Home Improvement | 26 December 2016Getting to Know Your Home’s Heating System Share article facebook twitter google pinterest If you are new to home ownership, this big old or new box of components might be just a bit confusing. Being in charge is a whole new responsibility on top of making the monthly mortgage payment. Here’s a small investment that will pay you back in multiples—the BLACK+DECKER Home Planner & Logbook. You might wonder why, in the age of the Internet, you need a physical book. After all, you are reading a blog, aren’t you? Well here’s what’s special about this book. For starters, it serves as a repository for all the information about your house—insurance agent, emergency plumber, and service plan numbers. Information that is at your fingertips when the power goes out, the Internet goes down, and you have dropped your phone in the toilet. This book also has a wealth of information on all the systems that make up the complex entity that is your home. By reading this book and following the pointers for inspection and maintenance, you can potentially save thousands of dollars by catching issues before they become catastrophes. An annual inspection for your furnace is a good idea. Source – BLACK+DECKER Home Planner & Logbook On a chilly winter night or a blazing summer day, your heating, ventilation, and air-conditioning (HVAC) system will feel like the most important component in your house. Since we are moving into the chillier end of the year, let’s look into the heating system. Heating involves a furnace or boiler and a variable system of ducts, pipes, radiators, or vents. A boiler system heats water then pumps it through radiators to disperse the heat. Source – BLACK+DECKER Home Planner & Logbook Hot water or steam systems actually have much in common with your plumbing system. Water is heated (sometimes until it forms steam—depending on the system), and then circulated via pipes to room radiators. Cooled water is routed back to the boiler to be reheated. These systems are relatively trouble-free, though the gas-fired boilers should occasionally be serviced for inspection and cleaning. A furnace distributes heated air through a system of ducts. Source – BLACK+DECKER Home Planner & Logbook Forced-air systems use a gas or electric furnace to heat air, which is then blown into ducts that route the air throughout the house. The air flows out of vents in individual rooms. Because forced-air systems have motors and blowers, they are more likely to require service and even replacement. Make sure to have a dependable service person on file. Essential Ventilation. The V in HVAC is just as important as the other letters. That’s because your house is meant to breathe. Move air into, up, and through the home, and you remove contaminants and moisture. Left stagnant, those can create problems ranging from mild (peeling wallpaper) to major (subsurface black mold). Proper ventilation is crucial to good indoor air quality. Outdoor air comes in through cracks and gaps, doors and windows, and by way of vent fans and other mechanical sources of ventilation. Vent fans are used in bathrooms and kitchens and, less often, in the attic. They remove steamy air from bathrooms that can create ongoing moisture problems. A kitchen vent fan is a must for removing cooking odors and ensuring airborne grease doesn’t stick to walls. Attic, or whole-house, fans draw fresh air up through the spaces below. Large, whole-house fans have largely been replaced by air conditioning. But a large, high-cfm whole-house fan can cool the entire house after the sun goes down, and do it entirely with fresh air. Look for: blocked vents; non-functioning kitchen, bathroom, or whole-house fans; windows stuck shut; fans drawing very little air. Your Boiler or Furnace The difference between a boiler and a furnace is air. A furnace heats air and blows it into ducts that distribute it throughout the house. A boiler heats water. The hot water or steam circulates through exposed pipes, baseboard heaters, or radiators. Efficiency is a key. Furnaces are more energy-efficient than boilers. Electric units are more efficient than gas-fired models. The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has required energy efficiency ratings on all new heating units since 1992. The ratings measure annual fuel utilization efficiency (AFUE), the percentage of fuel burned that translates directly to heat. Any post-1992 unit should have the AFUE rating marked on the cabinet. Even without the rating, you’ll find other indications of efficiency. For instance, a furnace or boiler with a continuous pilot light and a physically heavy heat exchanger will likely be low efficiency. Smaller units with electronic ignitions and smaller diameter flue will be more efficient. The most efficient have a secondary heat exchanger and sealed combustion. Older units that are still in good shape can be retrofitted and upgraded to make them more efficient and low maintenance. You can hire an expert to perform a combustion efficiency test to determine your current model’s efficiency. A furnace or boiler lasts 15 to 20 years. If yours is aging, you’ll find that newer technology has advanced by leaps and bounds, and you should probably consider replacement. A furnace usually has two sets of metal duct work, one to bring cooled air back to be reheated, and the other to distribute the heated air to the house. Source – BLACK+DECKER Home Planner & Logbook Forced-air furnace. Start by determining the fuel source. Most furnaces are gas, which involves checking pilot light and vents. A clean cabinet means there is limited dirt and debris that could clog air vents. Look for: Damaged or leaky vent or chimney connection pipe; smell of gas (heat exchangers in gas-fired furnaces mix air and gas and often leak as they age, requiring professional attention immediately); combustion chamber cracks; incorrect fuel settings and flame height and color; failed seals between furnace and ductwork; dirty furnace filter. A boiler has a series of pipes to carry heated water out to radiators and bring cooled water back to be reheated. The metal duct is the exhaust pipe. Source – BLACK+DECKER Home Planner & Logbook Boiler. Boilers—steam or hot water—are both plumbing and heating fixtures. Standing water is a sign of trouble. Check pressure-release valves on the boiler and on radiators or baseboard units. Look for: hot water system: functioning pressure-release valve; properly functioning high-level control; pressure tank filled with air, not water; dirty heat exchanger; steam system: sediment buildup; malfunctioning low-water cutoff safety control or high-limit safety control; float chamber sediment; dirty heat exchanger; leaks at radiator connections; pipe joint; obvious corrosion or rust. Other heating options. Your home may have other forms of heating. In-floor or radiant heat runs heated water through tubing imbedded in the flooring. The water is heated by a boiler or water heater. A remodeled bathroom or kitchen might have electric radiant heat, but electric radiant systems are not used for a whole home. Sometimes remodeled homes have two separate heating systems, so you might have forced air in one area of the house and hot water heat in another, or radiant heat on the first floor and forced air on the second. Geothermal systems use a heat pump and underground piping to pull heat from the earth to heat your home and hot water. Buy from an Online Retailer US: UK: When was the last time you changed your furnace filter? What was the exact shade of the paint you used in the guest bedroom? Is your oven still under warranty? Every homeowner should know the answer to these questions, and many more, but keeping up with every little thing can be a challenge. It helps if you have a system! That’s where the BLACK+DECKER Home Planner & Logbook comes in. This book tells you what you need to know, how to get the information, and gives you lots of room to keep records about: – House History – Financial Information and Warranties – Scheduled Maintenance Log – Appliances – Heating & Cooling – Repair Projects – Decorative Log including Paint & Floor Coverings – Outdoor Areas & Home Exterior Why not just use a blank notebook? Because the Black & Decker Home Planner & Logbook is full of photos, illustrations, and tips to help you decode every system in your house, such as how to read a water meter or estimate the shelf life of paint. Two large pockets attached to the back cover help you securely store receipts, warranties, manuals, and other documents, so you won’t have to scramble to find your plumber’s phone number during an emergency! Share article facebook twitter google pinterest If you have any comments on this article please contact us or get in touch via social media.