Heating Systems Maintenance

Furnace

There are several types of heating systems used throughout the country. The most common is the gas, forced air furnace, which will be discussed below.

The heat exchanger is the most critical part of the furnace. It separates the air in the house from the flames and exhaust gases that are generated in the furnace. A heat exchanger can fail in one of two ways: 1) it rusts through, or 2) it cracks.

The result of either condition is the products of combustion may escape into the air in your home. A crack or hole in the heat exchanger is usually not visible and typically can only be identified by a heating and cooling specialist.

Heat exchangers have an average life expectancy of fifteen to twenty five years. The cost of replacing a heat exchanger is almost as much as replacing the entire furnace. Typically, in most cases, the entire furnace is replaced.

Recommended Maintenance

Performing maintenance on a regular basis may increase the life span and help maintain the efficiency of your furnace.

  • Check for signs of corrosion, especially around flue pipes, humidifiers, and air conditioning coils.
  • Consider an annual cleaning and service call from a qualified technician.

Filters

Conventional: There are several types of conventional air filters and each performs the same function – filtering the air before it travels into the furnace and out of the registers. Some are disposable while others you can clean. Most are rectangular and about 1” thick. Some manufacturers use a basket type filter that hangs in the blower compartment. Conventional filters are inexpensive and usually easy to replace.

  • Be sure to check, replace or clean filters monthly.

Be sure to turn the power off to the filter and the furnace fan prior to servicing.
Follow all manufacturers recommendations carefully.

Electronic: Electronic filters clean the air to a much greater extent than conventional filters. They help to remove pollen and cigarette smoke particles. The units have a mechanical filter to help remove larger debris. The smaller particles that pass through the filter are electrically charged and collected on plates of opposite polarity. If you hear an intermittent sparking or popping noise the unit is functioning properly.

Electronic filters tend to become dirty quickly due to their efficiency

Recommended Maintenance
  • Filters should be checked or cleaned at least once a month.

Humidifiers

A humidifier is generally an inexpensive device added to a forced air system. It raises the humidity levels within a home during the heating season. If too much humidity is added, condensation may form on cool surfaces such as windows. In extreme weather conditions, condensation may form in wall and ceiling cavities.

The two most common types of humidifiers are the drum and cascade types.

DRUM TYPE: This type of humidifier has a drum that is wrapped with a replaceable pad. The drum is turned in a tray of water by an electric motor. The pad soaks up the water releasing humidity into the air supply. There are a few common problems with this type of humidifier: 1) the water level may require occasional adjustment, 2) water deposits can clog the automatic fill valve causing it to overflow, and 3) the pad itself can become clogged with mineral deposits, seizing the drum and burning out the motor.

The water supply connection is a common point of leakage. Replacement parts are generally inexpensive.

Recommended Maintenance
  • Inspect the pad on a regular basis and change as necessary.
  • Clean mineral deposits from water holding tank and float.
  • Follow manufacturer recommendations when switching from heating to cooling modes.

CASCADE TYPE: Cascade type humidifiers allow water to fall over a special pad. The excess water that is not evaporated is collected and diverted to a drain. This unit is usually of high quality.

Recommended Maintenance
  • Clean or change pads regularly.
  • Follow manufacturer recommendations when switching from heating to cooling modes.
 

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