Saturday, October 27, 2007

Preparing your HVAC System for Winter Living.

Your home is one of your greatest investments. Properly maintaining your home is paramount to preserving its maximum value. Properly maintaining your home will enhance its value and make it cheaper to run while you’re living in it. Also, lower operating costs also can make you home more saleable. After all, given the choice of two identical homes on the market, one with $150 per month utilities and one with $250 utilities, which as a buyer, would you choose?

One of the most common heating systems in Chicago is the central gas forced-air furnace. If you haven’t already, now is the time to undertake a few tasks to prepare your forced-air system for winter.

Taking these steps should help:

  • Save energy usage and costs.

  • Make your home more “livable” during the winter months.

  • Cause the systems in your home to last longer, thereby saving you maintenance and replacement costs.

It’s recommended that you replace your furnace filters every month. It has also been recommended that you use simple, inexpensive blue fiberglass filters - not the fancy (and expensive) high efficiency filters; they can actually restrict airflow in your furnace.

It is common for furnaces to have built in Aprilaire whole-house humidifiers. They should be used whenever the furnace is in operation. Adding humidity to the air in winter adds greatly to your comfort. The humidifier will also help maintain your wood floors and furniture.

Symptoms of not using your humidifier can include gaps forming between planks of your hardwood floors and shrinkage of wood furniture. Once your humidifier is properly working, it’s possible to cause your ‘dehydrated’ wood floors to restore themselves.

Every year you should open up the Aprilaire, clean it out and if necessary replace the filter panel. We find that soaking the filter panel in a solution of CLR and water for half a day will let us get away with 2 or more seasons without having to replace the filter. Please note that if a filter panel becomes clogged with lime or scale, it will overflow into the furnace and cause expensive damage to the furnace. So – clean or replace those water panel filters.

Turn on the water supply valve to the Aprilaire, move the flapper-valve on the air-supply pipe to the winter position (parallel to the pipe), and turn on the Aprilaire via the control panel which is next to your furnace thermostat.

The control panel settings for your Aprilaire are also important. Throughout the winter you must constantly adjust it based on the current outside air temperature. Right next to the dial for the Aprilaire controller is a chart that tells you where to set it for what temperature. Too much humidity causes the windows to sweat which can damage interior trim or harm double pane window thermo seals; too little and the floors begin to separate, your throat gets scratchy and it takes more energy to make you “feel” more warm and comfortable. Follow the instructions and keep it set properly.