Furnace Tips for Efficiency & Safety

The cost of heating your home can be up to one-third of your home’s energy bill, and your furnace or boiler can also pose a significant safety risk. This article and video gives you 21 tips for your furnace or boiler, that can help you to:

  • save money
  • improve safety
  • extend useful life

FURNACE OPERATING TIPS

  1. Have an annual inspection done.

    Each year you should have a professional service person conduct a thorough cleaning, inspection, and adjustment of your furnace. This is critical for ensuring the safety and energy efficiency of your furnace or boiler.

  2. Install a carbon monoxide detector near your furnace or boiler,

    so this can alert you to the presence of deadly CO gas from improper combustion or flue gas leaks (see types, costs, and reviews of CO alarms).

  3. Install ducting to bring outside air directly into the burner,

    if your furnace or boiler is fired by oil, gas or propane. Ducting in outside air will allow your furnace to burn cold air from the outside, instead of warm air from inside your house.

  4. Upgrade to a more energy-efficient furnace or boiler.

    If you have an older unit, the energy savings and potential rebates can often pay for the cost of the new furnace in just a few years.

  5. Keep your furnace room clean and uncluttered,

    especially near the burner area. This helps to minimize dust and dirt intake into the burner, and it also reduces the risk of fire in your furnace room.

  6. Ensure adequate air for combustion.

    If your burner is starved for air, it will operate both inefficiently and unsafely.

  7. If gas-fired, keep your pilot light burning all year long,

    as this will help reduce condensation in the system that leads to corrosion.

  8. Do not keep any flammable liquids or materials in your furnace or boiler room,

    as these can create a fire hazard.

  9. Upgrade your furnace to a heat pump or a geothermal heat pump,

    as either of these are more energy efficient than a traditional furnace or boiler.

  10. Use a space heater to heat an area of a single room,

    rather than running your central heating. For a heating a small area, a space heater can be more efficient (see types, costs, and reviews of space heaters).

  11. Test your heating system early in the fall

    well before the heating season, to be sure it is ready for winter use if it needs any extensive work, and also before service providers get busy.

  12. Try adjusting your thermostat down by a couple of degrees and dressing a little warmer.

    Each degree raised over 68 degrees can save up to 3 percent on your heating bill (see types, costs, and reviews of smart thermostats).

  13. Don’t set your thermostat at a higher setting than normal when you first turn on your heating system,

    & as it will not heat up your home any faster, and may result in excessive heating.

  14. If you hear anything unusual with your heating system, get in touch with your service professional right away,

    so you can catch problems early, before they become serious.

  15. Lower the temperature on your thermostat by 10 degrees when no one is home,

    as this will save you money for heat that you don’t need while gone.

  16. Make sure that your thermostat is not being hit by direct sunlight or any other heat source,

    such as a heat register, lamp, television, etc., as this can fool your thermostat into turning off and on at the wrong times.

  17. Close doors to rooms on outside walls without thermostats that aren’t being used,

    as this will help reduce heat losses to these unused rooms

  18. Check that your thermostats are mounted level horizontally.

    On some models if they are not level, then they do not perform properly.

  19. Clean your thermostats regularly.

    Remove your thermostat cover and vacuum any dust build-up, and clean switch contacts using a Q-tip dipped in alcohol.

  20. Check the temperature calibration of your thermostat, and adjust it if necessary.

    A thermostat that is not calibrated properly will turn on and off at the wrong times.

  21. And finally, install a programmable or “smart” web-enabled thermostat.

    These types of thermostats can save you money on energy by automatically changing your temperature settings for the times that you are typically away from the house, sleeping, etc.

 

SUMMARY

We hope these 21 operating tips will help you to save money on the largest consumer of energy in your home, and that they will also help you to improve the safety of your furnace or boiler.

Home Detective is a 5 Star Rated, Certified Home Inspector with a Warranty Program & Veteran Owned.   To schedule a home inspection, contact Reed today at https://homedetectivemn.com online or at (763) 434-3155.  Buyers Home Inspection Brainerd | Certified Home Inspector Otsego | Pre-Listing Home Inspection Garrison | Home Inspection for Sellers Maple Grove

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Preparing Your Home For Winter

Winter can be very hard on both your home and your pocketbook. This article gives you a checklist of things you can do to both protect your home, and to help to reduce your energy bills this winter:

Seal Potential Air Leaks

. Air leaking around windows, doors, pipes, and where building materials meet will cause you to have higher energy bills this winter. A little bit of weatherstripping and caulking goes a long way towards cutting your utility bills.

