Proper maintenance of your furnace will save you money on your heating bills and repairs. You don’t always need to call in a professional to make sure your furnace is running smooth. Here is a list of things you can do now to make sure your furnace isn’t costing you extra money this winter.
- Change the filter. If you have a dirty filter your airflow is reduced. This causes your furnace to work harder to heat your home and costs you extra money. Filters should be checked every month. If you are using 30 day filters they should be changed every month. If you are using 90 day filters check them each month and change them if there is dirt build up regardless of the time in use.
- Don’t block vents. Blocking your vents reduces the airflow in a room. If you put a rug or a couch over a floor vent you are disrupting the design of the system. You will get reduced airflow in the room with the blocked vent and extra air flow in other rooms. If this is happening, you may notice that some rooms are colder than others.
- Clean the vents. Take the vent cover off and vacuum out the vent. Getting the dirt and dust out will prevent it from blowing around your home and keep it out of your filter.
- Control your home’s humidity. Humidity plays an important part in your home comfort. Check your humidity level and raise or lower it as needed.
- Check your thermostat. Make sure your thermostat is set to a comfortable level. If you have a programmable thermostat make sure it is programed to lower the temperature automatically during the times no one is at home. Also, you can lower the temperature while you sleep to save more money on your energy bills and reduce the load on your furnace.
- Clean in and around the furnace. Before you do this turn your furnace off. Open the access panels and vacuum the inside of your furnace. While you are doing that make sure the area around your furnace is also clean. Reducing the amount of dirt and dust in your system will extend the life of your furnace and filter.
- Check the blower motor. Before you do this turn your furnace off. Open the access panel and look at the blower motor. Make sure it is firmly in place. Check the belt to make sure it is not frayed or breaking. Make sure the belt is tight. If the blower motor is not operating at peak performance, you are not getting the maximum air flow from your system.
- Check the flue. If you have a gas or oil furnace, check the flue to make sure it is venting properly. If the flue is blocked it will cause a pressure build up and it will leak the exhaust fumes into your home.
- Check the pilot light. If you have a gas furnace check your pilot light. If your pilot light goes out, you will not be able to heat your home. There should be instructions on your system detailing how to re-light it.
- Change the oil filter. If you have an oil furnace, make sure you change the oil filter. If your filter becomes clogged it will reduce, or stop, the flow of oil to your furnace. Change your filter at the beginning of the heating season and again about mid-way through.
These DIY tips will help you have a more comfortable winter without having to worry about your furnace breaking. Benjamin Franklin said it best, “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure”.
According to the Environmental Protection Agency, or EPA, indoor air pollution is among the top five environmental health risks. While there are a variety of ways to combat this health risk, in this article we will be focusing on mechanical filtration, otherwise known as air filters. Let’s get started!
Not all air filters are created equal. When you go to the store and look at the air filters it can be a little overwhelming. There are cheap ones that look like they will break just by touching them. There are slightly more expensive ones that tell you they last for three months. Then there are even more expensive ones that tell you they are the best filter ever created and they will last years. Picking the right one is a little tricky.
So, how are filters rated? There is a thing called the minimum efficiency reporting value, or MERV, rating. This is a rating assigned by the American Society of Heating Refrigeration and Air Conditioning Engineers, or ASHRAE. ASHRAE created the MERV rating and each filter type gets a number from 1 – 20. 1 being the least protective and 20 being the most protective. The MERV rating is displayed on many filters or their packaging, but not on all. The chart below is the MERV rating scale and where different filters fit into it.
Let’s start by talking about the cheap filters. They have a MERV rating of 1 – 4. They are cheap, flimsy, and must be replaced often. They are there to protect your heating and air conditioning system. They are not focused on cleaning your home’s air. They offer minimal air resistance and only filter larger particles. It’s not bad to use these filters but don’t expect them to improve your indoor air quality.
Next we will move on to the moderately more expensive filters. They have a MERV rating of 5 – 8. These filters will provide better air cleaning and will filter out some of the harmful pollutants. This is the level that will start to filter out mold and pet dander. Some of these say they only need changed every three months but that isn’t always true. We will discuss that later.
As we move up the MERV rating list we get to the 9 – 12 rated filters. These are going to filter out fine particles. This is the level of filtration that hospital laboratories use. You probably don’t need to go higher than this for home air filtration.
Next up we have the filters rated from 13 – 16. These filters are the ones used in hospital patient care and general surgery. They will filter out all bacteria and more.
