CONTRIBUTED CONTENT — With leaves displaying vibrant shades and morning air turning crisp, there’s no mistaking that Southern Utah is gearing up for another winter. Before firing up the furnace this year, the experts at S&S Mechanical Contractors are recommending the importance of a tuneup.
Trevor Eaton, comfort consultant at S&S Mechanical Contractors, told St. George News that all residential heating systems need maintenance to ensure they are working properly after months of inactivity. The best time to get it checked is in the fall, right before temperatures drop and regular use becomes a necessity. They have also provided some general related tips for homeowners.
Removing dust, lint and objects blocking air flow in the vicinity of a home’s furnace is essential. Replacing filters every 30 to 60 days will help the system operate more efficiently.
Furnaces should have several safety features and the ability to shut themselves down if conditions are less than optimal, Eaton said. Before lighting, a reliable furnace will verify that it has a gas supply, a flame and a way for exhaust to leave the house.
“When we service, we check all those safety features to make sure they are working properly and you aren’t left without heat,” he said.
The silent killer
As a byproduct of incorrectly heating a home, carbon monoxide gas occurs when combustion doesn’t happen completely or properly. It’s odorless, colorless and can only be detected by carbon monoxide alarms, which experts recommend replacing every 10 years at most.
“If it’s older than that, it might not be protecting you at all,” Eaton said.
In excessive amounts, carbon monoxide poisoning can cause sickness and may even lead to death. Having at least one functional carbon monoxide detector in the house and scheduling annual maintenance for the heating system is the best way to stay safe.
Don’t be left in the cold
In a furnace, the heat exchanger separates the air being breathed by occupants from the combustion process. However, the heat exchanger becomes prone to cracking as the system ages.
If the heat exchanger is cracked, furnace exhaust could mix into the air and enter the house, creating unpleasant and harmful fumes. The only options a homeowner has once a crack is confirmed are to replace the heat exchanger or potentially the entire furnace.
“The best way to check and make sure your heat exchanger isn’t cracked is to have one of our technicians come out and do a tuneup,” Eaton said.
Furnaces vs. heat pumps
Many people aren’t aware of the difference between a furnace and a heat pump, Eaton said, and which is the better option for their house. Most modern homes use one of these two heating systems.
While a furnace uses gas to heat the air, a heat pump works similarly to an air conditioner, but in reverse. A heat pump reverses the flow of refrigerant, pulling heat from the outside into the home. Even if the weather is cold, heat pumps can still absorb warmth and bring it inside.
Examining utility costs helps the experts at S&S Mechanical Contractors determine which of the two is a homeowner’s best option.
The ideal temperature
Eaton recommends homeowners set their thermostats to 68 degrees during the winter. This moderate temperature uses less gas or electricity, depending on what type of heating system a house has, and results in lower energy bills. Setting it several degrees below 68 at night or while no one is home can save even more.
Heat loss is inevitable even with industry-leading insulation. But the lower the interior temperature, the slower the heat loss – and the less energy used by the home.
“If this isn’t your ideal temperature, putting on a jacket or blanket is a lot cheaper way to stay warm in the winter,” Eaton said.
Annual maintenance is crucial to ensuring a home’s heating system will run not only smoothly but safely, all winter long.
To learn more about the products and services offered by S&S Mechanical Contractors, call or text 435-994-TIPS (8477), and to schedule a visit from one of their “Trust Certified” technicians, go to their website or call 435-628-4334 .
Written by ALEXA MORGAN for St. George News.
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- S&S Mechanical Contractors | Address: 4008 S. 1630 East, Suite 3, St. George | Hours: Monday-Saturday, 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. (24/7 service) | Telephone: 435-628-4334 | Website.
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