You installed your natural gas heating system to give good economy and many years of service. As with anything else quietly working away day by day, regular professional furnace cleaning maintenance is the best way to prolong its safety and efficiency. A thorough yearly check brings a lot of peace of mind. These following points about your heating system are worth reviewing –
* Clean filters promote energy efficiency and cost savings. Disposable filters should be replaced at least twice a year, and permanent filters cleaned whenever they look dirty. Use the manufacturer’s instructions as a guide. Venting should be checked at the same time for corrosion or obstructions.
* The furnace needs sufficient air to work properly. A fresh air inlet in the furnace room that is not obstructed is important. Lack of air or poor air circulation can cause improper combustion and production of dangerous carbon monoxide. Make sure to never restrict the air circulation by running the furnace with the fan compartment cover removed.
* A blue/red flame gives the right message. It indicates proper combustion. A yellow flame indicates soot and combustion problems that left unattended could eventually snuff out the pilot light. Adjustment by a qualified technician is indicated. This is one of the long list of checks made by a professional service technician when servicing your system.
* Inspect chimneys (metal vents) annually. Remove the bottom inspection plate. Check for blockages that could cause downdrafts (make sure to replace the inspection plate).
* Tidy the area around the furnace and water heater. Move combustible materials well away (paints, papers, cardboard, etc.). Also, for general safety, never store flammable liquids such as gasoline, paint thinner, or paint remover inside your home.
* A humidifier can be a good investment. The air in Calgary and area is normally very dry. Air moistened by a good humidifier is easier and more economical to heat. Be advised though that certain types of humidifiers will have to be cleaned frequently to avoid the build-up of sediment that comes with Calgary’s hard water.
If you have a fireplace, enjoy your wood fire. When the fire is burning in your fireplace allow a steady supply of fresh air into your home. This is very important. The reason is that the burning fire will continually pull air from inside your home. If this air is not replenished, the air pressure inside will drop, and outside air will be drawn in through gas appliance chimneys. Then, when the gas appliances come on, their combustion products can’t exit by the appliance chimney and instead spread out into your home. As the cycle continues, incomplete combustion occurs, producing carbon monoxide, and the chance of carbon monoxide poisoning becomes a serious hazard.
Therefore, with the damper open . . . open the window. Fresh air is the answer. When the fireplace damper is opened to allow the fire to draw well and burn properly, also open a window wide enough to bring in sufficient replacement air from outside. Keep the window open until the fire is completely out and the damper is closed. When the fireplace is not is use, keep the damper closed to avoid losing your home’s heat up the chimney.
Recognize the signs of exposure to carbon monoxide.
Carbon monoxide is a very dangerous poisonous gas. It is odorless; neither can it be tasted or seen. Exposure to carbon monoxide can produce the following symptoms: a head-achy feeling; tightness across the forehead and in the temple; watering and smarting of the eyes; and loss of muscular control. Should you experience any of these symptoms, go outside into the fresh air and call the gas company, 911, or your local fire department.