover the Blow Blades

The majority of the advice here involves a hoover, so think about purchasing one if you do not own one already. This will be handy as well when you have to clean the outdoor unit of your air conditioner.

In any event, to clean your furnace, begin by visually inspecting its’ blow blades. As the name indicates, they circulate warm air through the property. If they are filled with debris, the air they circulate will be filled with contaminants as well.

Use a screwdriver to remove the screws and lift the whole blower out of the furnace. Now it’s time to hoover! Also, you could use a brush to get rid of the debris, then hoover it to suck it out.

3) Check the Blow Belt for any Damage or Wear and Tear

Now, inspect the blower belt for any cracks or fraying. If anything like this is noticeable, replace it. They are affordable, for roughly $5, and easy to replace.

4) Fire Test the Burner

The flame in your furnace burner heats the air over the winter months. This is the furnace’s primary heat source. It sets the gas alight that passes through and sends hot air to the exchanger. The guys at say that this is the most important test.

Should the burner malfunction, with a build-up of dirt or a leak, for example, it will negatively impact safety and efficiency. For this reason, burner flame inspections are a key part of maintaining your furnace. The flame color will indicate whether it is in working order.

To determine this, turn on the power and start the thermostat. Next, examine the flame color. If it is blue with an even spread, everything is fine.

In the event that yellow flames are visible, switch the furnace off immediately. While that is a typical sign of dirty burners, it might also indicate that the heater generates carbon monoxide. This gas is lethal, so you do not want this entering your property.

Remember that 20k to 30k people each year are affected by illnesses resulting from CO poisoning. Worse still, it kills approximately 500 people every year.

You could clean the burners initially (we will explain why shortly). However, if it still produces yellow flames, it is better to hire a professional to inspect it. A company that services furnaces will make sure that you are not inhaling harmful gases.

5) Give the Burners a Hoover

Burners that produce uneven blue flames should be hoovered thoroughly. Remember to switch off the power source before starting.

A half-inch drain line roughly twenty inches long will allow you to reach the back of the burners. Fix this to the hoover and give the backspace a clean initially. Work round to the front, then hoover the blower compartment and furnace base as well.

6) Give the Fire Sensor a Wipe

The fire sensor alerts the furnace in the event of an open gas valve. It is simple to identify the sensor because it resembles a curved, thin metallic rod. You will discover this in the front area where flames are produced.

If the sensor is dirty, this can produce incorrect readings that indicate an unlit pilot (see below for more details). Therefore, clean this by wiping it gently. A lint-free, clean cloth is sufficient. However, microfiber towels are the ideal option.

7) Remove Debris and Dust From the Ignitor and Pilot

The furnace will not start when the pilot light fails to ignite. If it is filthy, the warm surface ignitor will have nothing to use to start your furnace. This is why you should clean both of these to avoid problems with your furnace’s off and on cycle.

Usually, blowing down a plastic straw will get rid of dirt and dust from these devices. Never make physical contact with the ignitor, because this is a sensitive component.

Get Your Air Conditioning System Fixed

Your air conditioning system is your lifeline in summer, but it can also be an energy hog when it is very hot or cold. Traditional HVAC units can also be quite noisy as they depend on a huge fan to evacuate and then return conditioned air from a house. New options are available that are more efficient and often quieter. It is a thought if you are in the market for a new heating and cooling unit.

The newest option is the two-stage cooling system. Actually, it has been around for a little while but is increasingly becoming miniaturized. In the past, increasing the complexity of an air conditioner increased its efficiency in line with regulations. A two-stage system is even more complex and could help you cut your utility bill.

Two-stages mean that the system has two circuits it can run. The refrigerant could be pumped through a single circuit on mild days and through both circuits on hot days. The compressor is also modified to suit this system. What this basically means is that your cooling system can act like a smaller or larger device based on the needs. This equates to cash savings in fall and spring.

Helping To Tackle Variable Demand

Air conditioners traditionally operate by turning on the compressor when the temperature is above the target range and then turning it off once the indoor temperature is cooled. Simple compressors might only have one speed of operation and can not vary their speed according to needs. In short, there are a lot of starts and stops, and starting takes a surge of electricity.

Bicycles are simple devices, but they have gear ratios that make it easier to climb a hill. The speed during ascent is much slower, but your leg muscles do not tire from heavy exertion. You can go longer without feeling worn out. A compressor can be designed with the same logic. A lower amount of power can be used to start the system, and then it can rev up to a more powerful setting without a sudden demand for power that might also shorten the life of the compressor.

A much more significant gain comes from the fact that many homes have an HVAC system that has a lower capacity than is needed during the hottest days of summer. The only options for these homes are to add insulation or just suffer warmer indoor temperatures to prevent their air conditioner from wearing out. An oversized unit would create a larger utility bill in all seasons. Being able to adjust the effective size of your unit is the key to being comfortable in summer and efficient throughout the rest of the year.

Further Exploring The Benefits of Two-Stage Cooling

If this system runs longer than a regular unit, this just means that it is working to save you money. When it runs at the lower stage, it cools more slowly and uses substantially less energy per hour. It is like using a window unit and allowing that to cool a house in mild weather. Since less power is used, the lower stage will run for a fairly long time. The higher stage would get the job done faster but would use more electricity and be less efficient.

Perhaps the biggest perk is that the air temperature is consistent throughout the day. A larger unit will kick on and then cool the air to somewhere below the target range and then will stay off until the temperature climbs somewhere above the target range. The wider the acceptable range, the fewer times the HVAC unit needs to kick on, but it will turn on and off more frequently in summer with varying personal comfort.

With a two-stage unit, the highest stage can be used to quickly reduce the temperature, and then the lower stage can be used to maintain the temperature. In the hottest weather, the lower stage will run fairly frequently while the higher stage will only kick in operation when the sun starts winning the battle. The only way to be more efficient is to add extra insulation or plant trees.

The final advantage is just that it keeps the air free from excess moisture in summer. Since hot air holds more moisture, it contributes to discomfort by making it harder for sweat to evaporate. A unit that constantly operates in a lower setting has the added effect of stripping more moisture by condensing it out of the air.