Being a homeowner, while rewarding, comes with many challenges and responsibilities. It can be frustrating (and costly!) to keep up with maintenance and repairs but understanding how your home works can help you stay ahead of any mishaps or malfunctions and save you money in the long run.
As the warmer weather rolls in and spring approaches, now is a great time to re-evaluate your home and become a more informed homeowner. Between heating, cooling, and plumbing, we’re discussing everything you need to know to keep your home safe while keeping costs down.
First and foremost, take the time to understand whether you have a boiler or a furnace. While their purposes may be the same, the two are quite different in how they function and how they need to be maintained.
Essentially, boilers send hot water throughout your house through radiators or baseboards and can run using gas, electricity, oil, or even wood pellets. There are a few different types of boilers: a combi-boiler that combines hot water and heat all in one, a boiler with an in-direct water heater where water is heated at the same efficiency as the heating system, and a separate boiler that only provides heat along with a separate water heater. Out of these types, the last is the least efficient option, but all of these systems usually require an annual tune-up and cleanings.
Furnaces, on the other hand, heat and circulate air through ductwork and typically run on natural gas, electricity, or propane. While these have a smaller chance of freezing in the winter, it’s crucial to ensure the ducts are sealed. If improperly sealed, these ducts can leak, causing a number of problems for your home including a reduction in heating efficiency and even increased allergy and asthma issues. While less expensive to install, furnaces require annual maintenance and require you to change their air filters monthly or quarterly.
Don’t wait until the first hot day of summer to have your air conditioning system checked! You can schedule professional maintenance and filter changing for your A/C, but there are a few things you can do on your own before turning on your cooling system for the summer. Most importantly, be sure to check the outdoor condenser and remove any debris that may have piled up in there during the winter. These obstructions can reduce airflow, leading to a reduction in efficiency and even a possible failure. Also, be sure to check if your cooling system utilizes Freon R-22, a certain coolant product that has been banned as of 2020. If your system is leaking this coolant, you should look into getting a new, approved coolant as it can become difficult, if not impossible, to get refilled.
If you don’t have the ductwork for a central cooling system, don’t worry—you don’t have to be faced with another year of window units! Ductless mini splits have become increasingly popular over the last few years as they’re highly efficient, easy to install, and cost-effective. Similar to a central cooling system, mini splits include an outside condenser and an indoor unit that typically hangs on the wall. The best part? These systems can produce hot air in the winter, too!
Although technically not part of the HVAC system, understanding how your plumbing works is crucial to maintaining a safe and happy home. Most water heaters last between six to 10 years, so if you’re not sure when yours was installed, it’s a good idea to have a plumber come and check it out. If you know your water heater falls within that range, be sure to frequently check it for leaks and rust. While water heaters are equipped with a rod inside to prevent rust, that rod can deteriorate over time, leading to leaks and potential water damage.
Be on the lookout for any signs of rust throughout your plumbing system, as this can be an early sign a leak is about to occur. This rust can be a typical orange color or may look like green or white build-up.
Understanding how these aspects of your home and how they work can save you money and trouble. Before the summer fun kicks off, be sure to take the time to have your HVAC system evaluated and make any necessary repairs.
At BDL Heating and Cooling, we provide our customers with dependable, honest service, so contact us today to get started with your HVAC maintenance!