Heating System Maintenance – Tips – Ask this MN Realtor

So this morning I happened to be sitting in a classroom learning about some of the most common home defects.  The highlight for me was on the heating system.  Why was this the most beneficial?  I learned two things that can keep the repair-person away and reduce those high service costs.

First off he shared a tip that was really super simple and yet he said that most persons don’t do a very good job of this one.  His tip…  Change the filter every 30 days year round if you are running a central air system along with heating.  He also recommended buying the most reasonable filter.  Unless you have an added need for allergy reducing its better to have a bit more dust.  These more expensive filters can actually be costing you more in more ways than initial cost.  He said that the furnace must work harder to suck in that fresh air and that some furnaces will actually shut down if they are not getting an adequate supply.  He also shared that this lack of air can actually cause the system to overheat and shut down, or to overwork, overheat, and maybe cause a fire.  Yikes!  Needless to say, I was listening!  I will be buying a box of low cost filters and will be marking my calendar to make sure I get a new one in place every 30 days.

The second tip that I found really good was one I had heard before from an inspection company.  That tip is to leave the fan on the system running always.  He said that the mix of heat or cooling is more even in the home because of this constant movement and that the running of the system will actually reduce wear and tear on the system making it likely last longer.  He promised that this will only add a tiny bit to your monthly energy bill.

Two tips is good, but how about a bonus tip?  This inspector shared a story about a visit he had been on a few years ago.  He had stopped at the address, noticed that the homeowner had plastic on the outside of the windows.  Later when inside he seen all of the children wrapped in blankets and watching tv.  Since he had been outdoors it took him awhile to notice that the house was really cold, about 62 degrees.

He took the homeowner downstairs to the heating system and found it interesting that the homeowner commented on a smell of plastic burning coming from his furnace.  The duct work was very hot to the touch.  The homeowner thought something was wrong, but did not know what and since it was working (matter of opinion).  The inspector asked when he had last changed the filter and the homeowner said “filter?”

Apparently the homeowner did not know that you needed to replace filters in the furnace and so in three years the home never had a filter change.  The two of them spent over an hour cutting and pulling out the bits of filter, dust, etc from the filter slot.  The inspector sent him to the store for a cheap filter, he replaced it and the homeowner spoke with him about a month later saying that the home was now heating so well that he was able to remove the plastic from the outside of the windows.  He was lucky not to have burned down his home or break his heating system.  He likely reduced the life of his furnace however.

A great story and great reason to change out those filters.  It does make a difference.  Did you know that filters have an arrow for air flow?  Do you know which way to install the filter so that it is working its best?

Ready for that last tip?  Always, that is ALWAYS, put the arrows toward the furnace!

What home maintenance tips can you share with me?  Do you have a good story of a house maintenance disaster or near disaster?

Kim Woehl is a licensed real estate expert with Keller Williams Premier Realty and can be reached at 651-214-1459.  Please give her a call if you are considering buying, selling, relocating or just would like to see what is available in the current market.

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