Oh, the weather outside is frightful … oops, I still have holiday music floating around in my head. Maybe that’s because it is getting seasonably cold compared to the warm spells we had in December.
Our home heaters will be tested this week, however, with the forecast looking mighty chilly. If you’re like me, I don’t often think of these things until the weather changes.
There are a few things you as a home owner can do to improve the performance of your heating system while other things should be left to a professional heating contractor.
Here are a few things you can do yourself:
- Replace or clean your air filter in a forced hot air furnace or heat pump. This should be done about once per month during the season to prevent dust from blocking the air flow. If the filter is dirty is puts more strain on the blower which increases your electric bill. If you’re unsure as to wear the filter is ask the technician who last serviced the unit to show you. Write down the size of the filter so you can stock up on a pack of filters instead of buying them individually.
- Keep radiators, registers and baseboards clean and unblocked. You’ll want to make sure they are not blocked by furniture and remove dust frequently. It is recommended not to cover radiators.
- Bleed trapped air from radiators. When air is in your hot water system it ends up in the radiators at the top of the house, causing those to be less efficient or cold because water isn’t being heated in those radiators. Have a technician show you how to bleed the air out. There is a valve on the radiator that allows you to open it with a special key. Turn the key slightly to vent out the air. Have a bucket or cup ready to catch any water that may begin to flow. Turn valve off as soon as all the air is out and water starts to flow. Be careful. The water can be hot.
- For steam boilers, drain sediment. The sediment should be removed every 3 weeks during the winter. If you haven’t done it before, schedule a technician to service the boiler and ask him or her to show how to do it. Basically, it involves draining a bucket of water from the boiler. Sediment insulates a boiler from the burner’s flame which will cause some heat to go up the chimney instead of in your house.
If you heat with oil, have your heating system cleaned and checked once a year. If you have a gas system, once every two years is recommended for service, and with heat pumps, every two to three years.
If you take care of your heating system it will take care of you. Maintaining it will prolong its use, reduce heating bills and costly repairs, and reduce the amount of carbon monoxide, smoke, and other harmful emissions from fossil-fueled furnaces.
If you are in the market for a new home, you’ll want to ask for the history of the current owner’s heating costs over the last two winters, if possible. The real estate agent for the seller will most likely have this information available upon request. This may help you decide between homes that you’re considering to purchase.
Also, if there are different kinds of heating systems in the homes you are looking to buy, you should do a comparison to see which one is more efficient or environmentally friendly. Is there a supplemental heat source like a wood burning stove? Is the wood burning stove newer and EPA-certified or is it an older model? Whatever the system is, do your homework so you can make the most educated decision possible.
Every Wednesday at noon, the Scott Loper Team of Re/Max Realty Group in Harleysville offers some sage advice to potential and current homeowners in our area. The Scott Loper Team includes Scott Loper, Lisa Loper and Gina Wherry, Re/Max Realty Group, 439 Main Street, Harleysville, PA 19438, 215-256-1200.