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Boy, does it seem like summer sped through so quickly! It’s hard to wrap our minds around the official onset of fall on September 22!
And yet, ready or not, here it is. Before too much more time passes, we will be switching off our air conditioners and powering up our heaters instead.
This brings up a very important question: Is your furnace ready to return to the spotlight for winter?
Will you feel safe and secure when you switch your HVAC system from “cool” to “heat” and send that first rush of warm air whooshing through your home?
In this article, we review the safety steps to take to make sure your heating system operates safely, efficiently, and affordably this fall and beyond.
Furnace Maintenance for Safety & Efficiency
Whether your furnace is shiny and new or gently used, the best way to start the fall season is always to ensure these two statements are accurate:
- Your fall and winter energy bills reflect the most efficient furnace operation.
- Your home and family are in no danger when you power up your furnace.
For most people, the best way to ensure safe, efficient furnace operation is to schedule an annual furnace inspection and maintenance service appointment.
This affordable service ultimately saves you money on winter energy bills and—a priceless benefit—puts your mind at ease about the safe operation of your furnace appliance itself.
Furnace Must-Do Safety Checks
You can complete some of these safety checks on your own if you feel comfortable to do so. For other safety checks, you may want to have your service technician perform them for you.
1. Clear a path all the way around the furnace
For most people, during the warm season, it is all too easy to permit debris or stored items to pile up quite close to the furnace.
While there isn’t really any danger during the summer when your furnace is inactive, when you are ready to use it again, it is imperative that the area all around the unit is completely clear of debris and stored items. Otherwise, if your unit malfunctions for any reason, there is the risk that a stray spark may ignite nearby flammable materials and cause a fire.
It is also very important to keep the area around the furnace clear so the vents don’t get blocked. If the unit cannot get the air it needs to operate, you face both a fire risk and an indoor air quality hazard.
2. Check your smoke and carbon monoxide detectors
Smoke and carbon monoxide detectors are important home safety tools year-round, and especially in the fall and winter, when your furnace is operating.
Each year, far too many carbon monoxide poisoning incidents happen simply because the home either did not have a carbon monoxide detector or because the unit wasn’t operating properly.
The same holds true for your home’s smoke detectors. You will want to verify that the smoke detector batteries are fresh and that the units are operating as they should.
3. Change the air filters
Every furnace should start out the fall and winter season with a new air filter. During the months of heavy use, the air filter should be changed at least monthly, and more frequently if usage dictates.
With a clean air filter in place, you won’t have to worry that trapped dust and debris will back up inside the furnace and cause a fire hazard. You can also look forward to breathing much cleaner, fresher indoor air when you change the furnace filter frequently.
4. Establish furnace safety household rules
Often, parents assume children are too young to grasp the basics of furnace operation or understand warning signs.
But give them a chance, and your children may surprise you! The truth is, every family member should know how to shut off power to the furnace. Every family member should know it is a serious matter when the smoke alarm or carbon monoxide alarm goes off.
Every family member should know to give the furnace a wide berth, and not to touch it, play near it, or pile up stored items near to it.
5. Keep the exterior of your furnace unit squeaky clean
Finally, before you power on your furnace for the first time, it is always a great idea to give it a thorough fall cleaning.
This can include clearing debris from around the unit (including overhead), dusting and wiping down the unit case and visible components, ensuring the vents are clean and clear, and vacuuming away dust from visible interior components that can be reached with a hose vacuum attachment.
Annual Furnace Inspection & Maintenance Service
Scheduling your furnace’s annual inspection and maintenance service can detect and repair small issues before they can turn into major repairs or pricey surprise outages.
For example, if your service technician discovers a small part is loose, broken, or in need of lubrication, this timely detection can go a long way toward ensuring you never have to make that weekend, night, or holiday call for emergency furnace repair service.
As well, making these minor repairs and adjustments on an annual basis can reduce the amount of energy your furnace draws to do its job, keeping your energy bills lower during the entire winter season.
Give Us a Call
Here at Shipton’s Heating & Cooling, our family has enjoyed nearly a century of living and working alongside yours in the Hamilton and surrounding areas.
Give us a call at 905-549-4616 to schedule your furnace’s annual inspection and maintenance service, and enjoy cost savings and peace of mind all winter long knowing your furnace is operating as safely and affordably as it possibly can!
Air filters aren’t really a glamorous topic.
Plunking down the kind of money it takes to upgrade to a whole new HVAC/furnace combo—well, that is really a conversation starter.