 

Paint or Seal Any Exposed Wood.

Unprotected wood will take a real beating by harsh winter weather, and can result in wood rot and water penetrating into your home (helpful accessory: clear wood sealers).

 

Cover AC Units.

Covering your outside air conditioning units can help protect this expensive equipment from the winter elements (helpful accessory: AC covers).

 

Check Emergency Supplies.

Even if you have well-stocked emergency supplies (batteries, candles, food, water, etc.) you should still check to be sure that they are all still there, and that the supplies are all still fresh (helpful accessory: emergency kits).

 

Tie-up or Cover Bushes and Shrubs.

Tying up your bushes and shrubs can help protect them from being destroyed when they become covered with heavy ice or snow.

 

Inspect Large Trees.

Trees which could potentially hit your home, fence or on-property structures should be inspected prior to the winter, and any likely hazards should be addressed.

 

Take Down Screens and Put Up Storm Windows.

Screens can be easily damaged by ice and flying debris. And of course storm windows helps reduce heat loss from your home.

 

Inspect Outside Light Bulbs.

If you have light bulbs that have burned out, then you will want to replace them before the winter makes doing this more difficult, and when the short days make the outside lights more necessary.

 

Check Roof De-Icing Cables.

If your home uses electric tracing cables to de-ice your roof to prevent “ice dams,” then you should inspect your cables prior to the winter.

 

Check CO Monitors and Smoke Detectors.

Especially if you have a gas or oil-fired heating system, you should check your CO monitors and smoke detectors prior to the winter and test them monthly (see types, costs, and reviews of CO monitors).

 

Secure BBQ and Patio Furniture.

If you have a barbecue or outdoor patio furniture, you should secure them from the winter elements.

 

Inspect for Pest Control.

Some pests like to find someplace warm to spend the winter. If you don’t want company from them in your home this winter, then you will want check that all of the potential openings to your home (around pipes, through attic vents, etc.) are sealed off.

 

Drain Outside Water Faucets.

Outside water faucets can freeze and crack, causing water to leak into your home. Here is our video showing how to properly drain the water from them: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=63WIAboJNWw

 

Clean and Inspect Gutters and Downspouts.

Your roof gutters and downspouts protect your home from water building up around your foundation. You should check to be sure they are properly channeling water away from your home.

 

Clean Basement Window Wells.

The build-up of leaves and debris should be removed from your basement window wells to prevent water damage, pest infestations, etc.

Home Detective is a 5 Star Rated, Certified Home Inspector with a Warranty Program & Veteran Owned.   To schedule a home inspection, contact Reed today at https://homedetectivemn.com online or at (763) 434-3155.  Buyers Home Inspection Brainerd | Certified Home Inspector Otsego | Pre-Listing Home Inspection Garrison | Home Inspection for Sellers Maple Grove

Read more...

Preparing Your Home For Winter

Winter can be very hard on both your home and your pocketbook. This article gives you a checklist of things you can do to both protect your home, and to help to reduce your energy bills this winter:

Seal Potential Air Leaks

. Air leaking around windows, doors, pipes, and where building materials meet will cause you to have higher energy bills this winter. A little bit of weatherstripping and caulking goes a long way towards cutting your utility bills.

 

Paint or Seal Any Exposed Wood.

Unprotected wood will take a real beating by harsh winter weather, and can result in wood rot and water penetrating into your home (helpful accessory: clear wood sealers).

 

Cover AC Units.

Covering your outside air conditioning units can help protect this expensive equipment from the winter elements (helpful accessory: AC covers).

 

Check Emergency Supplies.

Even if you have well-stocked emergency supplies (batteries, candles, food, water, etc.) you should still check to be sure that they are all still there, and that the supplies are all still fresh (helpful accessory: emergency kits).

 

Tie-up or Cover Bushes and Shrubs.

Tying up your bushes and shrubs can help protect them from being destroyed when they become covered with heavy ice or snow.

 

Inspect Large Trees.

Trees which could potentially hit your home, fence or on-property structures should be inspected prior to the winter, and any likely hazards should be addressed.

 

Take Down Screens and Put Up Storm Windows.

Screens can be easily damaged by ice and flying debris. And of course storm windows helps reduce heat loss from your home.

 

Inspect Outside Light Bulbs.

If you have light bulbs that have burned out, then you will want to replace them before the winter makes doing this more difficult, and when the short days make the outside lights more necessary.

 

Check Roof De-Icing Cables.

If your home uses electric tracing cables to de-ice your roof to prevent “ice dams,” then you should inspect your cables prior to the winter.

