An efficiently running home heating system requires regular tune-ups. Similar should be done with boilers, furnaces, and heating pumps. A heater maintained by a professional heater technician annually or every two years can save you energy bill expenses. You shouldn't ignore routine upkeep. Here are some suggested DIY heater maintenance tips to be observed:
Check the Thermostat
Defective thermostats create different sources of problems. A sticky thermostat slows down the activation and responsiveness of the home heating system. If the automatic turning on and off of the heating is inaccurate, the result may be spontaneous and uncomfortable shifts in temperature which leadsto wasted money. Check thermostats yourself with a precise thermometer and a little of patience, or simply ask your heating service technician to do it.
Set Your Thermostat Correctly at the Right Time
Set back your thermostat before bedtime or prior to leaving the house. For instance, you’ll be able to save as practically 15 percent on your heating bill (and up to 10 percent on cooling) by just by making a 5-degree setback as your family sleeps. If you do this manually, you need to have a good memory and be dedicated to the routine of resetting it every night or during times when you are to leave the house, and then reset it again in the mornings or whenever you’re home. There are thermostat timers available for this purpose which can be easily installed.
Clean the Filters
The filters for forced-air heating systems should be cleaned or changed monthly during cooler months. The manuals provide instructions to do this. You may also ask the service technician to show you how to do during the regular heating system maintenance sessions.
Set the Fan at 110°F
Check the fan thermostat of your warm-air furnace. It must shut off at no higher than 90°F and turn up when the furnace reaches 110°F. If the thermostat has only a single setting, set it at 110°F.Ask your heater service technician to help you if you couldn’t find it.
Check Ducts for Leaks
Check ductwork annually for leaks. It is wise to have insulated ducts installed through unheated areas.
Clean the Chimney
When the cooler season draws near, woodstove owners must do chimney cleaning. If creosote builds up rapidly, chimney cleaning must be done in midwinter as well.
Unclog Air Vents
If you use a steam radiator system, check if the air vents work. Clogged vents are evidenced by blowing steam. Try removing the vent while the equipment is turned off and soak it in vinegar or in boiling water. If this does not unclog the vent, it’stime to buy a new steam radiator system.
Bleed air off the hot water radiators once or twice every heating season. To do this, hold a cup or pan below the valve then open the valve with a radiator key. Close the valve when all the air has escaped and only water comes out.
Check Water in Steam Boiler
Once every week, check your steam boiler to see to it that it has enough water and that safety switches are properly working. Drain sediment from the system regularly. If you are unsure on how to do this, ask your heating service technician.
Before spending a lot of money to buy a new home heating system, consider the possibility of upgrading your present equipment. Obviously, you do not wish to waste money on a system that has really outlasted its usefulness, but neither do you want to junk it if it is still modifiable to work efficiently for a few more years. Depending on what type system you have and its present condition, it’s always a good idea to consult an energy professional regarding the trade-offs involved in modifying a heating system against purchasing a new one.
Reset and Save
Yon can save 5 to 10 percent on your boiler’s fuel usage by resetting the aquastat. Except on the most frigid winter days, 150°F boiler water is adequate to warm your house. You will save money by manually readjusting the low-limit aquastat on the boiler to 140°F and the high-limit to 160°F. For a reasonable amount, you can set up a regulating aquastat that will automatically make temperature adjustments. In the long term, you will be able to save a good amount of money on energy and heating expenses.
Morrison, James Warner. The Complete Energy-Saving Handbook for Homeowners. New York: Harper & Row, 1979
Popular Science Apr 1980