Weather can change quickly, so it’s best to be prepared for season changes before they arrive. Fall marks the dawn of the heating season, and your home requires special attention to maintain a safe and healthy indoor environment when you turn on your furnace. Your plumbing needs special preparation for cold weather, too. By preparing for fall early, it can save you time, trouble and money.
Your Air Conditioning Still Needs Attention
Fall doesn’t mean the end of hot weather – you may still need your air conditioning well into the season. If you haven’t had your cooling system tuned up this year, then it is smart to get it done before the season ends.
As the fall weeds grow and leaves fall, keep an eye on your outside air conditioner to keep the coil clean and unobstructed so it will be ready to go for next season. When you no longer need cooling, you may consider covering your air conditioner to protect it from yard and tree debris. Air conditioners do not require covers to protect them from winter precipitation however, and heat pumps should never be covered.
Did you know that fall is a great time to purchase a new air conditioner? Prices for cooling systems are lowest in the fall and spring when HVAC contractors are not as busy. Look for good deals on air conditioners, and on furnaces, too. Consider replacing these items in the slow fall and spring seasons to take advantage of lower prices.
Furnace Safety Checks are Critical for Health and Safety
Fire, carbon monoxide (CO) poisoning and indoor air pollution are potential hazards of heating your home. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports that over 170 Americans die every year from accidental CO poisoning alone. Furnace safety checks, CO detectors and smoke detectors are your main defense against heating system hazards.
Furnace safety checks should be done by highly-trained heating technicians like those at Anthony PHC. A partial list of tasks that should be performed during a safety inspection include:
- Examine the heat exchanger for cracks with state-of-the-art inspection cameras
- Test for any dangerous gas leaks such as CO
- Test and clean the ignition system for safe and proper operation
- Test the safety and control circuits
- Ensure the exhaust is venting properly
CO and smoke detectors only work if they are functioning correctly. Change the batteries in your CO and smoke alarms at the start of every fall, and make sure there is at least one of each on every level of your home. Also consider installing the new WiFi smart alarm systems that will alert you to trouble via your phone when you are away from home.
Furnace Tune Ups Done Annually Save Energy and Satisfy Warranties
Safety comes first, but saving money and optimizing the life of your heating system is important, too. While your Anthony PHC technician is performing your furnace safety inspection, have them perform your annual furnace tune up. It is important to know that many air conditioning and heating components require annual maintenance to keep their warranties in effect. And before you turn on your furnace, check your filter and replace it if needed.
Humidifiers Need Annual Maintenance, Too
Heating system humidifiers require annual maintenance, too. Have your Anthony PHC technician clean and check your humidifier and replace the water panel. Before turning on your furnace, make sure your humidifier is turned on, then turn your humidistat to 35% relative humidity, or the #4 setting, for optimal humidity. Proper humidity levels can prevent the growth of viruses and bacteria and keep your nasal passages healthy.
Indoor Air Quality Solutions Could Save Your Life
Indoor air is up to 100% more polluted than outdoor air, which becomes a real concern as we close windows up for the winter. Luckily there are several solutions available to vastly improve the quality of your indoor air. Air scrubbers are a popular option. UV lamps placed in your heating system can cut down on mold and allergens significantly. Mechanical and electronic filters which replace your standard 1” filter are a great option, too. Polluted indoor air has been linked to lung, cardiovascular and allergy problems. Discuss the best solution for your family’s unique health needs with your Anthony PHC technician.
Don’t Forget the Fireplace
At some point you may decide to have a nice cozy fire in your fireplace. But before the weather gets too cold or inclement, have your fireplace, flue and chimney checked for fire and gas hazards.
Protect Against Frozen Pipes with a Plumbing Inspection
Avoid broken pipes due to frozen water caused by garden hoses left attached to outside faucets. Remove all hoses from outside faucets, drain them, and place them in storage. Or even better, replace your outside hose faucets with frost-free versions, and you will never have to worry about forgetting your hose, because they will not freeze even with the hose attached.
Before freezing temperatures settle in, take a good look at your plumbing to determine where frozen pipes might happen, and insulate them where possible. Any pipes in a wall adjacent to the outside or garage are at risk for freezing. Fall is an excellent time for a plumbing inspection and safety check. Your Anthony PHC plumber will be able to advise you on plumbing insulation tips while making sure your water heater is ready for the increased demand for hot water due to cold weather.
Natural Gas Infrared Garage Heaters Are a Great Winter Defense
One way to protect against frozen pipes is to install a natural gas infrared garage heater. Garage heaters that run on natural gas can heat your garage for pennies a day, and warm up adjacent rooms at the same time. Because they use no electricity, they are a great back up if your furnace stops working due to electricity outages caused by winter ice or windstorms.
Garage heaters are a wonderful way to extend your usable living space during the winter when the outdoor areas become unusable. They help extend the life of your vehicles, too.
Your Fall Prep Checklist
In summary, to make your transition into fall easier, perform these fall preparation tasks as soon as possible in the season:
Cooling System Prep
- Check and clean your outside air conditioner coil
- Get a cooling system tune up
- Consider purchasing a new air conditioner (with ozone friendly refrigerant) or furnace during the fall
Heating System Prep
- Check your furnace filter
- Test your CO and smoke detectors and replace the batteries
- Get a furnace tune-up and safety inspection
- Turn duct system dampers to the winter position
- Schedule a fireplace, flue and chimney inspection
- Turn the bypass air humidifier damper to the on position and turn thermostat on
- Schedule to have the humidifier cleaned and checked
Indoor Air Purification
- Install an air purification system to protect against indoor pollutants and allergens
- Remove garden hoses and consider purchase of frost-free outdoor faucets
- Insulate pipes against freezing in suspect areas
- Consider purchasing a natural gas infrared garage heater to keep pipes from freezing
Call Us Today to Schedule a Fall Prep Visit
Anthony Plumbing, Heating & Cooling has highly trained technicians and plumbers available to come to your home and answer all your questions about preparing your home for the coming fall and winter seasons. Call us any time of the night or day at A-N-T-H-O-N-Y (268-4669) KS or MO to schedule fall prep service.
