Fire Up the Furnace and Winterize Your Home
Fall is quickly approaching and the temperatures are starting to drop. Okay – so they have dropped drastically already. We can only hope that some warmer days may still be around the corner. Have you wanted to fire up the furnace? The mild-weather changeover time is often one of the best times of the year to save on our utility costs. Throw on a comfy sweater if you have to. Don’t immediately go to your thermostat and turn on the heat. You can make the most out of these weeks. If you can be comfortable in your home without the AC or the heat, you may just get the lowest utility bill of the year!
Sooner or later, of course, you will need to finally fire up the furnace. If you have already had your furnace professionally tuned up for the season, you probably won’t have any problems flipping the switch for the first time this fall. But if no one has touched the furnace since the spring thaw, you may need to make some basic preparations before your first heating cycle of the season.
First Time’s a Charm
After months of inactivity, your furnace does what everything else in your home does. It collects dust! Even when the cooler weather arrives and you use your air conditioner less and less, dust may even accumulate inside your ducts and vents. This typically goes unnoticed until the first time the furnace warms up. You will quickly notice that this is the point when all those dust particles turn to toast. We have all smelt the burnt dust smell when turning on a small home heater or perhaps when we went to fire up the furnace.
Burning dust is harmless at the start of each heating season. If you are bothered by the odor, you can be prepared by opening the windows and doors. Do this right before you activate your furnace for the first cycle of the fall. With good air circulation in your home, the odor will come and go in a matter of just a few minutes. If the burnt smell lingers for hours, long after a year’s worth of dust should have burned away, it’s time to call your local HVAC technician for a professional inspection and tune up.
Tips for Home Owners
Here are a few other things you can take a look at if you have not had a tune-up on your furnace:
Change the filter: After a few weeks of minimal HVAC activity, it is easy to forget to change the filter. Start the heating season off right by replacing the filter – even if you don’t think it is that dirty.
Clear the furnace area: If your furnace is located in a storage area of your home, take notice of the area around it. Watch for items that you may have moved around during the last season. Any flammable materials left propped against the furnace pose a potential fire hazard.
Test your thermostat: Even if your thermostat worked fine in cooling mode, it is worth double-checking its accuracy in heating mode. It is a good idea to take a digital thermometer from room to room. Make sure your home is heating accurately and evenly before you fire up the furnace.
Winter – It is Coming
After you fire up the furnace, there are additional items to consider. Once your furnace is warmed up, serviced and ready for the season ahead, you can continue to make preparations around your home for colder temperatures. Here are a few of the most important home winterization steps you can take:
Check and replace weather stripping: There should be a form of weather stripping on every window and exterior door of your home. But over time and the elements can take a toll, and weather stripping may peel or become cracked. If you find damaged weather stripping, it is very important to have it replaced. This should be done before it turns into a chilly draft coming into your home. If the weather stripping is not replaced, you could add extra unnecessary heating expenses.
Have your chimney inspected and cleaned: If you happen to have a functional wood burning fireplace, complete this service before building your first fire. Starting a fire in a wood burning fireplace without it being properly cleaned could lead to very dangerous chimney fires.
Trim your trees: Take a look around at all the trees on your property. Pay special attention to trees and tree limbs. Anything that could fall onto power lines or through windows on the house if they were to suddenly break. If you live in an area that experiences ice storms, the added weight of ice buildup could very well bring those limbs down. It would be a rude awakening to wake up by the crashing of an ice covered tree limb.
Always Be Prepared
Prepare a home emergency kit: Winter snow storms can develop suddenly. Severe storms could leave you without power and heat for hours or even days. Store at least a four day supply of fresh water and non-perishable food. It is a good idea to have ready some flashlights, batteries, and a crank radio. Having a few warm blankets and some basic medical supplies is also a great idea. If you have a generator, remember to keep it maintained and ready in any circumstance.
Test your carbon monoxide detectors: Cracked furnace heat exchangers are among the most common causes of carbon monoxide leaks. During the heating season, make sure you have at least one carbon monoxide detector for each floor of your home. Also make sure to test those detectors monthly.
Winterizing your home can save you money all winter long while keeping your living space safe and comfortable. If you need any assistance getting your home ready for the heating season, or if you are over-due for a furnace tune-up, contact your local HVAC company today. You don’t want to be the neighbour that is on the waiting list while freezing in your own home!