Temperatures are starting to fall, and the winter season will be here before we know it. Unlike air conditioners, heaters are left untouched for most of the year. This long dormancy period can lead to issues such as cracks, dust buildup, and damage from the elements. If unchecked, these issues can lead to everything from expensive repairs and annoying breakdowns to dangerous health complications from carbon monoxide. Before you fire up your heater for the first time this winter, it’s important to have it inspected by a professional. Here are five things you can expect from the Chas Roberts 26-point maintenance plan.
When the chilly winter nights come around, a well-calibrated thermostat can be the difference between a cozy home that feels just right and a home that can’t seem to warm up at all. If your thermostat isn’t calibrated properly, there will be a disconnect between the temperature it displays and the actual temperature of the room. In addition, your heater may run more often than it needs to, leading to wasted energy and higher utility bills.
The standard deviation between actual indoor temperature and what your thermostat displays is two degrees. If the difference is higher, it’s best to either have the thermostat re-calibrated or replaced altogether if re-calibration doesn’t solve the problem. Manual thermostats always have to be replaced if they become uncalibrated. However, programmable thermostats can be re-calibrated by an HVAC professional.
If you have a gas heater, the technician will take some time to inspect the heater’s burner flames. Burner flames should be bright, even, and blue. Blue flames are optimal because they’re hotter than yellow flames, indicating that your heater is working efficiently and is not wasting gas. Yellow flames should be considered a warning sign that could point to dirty burners, combustion problems, or an excess of oxygen.
Your home can’t be heated without the help of a small, fragile component called an ignitor. The ignitor uses electricity to ignite the fuel and begin the process of creating heat in your furnace. Ignitors generally have a short lifespan, due to the fact that they get very hot and then cool down rapidly in order to heat your home to its desired temperature. This process causes considerable wear-and-tear over time.
During a maintenance check, the technician will first check for cracks and damages on the ignitor. These can cause the ignitor to fail, and interfere with its functions. If cracks are present, the ignitor will need to be replaced. The technician will also clean the area and components surrounding the ignitor, such as the filter and electrical housing, to ensure they’re free of any dust or dirt that may have built up.
A heat exchanger is the component of your heater that is responsible for actually heating the air. Fuel combusts inside the heat exchanger and makes it very hot. Then, the blower motor blows air over the exchanger, sending the heat into your ductwork to then be distributed throughout your home.
Heat exchangers can develop cracks that could allow carbon monoxide to enter your home and endanger you and your family. During an inspection, the technician will thoroughly check for obvious issues like cracks and other damage. If cracks are present, replacing your heat exchanger should immediately jump to the top of your “to-do” list. Since exposure to carbon monoxide is life-threatening, it’s important to have your heat exchanger replaced as soon as possible to minimize the risk.
Replacing a heat exchanger can be expensive and time-consuming. Oftentimes, it’s more cost effective to replace the entire heater. This is especially true if you’ve had your heater for more than 10 years, or you’ve experienced problems with it in the past—like uneven heating or general unreliability. Newer heaters are exceptionally energy-efficient, and you may find that you save money in the long run through lower utility bills. If you’re not sure whether replacing your heater is the right decision, contact one of our HVAC experts.
The air that a gas heater needs in order to burn safely is called combustion air. Without an adequate supply of combustion air, the heater won’t be able to function properly. During a maintenance inspection, the technician will ensure that your heater is getting enough combustion air, and that the air pressure is appropriate.
Heaters can either collect their combustion air from inside the home, or from outside the home. The source of combustion air usually correlates with the efficiency of the heater.
Standard efficiency heaters get their combustion air from inside the home. When the heater is running, air is continually being sucked out of the home and to the burner flame, before ultimately being sent outside. This creates the potential for a backdraft, where combustion gases collect inside your home instead of going out the exhaust vent. Since many of these gases, such as carbon monoxide, have no odor or color, you may be unaware of a backdraft until it’s too late. That’s why it’s essential to have your combustion air checked to ensure it’s venting properly.
High efficiency heaters usually get combustion air directly from outside. One common type of high efficiency heater, called a direct vent furnace, has two pipes going to the outside. One pipe takes gases out, and one pipe brings in fresh air for combustion. Since the combustion air comes from outdoors, there’s little danger of dangerous gases such as carbon monoxide coming into your home with direct vent furnaces. However, it’s still important to have the combustion air checked, in order to give you peace of mind.
Even in a mild climate like Phoenix, a reliable heater is still a valuable asset. After all, winter is the time for cozy family gatherings and fun holiday memories—not the time for costly heater breakdowns. Our comprehensive 26-point maintenance plan thoroughly inspects your heater from top to bottom, catching even the smallest problems. Keep the winter worry-free by scheduling maintenance today.