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The 10 Best Ways to Avoid Heating System Breakdowns Before the Winter

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Before the weather gets so cold that you and your family are relying heavily on your home’s heating system, take time to go through the following ten steps to side step any untimely heating system breakdowns. In doing so, you’ll significantly improve your odds of enjoying safe, comfortable, and energy-efficient heat all winter long.

  1. Change out air filters on furnaces and boilers at least once a month in winter. Filters collect pet hair, dust, and debris. Over time, they get clogged and can no longer properly perform their function, which is to block dirt while allowing air to flow through. In winter, check or change filters once a month.
  2. Invest in an annual professional maintenance visit. Have your heating system checked at least once a year, preferably near the end of summer or the beginning of fall. This once-a-year checkup will uncover any potential threats to the operation of your heating system.
  3. Test smoke and carbon monoxide detectors. Malfunctioning heating systems can leak carbon monoxide or spew smoke. If you test your detectors and ensure they are working properly, you can better make sure that your heating system isn’t leaking dangerous toxins or smoke.
  4. Clear the area around heating systems to reduce the risk of fire. Never store anything near the heating system. In particular, keep old cans of paint, kerosene and old newspapers far away from your heating system. In the event of a stray spark, a deadly fire could erupt in an instant.
  5. Set the thermostat at a reasonable temperature. Heating systems function within a range of power. Setting your thermostat too high can put considerable strain on your heating system to maintain that higher temperature. To ensure the thermostat stays at a reasonable setting, consider installing a lockable, transparent cover over the thermostat. Alternatively, you can install a programmable thermostat. A programmable thermostat will allow you to easily lower temperatures when you’re not home, such as when you’re at work.
  6. Seal leaks in attics and crawl spaces with heat tape to avoid heating loss. Since heat rises, much of your home’s heat loss will occur in the attic. Loss of heat means your heating system may be straining to maintain adequate temperatures.
  7. Check the pilot light on the heating system for any discoloration. The pilot light operates with the addition of air to flame and gas. There is a delicate balance. Too much gas and it burns rich. Too little gas and it burns lean. If you’re unsure about maintaining the pilot light, consult a local heating specialist.
  8. Insulate pipes. Whether your home has forced hot air or forced hot water, the air and water have to travel along through the pipes to reach your home’s vents. Between the heating system and the vents, the air and water are cooled somewhat by the ambient temperature. You can help keep the air or water warm by installing foam pipe insulators along the route until the pipes reach the vents.
  9. Add attic insulation. You likely already have attic insulation running along the joists. Increase the insulation value by running a second layer perpendicular to the first layer.
  10. Sign up for automatic delivery of your heating oil or propane. In winter, you don’t want to ever run out of heating fuel. If you did, that would be the most easily avoidable heating system breakdown of all. When you have automatic deliveries set up, you’ll always be assured plenty of fuel.

Now that you know the dangers of heating system breakdowns, the benefits of routine maintenance, and how to avoid problems, it’s time to take action before the first snowflake flies. Call your heating specialist today to get started.

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