Atlanta HVAC expert shares heating system maintenance tips
What do I need to know about my heating system going into the winter?
It's important from both a safety and performance point of view to get it tuned up. Some furnaces only deliver 50 to 55 percent of the heat you pay for. You need to tune it up if you want all your heat. We check the airflow, the burner, ignition, safety switches, filter and so on.
Who we talked to
Martin Hoover got into heating and cooling as he was working his way through school. “I fell in love with it, and it’s been 37 years since I ran my first service call,” he says. He and his wife, Gila, opened Empire Heating & Air Conditioning in 1985.
Dirt and rust buildup can play a huge role in impacting efficiency. The biggest safety concern is carbon monoxide when you have a gas furnace. You have to make sure the venting system is right. If your unit overheats, it can wear things out, that's a sign that there's more problems to come.
You should tune up your heating and cooling system every year. People assume that it's best to tune up the furnace in September and air conditioning in April. That's not always the case. As long as you're consistently doing the tuneup, seasons don't matter all that much.
Make sure the front of the unit and registers and grills aren't blocked. Don't store any caustic or flammable chemicals near the furnace. The filter needs to be clean. Make sure all the air is going through. Some filters are installed in such a way that the air can go around it, and that defeats the purpose in keeping your house and equipment clean. Make sure the area where it's installed is sealed well. Keep it from drawing air out of the closet or crawl space or wherever it's kept.
Duct leakage can do all sorts of bad things. You can create a negative pressure that causes contaminated air to escape into the living space. And if there's a negative pressure, that can cause higher heating costs and a dirtier home.
Any strange odors or noises need to be looked into. It's not unusual for the very first time a furnace comes on to get a slight odor, but that should be gone after the first cycle. Anything you notice that's different from prior years - rooms overheating, cycling off and on too quickly, takes too long to heat up - are all indications that there might be a problem. Just becomes it comes on initially and is running well doesn't mean it's running properly. You still could be paying way too much for energy.
The best way to save energy is to use less heat. The most common setting we see is 72 or 73 degrees, but you're better off wearing socks and more clothes and keeping it at 68 degrees. If you keep the humidity up in your house, it'll make you more comfortable.