But A/C or furnace filters...well...bleh. Generally speaking, they’re just not too exciting to discuss.
Unless, of course, you know something most people don’t, which is that the air filter you choose for your air conditioner and furnace can make all the difference between how healthy and budget-conscious your investment in a new HVAC/furnace combo really becomes!
In this post, we take some time to review the different air filter materials, how they function, and how well they clean and filter your indoor air.
P.S. At the end of this post, learn how you can qualify for a FREE air media cleaner that can effortlessly clean and filter all the air in your home!
5 Main Types of Air Filters
These are the five main types of air filters in use in homes and workplaces today. Each of these filters works with your home’s furnace and HVAC system to filter and clean your indoor air supply.
If you have a choice between cellulose and fiberglass, pick the latter. Because cellulose filters are made of plant fibers, manufacturers have a much harder time ensuring consistency from filter to filter.
Having said that, neither cellulose or fiberglass are known to be particularly efficient at trapping small (micro) airborne particles. They are better used for filtering oil rather than air.
Reusable, washable filters can be a smart budget choice, since many can last up to five years with just routine spraying with the hose. Some of these types of filters can also be coated with a special epoxy to help trap smaller airborne particles.
Polyester material filters can last up to 90 days before requiring disposal. Higher-end polyester filters often come pre-charged to filter out smaller micro-particles than what a standard filter could accommodate.
Electronic filters, of course, require their own power source to operate. However, they can be very effective at filtering out even smaller particles from the air.
Electronic filters are a great choice if anyone in your household or office smokes, since they can filter out airborne smoke particles as well as other toxins. However, they can be high-maintenance.
5. High Efficiency
High efficiency filters are designed to filter out very small airborne particles, making many of these filters suitable for use in medical and laboratory settings as well as in your home or office.
These filters tend to look more like boxes than flat filters—they have deeper pleats and a more intricate system of fibers to do a better job of straining particulate matter out of the air as it passes through.
Which Filters Give the Best Air Filtration Results
Not surprisingly, you can expect the best results from high efficiency and electronic filters. They are deeper and have more intricate pleat systems to catch and filter out even tiny particles that could aggravate allergies, asthma, respiratory issues, skin irritations, and worse.
As the University of Illinois reports, it is this presence of pleating, and deeper pleats in particular, that can really boost a filter’s efficiency in trapping micro-particles. The pleating makes it more difficult for the air to pass through the filter, which gives the filter more time to catch particles.
The least effective filter is a fiberglass/cellulose filter, followed closely by reusable and thin disposable filters (even with pleating).
What you need to remember here is that thick (boxy) pleated filters with high efficiency ratings far outperform all other filters when removing toxic micro-particles from your indoor air.
Other Filter Benefits
Each HVAC and furnace manufacturer will issue their own guidance regarding the types of filters that work best with their products.
However, all filters will work better when they are changed or cleaned frequently. When your household includes any of these elements, you will need to change or clean your filter more frequently:
Fireplace/wood-burning stove use
Dirty air duct system
Interior renovation work
Infrequent or irregular dusting/sweeping/vacuuming
During seasons of heavy HVAC or furnace use, changing or cleaning your filter every 30 days will give you optimal filtration performance.
For an extra bonus, keeping your filters as clean as possible can also save up an estimated 15 percent on temperature control-related energy use.
Want a FREE Indoor Air Quality Appliance?
Right now, when you purchase any air conditioning and furnace combo, you can choose one FREE indoor air quality appliance that will work with your new HVAC/furnace to clean and purify your indoor air supply.
You can choose from these three appliances:
Indoor media air cleaner. This deeply pleated big-box whole-home air cleaner will take your indoor air quality to a whole new level.
Indoor U.V. Saber light purifier. Clean and purify with the power-packed punch of U.V. light.
Whole home humidifier. Keep your indoor air humidity-balanced for seasonal good health.
This special offer is available for a limited time only. To learn more and let us know you would like to take part, just fill out this simple online form!
Give Us a Call
If you are ready to upgrade your air conditioner and heating system to one of the new high efficiency units that can deliver cleaner air and lower energy costs, we are here to help!
Just give us a call at 905-546-4616 or visit us online at www.shiptons.ca.
Even the briefest glance at today’s news headlines clearly shows how little control we have over the quality of our outdoor air. Making a difference there will require worldwide accord and partnership at a level our governments have yet to achieve.
