Before those cold fall nights arrive (yes, they’re coming!), call your home heating oil provider for a fall furnace inspection. A simple annual check-up can prevent unnecessary wear and tear, a costly break down, and the production of deadly carbon monoxide.
According to This Old House plumbing and heating expert Richard Trethewey, the basics for a heating oil fueled furnace and a gas fueled furnace are similar. Both ignite a mix of fuel and air in a sealed combustion chamber. Then fresh, filtered air blows across the outside of the heated chamber and into your heating ducts. And dangerous exhaust from the combustion process is vented outdoors through a flue or chimney. All components should be checked annually to be sure they are functioning properly, both for efficiency and for safety, too.
There are a couple of maintenance tasks you can do yourself.
Change the filter
You’ll want to change the furnace filter each month during the heating season. Make sure you start the season with a new one. Inexpensive fiberglass filters will do a good job protecting the blower and blower motor. If you want to install a more expensive, high-efficiency filter, read the owner’s manual for the manufacturer’s recommendations. But be aware that some high-efficiency filters can restrict airflow, straining the blower motor and making your oil-burning furnace less efficient. If you want even cleaner air, consider a separate air-cleaning system.
Adjust seasonal duct settings
Some oil furnace heating ducts also serve as air conditioning ducts. They may have dampers or regulators that require adjusting each season. Two-story homes often have separate supply trunks to serve the upstairs and downstairs, sending more warm air downstairs in the winter, or more cold air upstairs in the summer. Simply adjust the damper handle on each supply trunk to the proper setting. The seasonal settings should be marked.
Some things are best left to the professionals.
Your home heating oil furnace is a finely tuned system. And as with all types of combustion devices, varying amounts of particulate matter are created and left behind. These can build up on the ignition parts over time and can greatly reduce the efficiency of the burner. Where a blue flame is optimal, yellow flames indicate dirty burners which will cost you extra money on your heating bill. A trained professional will inspect the burner flames and make adjustments to the burners as needed.
The blower should also be removed and the blades cleaned carefully. Along with the blower mechanism, any drive belts will be inspected for cracks, the heat sensor cleaned, and moving part lubricated. On many newer oil-burning furnaces a hot surface ignitor has replaced the standing pilot light. They need delicate cleaning as they are very fragile. Definitely let the experts handle this one.
Your duct work should also be checked for leaks and back drafted if necessary, too. You definitely want to make sure the combustion fumes are going up the flue and not into the living quarters. And a check of the exhaust vent pipes can help detect any corrosion that may leakage problems.
The trained home heating oil furnace professional knows what to look for and can save you money, stress and maybe even your life.
“You wouldn’t wait more than a year to service your car,” Richard Trethewey says. “The heating system in your house is just as important.”
Don’t put your family at risk. Contact your heating oil professional at Modern Comfort for your fall furnace check-up today.
Locally-owned since 1932, Tevis Energy is proud to deliver heating oil to the homes and businesses of customers in Maryland and Pennsylvania, including Adams County, Baltimore County, Carroll County, Howard County, and York County.