Finally, we have the 17 – 20 rated filters. These are better known as high-efficiency particulate air, or HEPA filters, and ultra-low penetration air, or ULPA filters. These are the top of the line filters. When it comes to mechanical air filters, these are the best.
Now that we know what types are available, let’s talk about how to choose one. The correct air filter choice depends on a variety of factors. There is no one size fits all when it comes to selecting your air filter. Things like, do you smoke, have pets, age of your house, type of HVAC system, and more come into play.
A general rule is, the more it filters, the more air flow is reduced. Your HVAC system circulates air throughout your home. It heats or cools the air as it does that. If you put a HEPA filter in your system, it will restrict the air flow. It will cause your system to work harder to heat or cool your home. This will reduce the life of your system, cause mechanical problems, and increase your energy bills. On the other hand, if you use the filter with the lowest MERV rating you will protect your HVAC system but you will not be cleaning your home’s air.
Here’s what we recommend as a starting place for choosing your air filter:
- The EPA says that a MERV rating of 7 – 13 is likely to be as effective as true HEPA filters.
- Make sure you check your HVAC documentation to see what filters are recommended by the manufacturer.
- If you open your windows a lot to ventilate your home, you probably don’t need to clean your air as much, so you can go with one of the lower rated filters.
- If you have pets, you will want to start at the 5 – 8 range because they will filter out pet dander.
- The 9 – 12 MERV rating range is considered superior residential filtration by ASHRAE. If you have asthma or allergies this might be the range for you.
Keep in mind that your HVAC filter might not be the solution to your indoor air quality concerns. Contact an HVAC contractor, like Boss Heating and Air, that offers indoor air quality evaluations. They will come out and evaluate your home’s air quality and discuss options with you. You might want to install a whole house air filtration system. We will discuss those and other air cleaning systems in another article.
Now we are going to move on to changing your filter. If you don’t change your filter it is restricting the air flow and causing your furnace or air conditioner to work harder. You should check your filter monthly. That means you should take it out and inspect it for damage or dirt buildup. If it is a cheap filter you should replace it monthly. If it is a “three month” or a “twelve month” filter you should inspect it to make sure it is not clogged. If you can see a buildup of dust, dirt, and dander on it, you should replace it. If your home is dusty or if you have pets you will have to change your filter more frequently.
With the proper air filter selection, inspections, and replacement your home’s air will be cleaner and healthier and your HVAC system will run more efficiently. This will keep you and your family safe and comfortable, and save you money.
If you are remodeling your home, it is probably to increase the value and comfort. Remodeling your home is a big project. Whether you are upgrading one room or moving walls it’s important that you don’t forget about your HVAC system.
If your heating and air conditioning system was installed properly it was customized for your home. A company should have come out and looked at your home, took measurements, and then designed the duct work and vents to provide optimal airflow to each area of your house. By doing this you should be able to maintain a consistent temperature thought your home.
Because your HVAC system is customized for your house’s floorplan, you may need to change some vent locations during a remodel.
If you are only remodeling one room, your HVAC system most likely will not be affected. You may need to move a vent from one area of the room to another to accommodate your plans or you can leave it in place and work around it. If you are going to relocate a vent in a single room remodel, make sure you consult with a heating and air conditioning company. They will make sure it is done properly without losing efficiency.
If you are removing or moving walls in your home, you will definitely want an expert to come out and evaluate your plans. A good HVAC company will come to your home to look at your current set up and your desired floor plans and give you a recommendation for free.
You will most likely not need to replace your entire furnace or air conditioner. You might have to move some ducts or vents to maintain optimum efficiency. This can be done at a relatively low cost and fairly quickly.
If you choose to move walls and not change your HVAC system. This will result in some rooms being warmer or cooler than others. It could make your system work harder to maintain a consistent temperature. If this happens it will cause more wear and tear on your HVAC system and your maintenance and energy bills will increase.
Another thing to consider when building walls is the proximity to your furnace and air handler. If you build a wall that blocks the access panels to your HVAC system it will increase the cost of maintenance and repairs. When your system breaks an HVAC company will have to remove the wall to gain access and then replace it when they are done. The technician will remove the wall but they will most likely hire a contractor to replace it. This cost will fall on you, the homeowner.
If you want to build a wall near your furnace or air handler, make sure there is enough clearance to not only remove the access panels, but to get in and work on the unit also. There are many ways to make your unit accessible and still hidden. Work with your contractor for options.
