Yes, it is important to get your heating system serviced before the winter. The purpose of a heating system service is to keep your heating system up and running all season long, with no surprise breakdowns, while allowing it to operate at optimum efficiency.
At the start of the heating season, your system should be cycled and checked to make sure its operating safely. Like cars, heating systems require routine maintenance to keep them running longer.
Routine maintenance will provide lower energy costs and longer equipment life. A neglected system slowly loses its ability to keep your home comfortable at the same level of efficiency it once did. Routine maintenance will also ensure fewer repairs.
Most importantly, a complete checkup of your system will provide you peace of mind in knowing that your heating equipment is operating safely. Faulty electrical wiring, a blockage in your flue piping, or a crack in your heat exchanger can be dangerous to the health and safety of your family.
A prescheduled preventive maintenance call will provide you the best value for the money. During this visit, a technician will check all mechanical and electrical components of your heating system, and will identify any issues. By preventing future repairs, your annual maintenance will pay for itself. Furthermore, who wants to be without heat for even a few hours during the winter? Preventive maintenance will help avoid breakdowns.
There are a few maintenance items that can be performed by homeowners, however, many of the tasks will require the assistance of a professional.
Homeowners can replace air filters in their forced air heating system. Just be sure to use filters that are properly fitted for the space they occupy. A filter that is too small will allow dust and dirt particles to pass through into the heating system. A filter that is too large won't fit and if you jam it in, it can obstruct air flow, causing inefficiency and potential breakdowns.
Filters should be changed every month or two, depending on how dirty they get. Standard replacement filters cost a few dollars each, while higher efficiency filters can cost around twenty dollars. It is important to keep up on filter replacements to allow your system to operate at maximum efficiency.
If you have a programmable thermostat, check the settings and schedule to make sure you are comfortable with the time and temperatures you have preset. Since you last used your heating system your schedule may have changed, or your comfort level may have adjusted. You should also get into the habit of changing your thermostat battery once a year to ensure your thermostat operates without interruption.
Inspect and clean the grills and registers, or if you have a hot water system with baseboard radiators, check to make sure they are clear from obstruction. Make sure to remove all dust or debris on or around them so that the full output of your heating system can be felt.
It is important to get a professional involved when it comes to the electrical and burner sections of your heating system. A thorough tune up will require skills, tools and knowledge that only an experience service technician can provide.
Your service technician will check and tighten electrical connections, check the sequence of operation, check and clean the blower section, check gas connections, burner combustion and the heat exchanger. This service should also include a check to make sure there is no carbon monoxide being emitted from your heating system during operation.
The added value of a heating system maintenance call, is that you have a professional in front of you that can make recommendations on how to improve your system operation, should you have any concerns. Leaks in your ductwork can cause added inefficiencies and will reduce your comfort.
The heating season is fast approaching. The best time to have a professional visit your home to service your heating equipment is now. The later it gets in the season, the more difficult it is to get an appointment and the more it will cost you. Look for pre-season discounts to provide the most bang for your buck.
As with any home improvement or home service, make sure your service provider is licensed and insured. Homeowners are protected by the NYC Department of Consumer Affairs when using a local, licensed contractor, so it is important to ask for their license information and check the references they have provided.
Jim Hall, President – Jim Hall HVAC