Hilliary Mites, HVACR Tech, Boulder. It is the middle of winter, and if you’re the proud owner of a gas furnace, it may be the time to show some love to your hearth. Here are a few tips that are inexpensive, and not too demanding on ye olde back.
Furnace? Electric or gas, it’s always a good idea to change your filter on a regular basis. Your furnace is only able to heat your home if it can move the amount of air it was designed to move. Changing the filter also keeps debris out of the blower fan and heat exchanger on a gas furnace, greatly prolonging your furnace’s life. A clean filter also improves efficiency, as 1/16” dust on a furnace blower fan can reduce CFM efficiency by 18%! When purchasing a new disposable pleated filter, pay attention to the “MERV” rating, usually listed on the filter packaging. The higher the MERV rating, the more filtration you are getting every hour your furnace is running. Other options for residential air filtration are washable reusable pleated filters, and electrostatic air filters.
Now let’s have a look at that those registers. No, not the ones with cash, the ones with the heat that’s supposed to be warming your house! They may be at the top of the wall or ceiling, they may be on the floor. Can’t find them anywhere? They’re blocked! Okay… Now that you’ve got them all uncovered, here is a very simple test you can do to get your home heating somewhere in the ball park of warm: With a piece of masking tape, attach a 5” strand of #2 (7/16”-1/2”) holiday ribbon to the fins of the grille. Is it doing nothing? Use the lever on the side to open the grille until the ribbon is at a steady loft. Is it trying to run away for all it’s worth? Close the lever until you’ve achieved a steady loft. Is it getting pulled in? You’ve found a supply register, which is pulling air from your house back into your furnace. Keeping all of your furnace’s supply and return air grilles uncovered and properly balanced will mean less work and longer life for your furnace and more warmth for you.
One more simple tip: Keep an eye on that thermostat. If the kids had a pillow fight and now your furnace isn’t working, or working way to good, check the settings. Is it set to “heat” instead of “off” or “cool”, is the fan set to “auto” and not “on”? If it is a programmable, did someone else employ his or her own idea of comfort?
Your furnace works hard. How hard it has to work depends on your homes’ insulation in the walls, ceiling, and floors. Windows, doors, siding, southern exposure, and how many computers and bodies are in the house also play a part (an average human produces 300 btu/h! If you suspect an issue with your furnace, such as it is not producing enough heat, producing too much heat, making loud noises, or seems to turn on or off very often, it is worth the investment to hire professional help to tackle the problem before it turns into a real check crasher. Establishing regular preventative maintenance schedules (usually 2x a year depending on your use) to clean your blower fan, ductwork, and inspect your electrical and gas connections can ensure your furnace runs smoothly throughout winter, and won’t cost you much time or money.
Stay warm, my friends!