If you are ever unsure about how your remodeling will affect your HVAC system call a professional. Make sure you ask them if they will come out and evaluate your new floor plan or room free of charge. If they say no, call someone else.
It is better to take a little extra time to get an evaluation than to lose efficiency or cause harm to your system.
When you have a problem with your furnace, you want it fixed and you want it fixed quickly. This is especially true during the cold season. These common questions and answers can help you identify the problem with your furnace and even a likely solution to the problem.
Why Does My Furnace Blow Cold Air?
A furnace can blow cold air for a couple of different reasons. The most common reason is that the fan is switched to “on” at the thermostat. When this is true, your fan will run whether your heat is on or not. This is the first thing that an HVAC technician will look for. Another common reason for your furnace to blow cold air is, your pilot light could be turned off.
Check to make sure the fan is turned off if your heater isn’t on. If the heater is on, ensure that the pilot light is turned on. Your thermostat cannot heat up if there is no pilot light. And lastly, check your air filter. If an air filter is clogged or too old it could be causing the hot air to have trouble blowing through. This results in decreased air flow and less heat making out of the vents. Simply clean the air filter or replace it depending on your model of furnace and the condition of the filter.
An HVAC professional can help diagnose the problem if you can’t solve it yourself.
Why Does My Furnace Keep Blowing Fuses?
The most common reason for a fuse to blow is that too much of a strain is put on the electrical system. Only so much electrical load can be on a single fuse. A faulty transformer can also cause a fuse to blow. In some cases, an incorrect fuse has been installed and a fuse that is not rated for a furnace will blow. Loose wires, malfunctioning wires, or damaged wires can cause shorts in the electrical system and thus cause blown fuses.
The first thing that you can do is check the fuse and compare it to the fuse that the manufacturer recommends. Ensure that the right fuse is installed. If the fuse is once again blown, it is time to move on to the next step.
An electrician and/or HVAC technician should be called if the fuse blows again. This is because electric systems can be dangerous to work on without the proper training. Not just for your house either, surges can be sent through the electrical system and cause fires at other locations. Fires, shock, or damage can be caused by improper use of the system.
Either specialist will start by looking at the fuse to ensure it is installed properly then make sure it is the proper fuse. After that they will inspect the wiring, inspecting the wiring can be time-consuming and potentially messy depending on the setup of your furnace.
Why Does My Furnace Start And Stop?
Frequent starting and stopping of your furnace is also referred to as short cycling. It isn’t an uncommon problem to have but it also isn’t the easiest to diagnose. Start by counting how many times your furnace restarts in 60 minutes. If it restarts any more than 6 times then it is time to start looking for the problem as the average furnace does not restart more than 6 times in an hour. Short cycling can cause damage to your furnace and raise your electrical bills so finding the cause should be important.
The most common cause of short cycling is a dirty air filter. This can be fixed by simply cleaning your air filter or replacing it, depending on the style of your furnace. Your thermostat could also be the cause of your short cycling problem. Take a look at your furnace’s thermostat and check each setting. If something isn’t working right, or you are unsure, call a HVAC technician.
Why Does My Furnace Smell Like Something Is Burning?
Smelling like something is burning in your furnace is a common issue that many people encounter at the start of the cold season. This is common because dust builds up on various parts of the system and when heated, that dust burns like anything else that may get caught in a furnace. Dust that causes a burning smell should go away after a few hours.
Should the smell persist your next step should be to check the air filter of your furnace. Air filters can be a cause of a variety of different problems with your furnace. If the air filter is clogged, has something stuck in it, or is obstructed, it can cause a burning smell. Replacing or cleaning your air filter will help to get rid of a smell caused by this.
After you have tried checking the air filter, if the smell persists for more than a few hours, you should call an HVAC technician and shut off your furnace. This could be a sign that something is not functioning properly inside the furnace or that something has gotten inside the furnace. You don’t want anything inside your furnace to catch on fire. It could also indicate a blockage on the furnace’s chimney which can also cause issues for you and your house.
Why Does My Furnace Pilot Light Go Out?
There are a variety of reasons your pilot light might go out. It all depends on your specific circumstances and the furnace that you have. We will explore some of the various options out there.
For older furnaces, if you turn the heat all the way off (or passed off depending on the unit) you are also cutting off the amount of gas that is used to keep the pilot light on. Instead of turning the knob all the way to off, read the manual for the recommended position to leave the knob at.
