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More Winter Preparation

More Winter Preparation

It’s time for more winter preparation. Up here in the Northern Hemisphere it is getting cooler and cooler. Winter will be here in a matter of months. It is important to have your heating system checked and ready to go. You don’t want your heat to go out on you when its cold. Here in Wisconsin it gets down to minus 30, and that’s cold. If you have electric baseboard, the first time you turn it on in the season it will probably smell like burning hair and smoke. That’s because electric baseboard gets so hot it can burn hair and dust particles that are trapped inside the fence. It’s pretty much self cleaning that way. But hydronic systems are not that hot. They don’t burn the hair and dust, so that hair and dust can cause the air to not flow smoothly between the fins. Air flowing between the fins is how the air heats up and then that’s how the room heats up.

It is very important to keep your baseboard radiator is clean. It will help the efficiency and lower your heating bills.  Just vacuuming them out will help but it is not enough. It is better to have both compressed air and a vacuum cleaner to clean the fins of a hydronic baseboard heater. Do whatever it takes to clean those fins, folks!

It is also very important to make sure you have a spare ignitor for your boiler or furnace, if your boiler or furnace is gas. Speaking of gas, if you use propane, make sure your propane tank is full. And check it once in awhile during the winter to make sure you know where the level is. It’s just not fun to run out of propane when it’s cold outside.  And if you use heating oil, make sure you don’t run out.

It is good to have a service manual always close to your heating unit, if that unit is a boiler or furnace. A great list of them can be found here Heating Service Manuals.  The most important thing that will go out, the most often, is the igniter. Some people change ignitor is at the beginning of every season. That is a good idea but I don’t know if it is necessary. I do know that making sure your filters are clean is necessary. So make sure you have clean filters at the beginning of the season and check them at least once a month to make sure they are still clean. Dirty filter is move less air through the heater and into the room. This causes the heater to work more to heat up the room to the temperature that you want.

It might also be time to replace your furnace or boiler. I highly recommend getting a high efficiency furnace or boiler, because, although they are more expensive to buy, they are less expensive to use and have a less carbon footprint. That’s more and more important. Going solar is good also if you have lots of Sun. Anything to reduce global warming is good. Good for your world and your children and your environment and your own life. Go green wherever possible!


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Preparing for cold weather

Preparing for cold weather.

In the Northern Hemisphere cool and cold weather is approaching. You have to make sure that whatever heater you have is going to be working when you need it. You don’t want to wait until later when you first need it and you find that it’s not working properly.

If you have a furnace or other heater that blows warm air into your living space one thing that you should do is check your filter.  If your filter is dirty, either blow it off with a compressor or the blower part of a vacuum cleaner, or replace it.  If it’s very dirty replace it.  That will extend the life of your furnace or other heater by not making it work harder than it has to to get air through a dirty filter. Make sure the cleaned or new filter is pointed in the right direction when you install or reinstall it.

If you have a baseboard heating system make sure that it is clean between the fins. This is especially needed if you have an electric baseboard system. If the fins are dirty then less air moves between them. This makes it take more energy to heat a room. So take some time and clean off your baseboard heaters. This is very important.  I use a compressor to blow the dust and hair and cobwebs out of the fins and a vacuum cleaner to catch them.  I have the compressor on the top and the vacuum cleaner on the bottom.  It takes some time but you will be surprised how much gets cleaned out.

If you have a gas boiler or furnace, it is a good idea to always have a spare igniter. They can go out anytime and if it goes out in the dead of winter, you might be screwed. Sometimes they are hard to find. And if your gas heater goes out at an inconvenient time, like a holiday or a Sunday, you might have no choice but to hire a professional who might have one in stock and that would cost a ton of money. Igniters are easy to replace, and if you have a spare one and a maintenance manual, you can save a lot of money by replacing it yourself. Just follow all the directions and make sure the igniter is air tight when you are done. You don’t want gas to be leaking through the ignitor hole.  As soon as you use your spare, get another so you always have one ready.