But the story looks quite different when it comes to our indoor air quality and temperature control. We have a very high level of ability to control the quality and affordability of our own indoor air.
Just having a highly rated, energy efficient HVAC system will go a long way toward protecting you and your family from many of the toxic effects of our compromised outdoor air supply. It will also help you spend less on monthly energy costs.
But when you add indoor air quality support to what your HVAC system is already providing, you double your power to ensure you and your loved ones are breathing highly oxygenated, toxin-free air. Plus, you will save even more money on energy costs!
P.S. This month, you have the chance to receive a FREE indoor air quality appliance: read on to find out how!
The Five Key Elements of Clean, Affordable Indoor Air
The following five elements are each a vital component of maintaining affordable, clean, and pure indoor air at home and at work.
1. Efficient heating
Furnace appliances are now rated based on their capacity to operate efficiently using a range of air filters. This is called a “MERV” rating, or Minimum Efficiency Reporting Value rating.
MERV ratings range from 1 to 16. The higher the MERV rating, the better filter a furnace can take.
For example, a furnace that carries a MERV rating of 16 can operate efficiently using an air filter constructed to HEPA-grade standards (HEPA, which stands for high efficiency particulate air, is the current air filtration gold standard worldwide).
2. Efficient cooling
As National Resources Canada explains, Canada regulates air conditioner efficiency using the EnerGuide label in partnership with the U.S. EPA’s Energy Star rating system.
An air conditioner will also carry an EER or SEER (Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio) rating, depending on whether you have a room-sized unit or a central A/C unit. The EER/SEER range goes from 8 to 12.
The higher the EER/SEER rating, the less energy the A/C unit will draw to produce cool air (you can read more about how SEER ratings impact your utility bills here).
Also, the higher the EER/SEER rating, the higher grade of air filter your A/C unit can take without sacrificing energy efficiency. At a SEER rating of 12, you can use a HEPA-grade air filter.
3. Adequate ventilation
Ventilation is the unsung hero of indoor air quality. Ventilation is the only way to ensure your indoor air supply remains both clean and adequately oxygenated.
But it isn’t always seasonally possible to just open a door or window to ventilate your home. Sometimes it is too cold, too hot, too polluted, or too humid outside, and using natural ventilation will worsen your indoor air quality rather than improving it.
The Government of Canada states that the best year-round ventilation solution is to use a mechanical ventilation system that integrates with your air conditioner and furnace.
This type of system integrates directly into the ductwork for a central HVAC system, working with existing air filters to completely separate stale outgoing air from fresh, filtered incoming air.
If you prefer not to use this type of ventilation system or your home doesn’t have ductwork, a great alternative is an air purification system, which uses ultraviolet light to accomplish similar air quality results.
Whether you choose a mechanical integrated ventilation system or an air purification system, your results will be the same—vastly cleaner indoor air.
4. Balanced humidity
We’ve been talking a lot about humidity over the past several months because it is all too easy to think humidity fluctuation is just something that happens seasonally over which we have no control.
Nothing could be further from the truth. Not only is control of your indoor air humidity levels possible, it is also vital to safeguarding your health and the integrity of your home.
In fact, the Canadian Centre for Occupational Health and Safety (CCOHS) cites humidity as one of the key causes of declining indoor air quality.
Too much indoor humidity can cause slime, mould, mildew, and excessive hard water deposits to form on appliances. It can also cause a range of unpleasant health symptoms ranging from temporary respiratory distress to chronic illness.
The Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC) recommends using a simple device called a hygrometer to measure your indoor air humidity levels. This can indicate which rooms may be approaching safe humidity limits and help you achieve balanced indoor air humidity levels.
We always recommend keeping indoor air humidity levels between 30 and 50 percent depending on the season and weather. Allowing your indoor air humidity level to dip below 30 percent or rise above 50 percent can potentially trigger air quality issues as well as uncomfortable health symptoms.
5. Air quality control
Air quality control is best achieved through a combination of filtration, ventilation, balanced humidity, and purification.
If this sounds like a tall order, today’s technology is more than up for the challenge and is able to meet it with great efficiency and effectiveness.
Want a FREE Indoor Air Quality Appliance? Find Out How!
This month, when you purchase any A/C and furnace combo, you will receive a FREE indoor air quality appliance! You can choose from an indoor air humidifier, a UV (ultraviolet) Saber light purifier, or a media air cleaner!
To learn more and participate in this limited-time offer, just fill out this simple online form or give us a call at 905-549-4616.