 

Check CO Monitors and Smoke Detectors.

Especially if you have a gas or oil-fired heating system, you should check your CO monitors and smoke detectors prior to the winter and test them monthly (see types, costs, and reviews of CO monitors).

 

Secure BBQ and Patio Furniture.

If you have a barbecue or outdoor patio furniture, you should secure them from the winter elements.

 

Inspect for Pest Control.

Some pests like to find someplace warm to spend the winter. If you don’t want company from them in your home this winter, then you will want check that all of the potential openings to your home (around pipes, through attic vents, etc.) are sealed off.

 

Drain Outside Water Faucets.

Outside water faucets can freeze and crack, causing water to leak into your home. Here is our video showing how to properly drain the water from them: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=63WIAboJNWw

 

Clean and Inspect Gutters and Downspouts.

Your roof gutters and downspouts protect your home from water building up around your foundation. You should check to be sure they are properly channeling water away from your home.

 

Clean Basement Window Wells.

The build-up of leaves and debris should be removed from your basement window wells to prevent water damage, pest infestations, etc.

Home Detective is a 5 Star Rated, Certified Home Inspector, Warranty Program, Appointment Slots Available this Week.  Veteran Owned.   To schedule a home inspection, contact Reed today at https://homedetectivemn.com online or at (763) 434-3155.  Buyers Home Inspection Brainerd | Certified Home Inspector Otsego | Pre-Listing Home Inspection Garrison | Home Inspection for Sellers Maple Grove

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Newsletter

Home Detective of MN Home Inspection Newsletter

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Attached Garage Fire Hazards

by Nick Gromicko and Kenton Shepard

 

The purpose of this article is twofold. First, at InterNACHI, we’d like you to take measures to keep your garage free from fire. Fortunately, there are ways this can be done, some of which are described below. Secondly, garage fires do happen, and we’d like you to make sure that a fire cannot not easily spread to the rest of your house. While you can perform many of the recommendations in this article yourself, it is a good idea to hire an InterNACHI inspector to make sure your home is safe from a garage fire.

 

Why do many garages pose a fire hazard?

• Where are you most likely to do any welding, or any work on your car? These activities require working with all sorts of flammable materials.

• Water heaters and boilers are usually stored in garages, and they can create sparks that may ignite fumes or fluids. Car batteries, too, will spark under certain conditions.

• Oil and gasoline can drip from cars. These fluids may collect unnoticed and eventually ignite, given the proper conditions.

• Flammable liquids, such as gasoline, motor oil and paint are commonly stored in garages. Some other examples are brake fluid, varnish, paint thinner and lighter fluid.

The following tips can help prevent garage fires and their spread:

• If the garage allows access to the attic, make sure a hatch covers this access.

• The walls and ceiling should be fire-rated. Unfortunately, it will be difficult for untrained homeowners to tell if their walls are Type X fire-rated gypsum. An InterNACHI inspector can examine the walls and ceiling to make sure they are adequate fire barriers.

• The floor should be clear of clutter. Loose papers, matches, oily rags, and other potentially  flammable items are extremely dangerous if they are strewn about the garage floor.

• Use light bulbs with the proper wattage, and do not overload electrical outlets.

• Tape down all cords and wires so they are not twisted or accidentally yanked.

If there is a door that connects the garage to the living area, consider the following:

• Do not install a pet door in the door! Flames can more easily spread into the living area through a pet door, especially if it’s made of plastic.

• Does the door have a window? An InterNACHI inspector can inspect the window to tell if it’s fire-rated.

• The door should be self-closing. While it may be inconvenient, especially while carrying groceries into the house from the car, doors should be self-closing. You never know when a fire will happen, and it would be unfortunate to accidentally leave the door open while a fire is starting in the garage.

• Check the joints and open spaces around the door. Are they tightly sealed? Any openings at all can allow dangerous fumes, such as carbon monoxide or gasoline vapor, to enter the living area. An InterNACHI inspector can recommend ways to seal the door so that fumes cannot enter the living area.

Concerning items placed on the floor, you should check for the following:

• Store your flammable liquids in clearly labeled, self-closing containers, and only in small amounts. Keep them away from heaters, appliances, pilot lights and other sources of heat or flame.

• Never store propane tanks indoors. If they catch fire, they can explode. Propane tanks are sturdy enough to be stored outdoors.

In summary, there are plenty of things that you can do to prevent garage fires from spreading to the rest of the house, or to keep them from starting in the first place. However, it is highly recommended that you have your garage periodically examined by an InterNACHI inspector

 

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Home Detective of MN. 763-434-3155.

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