Thermocouples are the devices that are used to control the pilot light. If this device becomes dirty it can cause the pilot light to have sporadic outages. When the pilot is out you can clean the thermocouple. The same thing can happen if this device is damaged. It is easy to replace at home and you can buy one relatively cheap at the hardware store.
The line to a pilot light can become damaged or obstructed, resulting in reduced flow to the light. If this is the case, you should have an HVAC technician come out to work on the line. These lines contain gas which can be flammable and dangerous.
Why Does My Furnace Make Noise?
When your furnace initially turns on it may make some noise due to the fact the temperature in the ducts is changing. This noise should only be brief and it shouldn’t be too alarming of a sound. If the noise goes on longer, it could be a sign that your vents are clogged or closed. It can also mean that the ducts aren’t appropriate for your size of house or furnace system. Make sure that the air filter is cleaned and vents are opened before calling an HVAC technician as those steps are quick and easy and can save you some money.
However, this is not the same as a loud bang or pop when your furnace turns on. If you hear loud pops it could be a sign that the burners have dirt or other debris blocking them and causing a buildup of gas before lighting. A buildup of gas can be dangerous and can even result in small explosions.
Scraping, squealing, or whining noises can be a sign that something is wrong with the blower or the blower belt. While these noises might not sound extremely serious, they are because they can herald the complete breakdown of your furnace. You want to turn the furnace off when you hear such noises and contact an HVAC technician.
Furnaces are complicated pieces of machinery. A lot of work goes into the running of their systems. While there are many quick fixes, most common being to change/clean the air filter, there is a lot of more difficult fixes that should be left to the professionals. The last thing you want is your furnace or house being damaged. If you have any questions please feel free to ask in the comments down below.
Here is the latest and greatest exciting news from Boss Heating and Air Conditioning Inc. Our website upgrades have been completed and they are now live on the web for the world to see. We are proud to say that our web designer Wendy, owner and operator of Net Designs, did an amazing job with the site. With her assistance, we have completely revamped the site. We have a new layout and content. There is so much stuff to talk about I’m not sure where to begin.
Let’s start with our Services section. We have included a section that talks about the services we offer in depth. This section gives you a chance to find out what we can do to help you meet your heating, ventilation, and air conditioning needs. It allows you to do this at your convenience. If you want to read about our heating services while you are waiting for your doctor’s appointment, you can do that. If you wake up in the middle of the night sweating and want to find out what air conditioning services we have, you can do that too. Our goal with this section is to get as much information about our services to you as possible. This will allow you to have more information when you are looking for an HVAC contractor.
The next section we want to talk about is our Products section. Boss Heating & Air proudly sells American Standard products. Combining their high-quality products with our years of experience is a home run. I know that sounded a little sale pitchy. Don’t worry, that’s the last of that. We added in the products section so you can do a little research and see what you might be interested in. We know most of you will do some research prior to purchasing your next furnace, heat pump, air conditioner, etc. We want to help you do that research so you can make a well-informed decision. You shouldn’t have to rely on a sales representative as your sole source of information.
Another great section we added is our Portfolio. We will keep updating our portfolio page with our completed projects. We have an area for residential and another one for commercial. We want you to see the quality of our work before you even contact us. We are proud of the work we have done and are excited about the work we will do. We want to share that with everyone.
The final updated section is probably the most exciting. It’s the Boss Comfort Zone. What is the Boss Comfort Zone you ask? Well it’s a place for you to go to learn various things about your home comfort. We have years of knowledge and experience that we want to share with you. Here we will post articles about various topics that will hopefully help you make decisions about your HVAC system upgrades or help you maintain your unit to get the most out of it. We will write articles that cover things like the buying process, seasonal system checks, why you should change your filters (that is important, please change them), the importance of humidity control, and whatever else you want to know about. This knowledge that we are passing on to you will help you maximize your home’s comfort without having to rely on a professional.
I will wrap this up by saying our new website is for you. We want you to get everything you want or need from it. We also want your feedback. If you want a specific topic written about in the Comfort Zone, let us know. If you want more clarification on some of our services, let us know. If you don’t like the website font, let us know (we probably won’t change it). If you just want to say hi, drop us a line and we will be happy to hear from you. We firmly believe that the customers are the most important part of our company and we want to help make your HVAC buying or repair experience as smooth as possible weather you choose Boss Heating and Air or someone else.