Carney Plumbing Heating & Cooling Blog : Archive for the ‘Maintenance Plan/Comfort Club’ Category

Easy Do’s and Don’ts for Winterizing Your Heating and Cooling System

Wednesday, October 13th, 2010

Like it or not, winter’s coming! And we guarantee you’ll enjoy winter a whole lot more (or at least hate it a whole lot less) if your heating system is working optimally.

Getting your heating system ready for winter will make the winter cozy and fun!

Getting your heating system ready for winter will make the winter cozy and fun!

Furnace maintenance is actually very easy – much easier than dealing with a major repair. These simple “to-dos” take about half an hour to complete, and are well worth your time. You’ll save money, avoid annoying and expensive breakdowns, and help keep your family safe and comfortable all winter long.

And, our list of “don’ts” will help you avoid mistakes that can cause equipment breakdowns and endanger your loved ones.

(As a bonus, these do’s and don’ts will help your air conditioning system survive the winter in great shape so that it’s ready to go when summer returns!)

  • DO…Call for your annual service ASAP, if you haven’t yet.
  • DO…Remove flammable items that may have been stored next to the furnace over the summer (weed whackers, lawn movers, gas cans, etc).
  • DO…Change/clean your air filter regularly, especially during heavy use seasons (winter and summer). You should replace disposable fiberglass filters, and wash electrostatic or electronic filters, at least every three months, and more often if they look dirty. A dirty filter will slow down air flow and make the system work harder to keep you warm or cool (a waste of energy). A clean filter will keep dirt and dust out of your system, increasing its longevity and reducing the need for expensive repairs.
  • DO…Check your thermostat programming to make sure it reflects your family’s current schedule. This will help you reduce energy costs.
  • DO…Check your chimney to make sure there are no cracks or loose bricks.
  • DO…Remove window AC units, and cover outside AC units to minimize damage from winter weather and debris (you can buy a cover at your local hardware store).
  • DO…Install a carbon monoxide detector next to your sleeping area.
  • DON’T…Try to service your heating system on your own. Leave it to qualified professionals!
  • DON’T…Wait for the first cold night to turn on your furnace for the first time. Test your heater for a few minutes while it’s still warm out (like in early September), to make sure that it’s working well on the first cold day. Also, if it’s warm, you can comfortably open the windows to disperse that “first time” smell.
  • DON’T…Try to turn on the heat while the thermostat is still set in AC mode. Just setting the dial above room temperature won’t activate the heat if the system is still in AC mode.
  • DON’T…Cover outside AC units with plastic. Plastic traps moisture and can lead to rust and deterioration. Instead, use a cover specifically designed for outdoor AC units.
  • DON’T…Assume that because you have a carbon monoxide detector, you don’t need to schedule a furnace inspection. A carbon monoxide detector should be a second line of defense, not a substitute for annual service.
  • DON’T…turn off the heat when it’s cold out, even if you are leaving your house for several days. Set the thermostat to at least 55 degrees so that your house stays warm enough to keep your pipes from freezing.

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Why You Should Get a Fall Tune-Up
…Even If You’d Rather Not Think About It

Friday, October 8th, 2010
A Carney furnace tune-up will give you peace of mind!

A Carney furnace tune-up will give you peace of mind!

Let’s be honest here. Unless you’re an HVAC contractor, you’re probably not particularly interested in your heating system. And that may lead you to skimp on routine maintenance.

But…if you really want to think about your heating system as little as possible, then routine maintenance is exactly what you need.


Limited time offer: Gas Furnace or Heat Pump Tune-Up – only $99!!


According to a study conducted by the Louisiana Cooperative Extension Service, 9 out of 10 HVAC system failures are caused by dirt and dust. That means that if you hire a professional to clean and service your furnace, and you change your furnace’s air filter once a month, you are 90% less likely to have a breakdown this year!

This, of course, is terrific news for your budget. Not only will you save by minimizing the possibility of a major repair, you’ll also increase your heater’s efficiency, which means lower energy bills this winter.

And that means more money for that new car, the kids’ college tuition, or (just maybe) your dream vacation.

But even better than that, routine maintenance leads to peace of mind. You’ll have less hassle, less worry, and a lot more time relaxing cozily in your house, doing whatever you want to do, while your heater minds its own business in your basement.

So, now that you’re persuaded…what routine maintenance do you need?

You should get an annual tune-up/inspection every year. A good furnace tune-up will include:

  • Checking the thermostat to ensure that the settings are comfortable and energy-efficient
  • Checking all electrical connections, motors, and controls
  • Testing the pilot light and the ignition
  • Lubricating the blower bearings and blower motor as recommended by the manufacturer
  • Cleaning dust from the blower compartment
  • Inspecting gas or oil connections, gas pressure, and burner combustion
  • Inspecting the heat exchanger to make sure it’s not leaking carbon monoxide
  • Checking the pilot light if the furnace has one
  • Testing air flow
  • Checking vents, drafts, and flues
  • Checking for gas leaks
  • Checking the safety components, such as limit controls and pilot safety; and
  • Inspecting the condensate drain (if the system includes central air)

Then, there are a few simple things you should do yourself.

  • Make sure nothing flammable has been stored next to the furnace over the summer (weed whackers, lawn movers, gas cans, etc).
  • Give the outside of your furnace a good dusting (also, dust the areas near it).
  • Test your heater for a few minutes while it’s still warm out (like in early September), to make sure that it’s working well on the first cold day. Also, you can comfortably open the windows to disperse that unpleasant “first time” smell.
  • Make sure that your thermostat is set in the heating mode when heating season starts. Just setting the dial above room temperature won’t activate the heat if the system is still in AC mode.
  • Change/clean your air filter regularly, especially during heavy use seasons (winter and summer). You should replace disposable fiberglass filters, and wash electrostatic or electronic filters, at least every three months, and more often if they look dirty. A dirty filter will slow down air flow and make the system work harder to keep you warm or cool (a waste of energy). A clean filter will keep dirt and dust out of your system, increasing its longevity and reducing the need for expensive repairs.
  • Install a carbon monoxide (CO) detector near your bedroom, and test it monthly. (Tip: do this whenever you change your air filter. And replace the batteries each year when you test your heater.) Please note that a CO detector should be a second line of defense, not a substitute for an annual furnace inspection.

Everything on the list above should take you about half an hour a year, in total. That’s a pretty minimal amount of time in exchange for months and months of worry-free operation!

PS. Everyone is suddenly interested in their heating system if it’s the first cold night and their furnace doesn’t work. This is not the time to schedule a tune-up. Do it now and beat the rush!

Call Carney at 215-346-7160 or contact us online to schedule an appointment.

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