What to Know About Heating Your Home This Winter

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Many older homes rely on a boiler heating system — different from the purpose of water heaters! — instead of a furnace or a heat pump. If your boiler is fairly old, however, you may need to have some boiler work done, to make sure that everything continues to run smoothly, especially as cold weather draws near. Even if you have a newer heating system, experts recommend that you get everything checked out before the cold season hits. According to some HVAC experts, up to three-quarters of the no-heat calls they get in the winter are because the system wasn’t properly maintained. Don’t let your home be one of them! Here’s what you need to know about boiler work and maintaining your furnace to keep things running smoothly during cold weather.

When Might I Need Boiler Work Done?
The obvious answer to this question is when your boiler stops working. But, if your boiler is fairly old, it’s always good to get it inspected annually and make sure that everything seems to be running well. Alternatively, a boiler expert may advise you to purchase a new boiler or get new parts.

If you live in a particularly cold or snowy area and don’t leave the heat on low or have a house sitter, be aware that you may need boiler work done when you get back, as water can freeze in extremely cold conditions. A pressure gauge that’s not working or a thermostat set too low may also be reasons why your boiler isn’t working, but if you stop receiving heat, it’s always best to call a professional to come check the situation out.

How Can I Keep My Furnace Properly Maintained?
Make sure that your furnace is getting inspected on an annual basis as that can help keep any potential issues from surfacing unexpectedly. A technician can come inspect your furnace or heat pump for around $80 to $100 and the inspection will also often monitor carbon-monoxide leakage.

You should also make sure that your furnace is getting regularly cleaned, as dirt can impact your furnace’s efficiency and safety. The main parts that need to be cleaned are the filter system, the blower, and the motor.

Another good thing to check regularly is your thermostat, especially if it’s older. If you’re setting your thermostat but not much is changing, it may need to be replaced. Furnace ducts also need to be cleaned and checked for repair, and if you’re using a gas furnace, make sure that the vents are being cleaned. Don’t forget to get your fan inspected as well!

It’s also worth checking your pilot light — some may have to be re-lit by hand — and making sure that not only is all the dust out of your blower motor, but that it’s well lubricated for the upcoming season as well.

How Can I Cut Down On My Heating Bills?
One of the best ways to keep your heating bills down is to eliminate any cracks or holes where drafts can come through — these can account for up to a quarter of your home’s heat being lost. It may also reduce the amount of space heating you need, which accounts for almost half the energy bill in a home.

Programmable thermostats are also key in reducing your heating costs. It can be set to make your home warmer during the time that you’re home and cooler when you’re out of the house — at work or school, for example. For every two degrees that your thermostat goes down, you could save 5% on your heating costs and it’s recommended that you turn your thermostats down (or off) while sleeping.

Also consider upgrading or replacing your insulation, which can help with both heating and cooling costs. If you don’t have good attic insulation, you could be throwing as much as 20% of every dollar you pay in home heating bills right out the roof.

For a warm and safe winter, make sure that your heating systems are checked out and ready to go before you turn them on.