With the proper attention, heating and cooling systems can keep you comfortable year-round. Heat pumps, oil-fired furnaces need a yearly safety & efficiency tune-up. A close inspection will uncover leaks, soot, rust, rot, corroded electrical contacts and frayed wires. In furnace (forced-air) systems, the inspection should also cover the chimney, ductwork or pipes, dampers, blower or, registers the fuel line and the gas meter or oil tank — as well as every part of the furnace itself.
Next, the system should be run through a full heating cycle to ensure that it has plenty of combustion air and chimney draft. Finally, cleaning the burner and heat exchanger to remove soot and other gunk will prevent such buildup from impeding smooth operation. For the burner, efficiency hinges on adjusting the flame to the right size and color, adjusting the flow of gas or changing the fuel filter in an oil-fired system.
A check of the heat pump should include an inspection of the compressor, fan, indoor and outdoor coils and refrigerant lines. Indoor and outdoor coils should be cleaned, and the refrigerant pressure should be checked. Major equipment manufacturers require at a minimum a yearly Tune Up agreement.
Tuning up the distribution side of a forced-air system starts with the blower. Blades should be cleaned and blower motor checked to insure the unit isn’t being overloaded. Every accessible joint in the ductwork should be sealed with mastic or UL-approved duct tapes. Any ducts that run outside the heated space should be insulated.
While thermostats rarely fail outright, they can degrade over time as mechanical parts stick or lose their calibration. Older units will send faulty signals if they’ve been knocked out of level or have dirty switches.. Modern electronic thermostats, sealed at the factory to keep out dust and grime, rarely need adjusting.
Most houses with forced-air furnaces have a standard furnace filter made from loosely woven spun-glass fibers designed to keep it and its ductwork clean. Unfortunately, they don’t improve indoor air quality. That takes a media filter, which sits in between the main return duct and the blower cabinet. Made of a deeply pleated, paper-like material, media filters are at least seven times better than a standard filter at removing dust and other particles.
An upgrade to a pleated media filter will cleanse the air of everything from insecticide dust to flu viruses. Compressed, media filters are usually no wider than six inches, but the pleated material can cover up to 75 square feet when stretched out. This increased area of filtration accounts for the filter’s long life, which can exceed two years.
The only drawback to a media filter is its tight weave, which can restrict a furnace’s ability to blow air through the house. To insure a steady, strong airflow through the house, choose a filter that matches your blower’s capacity.