Keeping your home warm is an essential part of preserving a comfortable living environment, but it can also represent many hazards such as fire, carbon monoxide poisoning and indoor air pollution.
The National Fire Protection Association reported a total of 54,030 home structure fires involving heating equipment between 2011 and 2015. Central heating units and water heaters accounted for 21 percent of those fires.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports that over 150 Americans die every year from accidental carbon monoxide (CO) poisoning that is not caused by fires. Known as a silent killer, CO has no smell or taste, so neither people nor animals can tell when they are breathing it.
Get your furnace checked for safety by a highly-trained heating specialist
It’s a smart idea to have a highly-trained heating specialist like Anthony Plumbing, Heating & Cooling perform a safety inspection on your furnace. Their technicians will do the following:
- Inspect the heat exchanger for cracks with a state of the art inspector camera.
- Test for any dangerous gas leaks such as CO.
- Test the ignition system for safe and proper operation.
- Test the safety and control circuits.
- Ensure the exhaust is venting properly.
We often run coupons for safety inspections during the winter months. Check our coupons page for our current specials.
Watch for signs of a cracked or non-functioning heat exchanger
A gas furnace’s heat exchanger is the furnace component that actually heats the air. A cracked heat exchanger is a serious safety issue, as the gases being burned off, such as carbon monoxide, sulfur dioxide, and nitrous oxide, could leak into your home, causing illness or, in extreme cases, death. Getting an annual furnace safety inspection will help spot cracks in heat exchangers. But homeowners should always keep an eye out for these warning signs of an improperly working heat exchanger:
- black carbon buildup (soot) inside or outside the furnace cabinet, a sign of incomplete combustion
- Excessive moisture in the space and on the windows (water is a byproduct of combustion)
- unpleasant odor similar to formaldehyde
- water on the floor at the base of the furnace
- flu-like symptoms experienced by family members
Clean your furnace
Like other appliances around the home, a furnace will function more safely and efficiently if it’s clean. Check the pilot light and main burners on your natural gas furnace to ensure they are burning blue. If they burn orange or yellow, contact a heating specialist to have it serviced.
You can also call a highly-trained heating specialist like Anthony Plumbing, Heating & Cooling to have your furnace thoroughly cleaned before the winter months when you’ll be using it regularly.
Install and/or check carbon monoxide detectors
Carbon monoxide (CO) is a “silent killer” because you can’t see, taste or smell it in its natural form. If it is inhaled in high concentrations or slowly over time, it can cause drowsiness, dizziness, loss of consciousness, brain damage and death.
If you have natural gas heating in your home, it’s important to install CO detectors on each floor to ensure your family’s safety. Since CO doesn’t rise like smoke does, safety experts recommend installing CO alarms at knee level, which is about the height of a sleeping person’s nose and mouth.
Also consider installing “smart” detectors that will send alerts to your phone when you are away, so your pets and elderly family members stay safe when you’re not at home.
Change your furnace filter
Clean filters allow your furnace to run more efficiently and help prevent dust from circulating through your home. If you don’t know how to change your filter, schedule a visit from a heating specialist or check for videos online that walk you through the process.
Keep area around furnace clear
Garages and closets are prone to gathering clutter, but it’s important to keep the space near your furnace clear of boxes, trash, open laundry soap, paint thinners and gasoline containers or other combustible items. Keep this up year-round, whether you regularly use your furnace or not.
Keep supply registers clean and open
While it may make sense, in theory, to close supply registers to unused rooms to save on heating bills, heating specialists suggest otherwise. A furnace needs constant, consistent airflow to function properly, or it may use up the oxygen in your home. Closed supply registers can allow water pipes to freeze even though the frozen pipe is not in the room with the closed supply register.
“It’s also possible to damage your furnace by closing too many air registers,” according to Angie’s List. “Closing off registers creates less airflow, which forces the furnace to work harder. It’s also possible that limited airflow may cause the furnace to blow air that is too hot and trip the limit safety switch in the furnace.
Replace older furnaces
Like an old car, an old furnace that requires costly repairs is signaling that it’s near the end of its useful life and needs to be replaced soon. Even if your furnace has a few years left in it, it may not be cost efficient to keep it if your energy bills during the heating season are high due to the furnace’s poor efficiency.
Newer furnaces are cleaner, operate more safely, produce less pollution, and are built to meet modern building codes. If your furnace is over 18 years old or if it is requiring frequent repairs, it may be time to replace it.
In addition, after July 3, 2019, residential furnace manufacturers must include energy-efficient electronically commutated motors (ECM’s) on their furnace fans, which are expected to save homeowners significant money on electricity bills.
ECM motors are also expected reduce carbon pollution and keep occupants more comfortable, too. First, they provide more efficient airflow. Second, they reduce temperature swings in the home by allowing the fan to run for a longer time at a reduced speed.
For more information on how to safely maintain your furnace or to determine whether it’s time to replace it, contact us today at 913-268-4669 or submit our contact form.
Carbon Monoxide Kills More Than 400 Americans a year.
It’s odorless, colorless, and dangerously lethal. Carbon monoxide (CO) is known as the silent killer because it’s so difficult to detect. More than 400 Americans die each year from unintentional carbon monoxide poisoning. Even though it’s extremely dangerous, there are still several ways you can safeguard your home and protect your family from an accidental poisoning. Anthony PHC will measure the CO level in your home during your heating tune-up.