The Heating Season Begins…

As autumn progresses, daily temperatures begin to drop.  And so the heating season begins.  It’s that time of year when particular attention should be paid to making sure that your furnace is in good operating condition.  This means that the blower motor and burners should be thoroughly cleaned, old filters should be replaced, and the cyclic operation tested to make sure that everything works properly.  The cyclic operation is tested simply by turning up your thermostat to a temperature above the ambient where the burners should ignite and the blower motor should begin circulating air.  When the thermostat is turned down to a temperature below the ambient, the burners should turn off and the blower motor should also stop after a few minutes.  If you furnace is in a closet, make sure that anything stored in the closet that is combustible is removed and stored elsewhere or discarded.  If you will be using a gas logs unit, be sure that the burner and logs are free from dust and lint before using.  In addition, be sure that the unit is properly ventilated, your chimney damper is open or you have a window open to draw in air with a non-vented appliance.  Gas ranges are NOT intended to be used as heating appliances – please do not light all burners and keep it going indefinitely.  Carbon Monoxide can fill an enclosed room and become deadly.  Electric furnaces do not have this problem because they are not gas burning appliances.  However, heat can eventually cause wiring insulation to become brittle and short circuits can occur, leading to fires in homes and businesses.  When the heating demand is increased on boiler applications, pumps should be checked to make that water flow is not restricted and that all safety devices are operational.  Similarly, in geothermal applications water flow is critical in heat transfer between the heat source and the heat sink.  It is imperative that all piping, pumps and controls be inspected to assure proper operation and the prevention of loss due to fire.  Lastly, if you don’t know how to service your heating equipment, call a qualified service company!

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It’s Wintertime!!!

 

Now that Christmas is over and the unusually warm weather sweeping the country is gone, it is time to take some precautions against the effects of cold weather.  Actually, it’s past time.  As silly as it sounds, having your furnace or chimney checked and prepared for winter is something that should have been done in the fall, while the weather was comfortable.  If you’ve procrastinated and put off doing what should have been done months ago, then you might have somewhat of an uphill struggle depending on your part of the country.  In any case, gas and oil furnaces and chimneys should be checked to make sure that carbon monoxide won’t be a problem.  Electric furnaces should also be checked to make sure that all high voltage wiring is in good condition and won’t be a problem later on.  All heating equipment should be cleaned and the air filters replaced at least on a yearly basis.  In addition, gas piping should be inspected for leaks.  Fires and explosions from leaking gas lines seem to be making headlines more often these days.  If you smell gas and know where to turn the main gas valve off – DO IT; then call the gas utility company and report the problem.  Otherwise get out of your building, get a safe distance away, such as across the street or further if need be; call the gas utility and report a problem.  Lastly, don’t hesitate to call 911 and request fire department assistance.  Remember, it’s better to have the fire department on the scene and prepared for an emergency if nothing happens rather than not have emergency assistance if a fire or explosion occurs.  At this time of year, many people will also use portable kerosene and oil filled electric heaters.  These types of heaters must be used with an abundance of caution.  These heaters are typically used inside homes and small spaces.  These heaters also have strict distance requirements and must be kept away from combustible material.  Moreover, small children must be kept away from these heaters while in operation because of the potential burn hazard.  Furthermore, if heat tapes are in use, be sure they are in good condition and are heating water lines as intended.  Be sure that the tapes or wraps are not in contact with combustible material.  If using pipe insulation, be sure that the insulation covers all exposed piping that is subjected to subfreezing temperatures.  Moreover, if your house is on a crawlspace, don’t forget to close the vents on the exterior sides as leaving them open will cause the interior to lose heat and the HVAC unit to run longer than necessary.

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