Keep your home cozy this season using both DIY and professionals.
Even though winter may feel far away, now is the best time to begin thinking about your home heating system. It’s best to prepare well in advance of the coming cold season so that your system is ready when the first chill sets in.
It’s important to ensure that your heating system is operating effectively and safely. A poorly maintained furnace can produce dangerous amounts of carbon monoxide, an odorless, colorless gas that can cause flu-like symptoms, confusion and even death.
You can probably take care of some minor maintenance tasks on your own, but some will require an experienced professional. Follow our suggestions for these three different systems:
Wood-Burning Fireplaces and Stoves
Hire a pro: About 25,000 chimney fires break out annually due to creosote buildup in the chimney. A yearly visit from a professional chimney sweep can ensure your chimney is in proper working order. These professional sweeps have the knowledge, products and equipment to complete the job and create a safe environment in your home.
DIY: Be sure to do the following on a routine basis:
- Vacuum ashes from the firebox
- Clean glass doors with specialty fireplace glass cleaner
- Check the doors for proper operation and seal
- Check the damper to make sure it opens and closes properly
Gas Fireplace Inserts and Stoves
Hire a pro: Gas “wood stoves” or fireplace inserts are gaining in popularity. A certified technician should service this appliance each year in preparation for winter. This ensures that the appliance is clean, operating properly and not leaking any fuel or carbon monoxide.
DIY: Throughout the year, you should:
- Care for the spark arrestor on the chimney
- Use a screen or glass doors when the fire is burning
- Make sure the fire is out before closing the flue
Hire a pro: A qualified technician can prepare the furnace for the season in about one afternoon. Whether you have an oil, gas or electric system, you should have it serviced yearly, before the main heating season. If you have an oil-fired burner, the technician will clean the flue, change the fuel filter, and clean and adjust (or replace) the jets. If you have a gas-fired, forced-air system, the technician will clean the flue and ducts, inspect the heat exchange and replace the filter. And if you have an electric system, the technician will inspect and clean or repair any of the parts that may be worn.
DIY: In addition, you should:
- Change the filter every three to four months
- Keep vents in your home unobstructed
- Make sure there are no flammable objects around your furnace, such as paints, aerosols or gasoline
Knowing your home heating system is operating properly will provide you with peace of mind that just might make the transition from summer to snow a bit easier.