Monday, November 3, 2014

Back to Basics - Your Heating and Cooling Systems

All homes have some method of heating.  The most common type of heating system is a forced air furnace. The furnace can be powered by electricity or gas.  Temperature is controlled by a thermostat.  The heat from the furnace enters the home through vents in walls and/or ceilings and cold air is returned to the furnace through larger vents called “cold air return” vents.  Another type of heating system is hydronic or hot water heating.  In this type of heating the water is heated in a boiler, which is typically powered by gas or electricity, and then circulated through pipes to convectors or radiators located throughout the house.

If the home has a cooling system it will be one or more of the following three types of systems; Air Conditioner, Evaporative Cooler (Swamp Cooler), Attic Fan.
Air conditioners are run by electricity.  They can be room or whole house units.  Room air conditioners are mounted in windows or walls and are operated manually.  Whole house units are set on a cement slab outside and are connected to the furnace venting system and controlled by the thermostat. 
Evaporative Coolers (swamp coolers) require both electricity and water.  Swamp coolers can be mounted in windows, walls or on the roof.  The control is located at the swamp cooler or on a separate thermostat inside.  Water is piped to the swamp cooler via a copper tube connected to your cold water line.  A shut off valve is installed at the branch.
Whole House fans are run by electricity and are located in the ceiling on the upper floor and vent into the attic. House fans should be used only at night after the outside temperature has dropped.  This pulls the cooler outside air through the house the hot air is vented into the attic.

Maintaining Your Heating Systems

  • ŸInstall smoke and carbon monoxide detectors in recommended locations throughout your house.
  •  Change batteries in your smoke and carbon monoxide detectors every 6 months.
  • ŸChange or clean furnace filters regularly. Check monthly at first to determine appropriate replacement interval for your home and lifestyle. Dirty filters will prevent your furnace from running efficiently wasting energy, money and potentially causing damage to the furnace. Note:  The filter must be changed year round if you have whole house (central) air-conditioning)  How to change your furnace filter
  • Have your furnace cleaned and serviced annually to prolong the life of your system.
  • ŸHave fireplaces inspected and serviced every year. For wood burning fireplaces contact a chimney sweep for gas fireplaces contact a gas appliance service company.
Maintaining Your Cooling Systems

  • Evaporative coolers (AKA swamp coolers) should be drained seasonally to prevent water lines from freezing and splitting. Cooling pads should be replaced every 2 years.
  • ŸCentral Humidifier filters should be inspected and cleaned or replaced on a regular basis.  Check monthly to determine appropriate replacement interval for your home and lifestyle, then perform routine maintenance.
  • Air conditioners should not be run if the outside temperature is below 65 degrees F.
  • Whole house air conditioning systems should be serviced annually.
Some helpful links:

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