# 10) Not replacing batteries:
This first one is kind of a lay-up. Let’s begin with it before we delve further into scary potential issues of HVAC equipment. Here I am referring to power to the thermostat. Most of them out there today are some form of digital and programmable styles which have illuminated screens displaying information such as mode, time and temperature. The display might be hooked up by “C” (common wire) directly to your furnace. Other thermostats require two AA batteries. If battery operated, some units signal when power is low, others do not. If you cannot remember the last time you have changed batteries, go ahead and do it now.
# 9) Power outages:
As we move through the seasons we are up against constant weather changes. In short time we are often transitioning from nasty thunderstorms to potential deep freezes. That can mean unwelcome power outages. During those events we needn’t worry if we are lucky enough to have “on demand” stand-by power from a backup generator. If not, there are a few things to keep in mind. Don’t use propane or gas powered space heaters indoors. Do not heat your house with your oven. If you do make a fire in your fireplace, ensure the flue is drafting properly. Go a step further and crack open a window ever so slightly near the fireplace to help with the drafting if yours does not have its own fresh air vent. After the return of primary power, if you’re still experiencing problems, check that no circuit breakers were tripped by the restoration surges which often occur.
# 8) Humidity levels:
Low humidity levels during extreme weather are not only bad for your wood floors and furniture, but for your overall health as well. The dry air can cause irritated noses, sinuses, sore throats and those annoying static shocks. It is important to introduce humidity to our indoor environment as heating space sucks humidity right out of the air. Thanks to advancements in humidifiers there are solutions to virtually every individual situation. To add humidity to your environment, just ask us!
If you already have humidifier(s) here are a few quick tips. Make sure you have a new pad installed (with well or hard water, maybe twice per heating season) and that water feed lines and drains are clear. Start by setting your unit’s dial to 35%. You may have to adjust up or down as the winter rolls along. For example: if you start to see water build up on the bottom inside of your windows, turn the humidifier down a bit.
# 7) Poor indoor air quality issues:
Believe it or not, we are not far off from buttoning down the hatches – trying to keep out the bitter cold air. The fix to do so will haunt us when we’ve made our indoor environment five times more polluted than outside. Seriously. It is time to let that sink in so that you can do what is needed to combat this problem.
Let’s look at the “fix-it” basics. First and foremost, ensure you maintain clean filtration systems. Be sure you are not venting bath fans and clothes dryers INSIDE your space; especially into attics and crawl spaces as they are ideal environments for mold to grow and thrive. Last but not least, try to seal off holes and cracks into those spaces – such breaches not only allow energy loss, but enable the entry of water. As always, we are happy to help you decide the best filtration options for your environment. We hate mold!
# 6) Extreme Temperatures:
Sorry. But once again, I’m mentioning impending cold air. According to the Farmer’s Almanac, our area is in store for being smack dab in the middle of the Jet stream. Unfortunately, this means snow and frigid cold. Extended heating use and more demand on your HVAC equipment will be required. You’re really going to need to enter this heating season having your system checked out and serviced. The small, upfront investment will not only pay for itself, but can help you save money and prevent potential disasters. Those always seem to come at the most inopportune time.
# 5) Higher operational costs:
While not TRYING to keep harping on the negative, I do know that natural gas prices are NOT predicted to be on the decline. In fact, as we turn into heating season, natural gas prices will be on their way up. These higher costs are further exacerbated by equipment that is not operating in proper tune. That includes not burning gas efficiently, parts working harder than they need to, or airflow issues causing equipment problems. All of these things can be evaluated – and cost savings implemented – during your performance based evaluation. Questions? Just ask our technician.
# 4) Not inspecting flue pipes and chimneys:
You can’t assume your chimneys and flue pipes are inspected during routine maintenance as only 1% of HVAC contractors out there do this. Yes, the one percent figure is correct. The other 99% are willing to make sure your furnace works, but NOT that it is exhausting dangerous fumes from your home.
This exact scenario played out for us last year. We got a call that a homeowner’s furnace would not STAY on. Their furnace was maintained, but when this problem presented shortly afterwards, they were unable to get the contractor back for follow up service and decided to give us a try. After checking the usual causes for the interruption of heat, Paul found the system was not drafting properly. Because all of our technicians inspect the flue pipes, he found that the problem was a bird’s nest which had been built up there. (See the picture below of what Paul discovered during the course of his normal flue venting inspection). No one will know how long it was there – just be aware that birds LIKE nice, warm places to build their homes and unless someone is looking……..well…. the situation had the potential of GOING UNDETECTED. And if it had, it could have caused some very serious, even fatal, consequences for that home’s occupants.
# 3) Skipping a Combustion Optimization:
Unfortunately, this step will haunt you and be just as dangerous as #4. A combustion optimization test allows us to unleash the full potential of your equipment and complete system’s efficient performance. However, again, it is only performed by 1% of contractors in the industry. Why is that? Quite frankly, I assume because this test is not mandatory, requires competence, and a fairly expensive meter! At Corcoran Heating and Air Conditioning – one of the 1% – the safety of those who depend on us (and pay us for) maintaining and servicing their equipment comes first. Therefore, once we learned how important combustion optimization was, it became mandatory for us that all of our techs got certified to perform testing of it. It is our obligation to ensure we give you every advantage we can in keeping you safe and not wasting your money. We want you to have confidence in your equipment and its performance for as long as possible.
If you are using us for maintenance or have a service need this upcoming season, do not worry. We pledge to perform each and every crucial step on each and every visit. If you would like more information about this SPECIFIC test, or just want to watch it being performed, just ask!
# 2) Skipping a performance based system check-up:
Sorry, I am sorry to continue to harp on this point. Not. It’s simply too crucial to ignore. Our comprehensive annual visit ensures your equipment will operate safely, efficiently all winter long. There are too many steps and variables to list here. If you would like more information about specifics or wish to download a pdf version, check out http://corcoranheating.com/services/maintenance-programs/.
# 1) Neglecting to change or maintain your filtration system:
Ignoring this super simple step is the Number One reason for needing a service call, and the primary reason for shortening your equipment’s life. It is sad when something which costs little to attend to can cause so much in expense and frustration. Be sure to understand what type of filter you have to buy and how often to replace it.
Basic Filter Maintenance Guide:
- 1” Fiberglass filters should be changed every 30-60 days depending on the number of pets and amount of hardwood you have in your home.
- 5” Media and Spacegaurd filters should be replaced every 3-6 months, again depending on the same variables.
- Electronic air cleaners should be cleaned every 1-3 months for best cell operation and overall system life.
Be sure to find out from the technician which of the above you have, and have him reiterate how often you need to maintain it.