Comfortable at Home
Tuesday, September 11, 2012 • 7:15pm
Fall is just around the corner and sometime in the next few weeks you'll probably go over to your thermostat and flip the switch from "COOL" to "HEAT" and fire up your heating system for the first time since last spring.
Your heating system cylces on and off 3 to 5 times an hour to keep your home at the temperature you set on your thermostat. That's 3 to 5 times an hour that a small fire is being lit in your basement, attic or crawlspace. It's really important that you make sure that your heating system is working safely and efficiently.
When the furnace is on, products of combustion are vented from the furnace out of your home. Many older furnaces vent the flue gases out of your home via the brick or masonary chimney your home was built with for such purpose. It usually shares this with your home's water heater. More modern, high-efficiency furnaces vent their relatively cool flue gases out the sidewall of your home via a PVC flue pipe. Making sure that your flue, no matter which method it employs, in free of obstrucion and drafting correctly is an important part of the heating system safety check performed that should be performed annually.
The heat exchanger is within your forced-air furnace and keeps the flue gasses separate from the air flow that is being heated and distributed throuhgout your home. It is important that the heat exchanger be thoroughly inspected to check for hole and/or cracks that could allow carbon monoxide and other prodcuts of combution to leak into the air stream and into your home. This, too, is an important part of that annual safety check that everyone should have performed on their furnace. Some HVAC service companies inspect heat exchangers with a flashlight and a mirror on a telescopic wand to look around the corner much like your dentist uses such a mirror to inspect the backside of your teeth. This method has been used for many years, but it's impossible to see all areas of the heat exchanger and be absoutely certain that nothing has been missed.
For almost 10 years now, we've been using a more advanced method of heating exchanger inspection. We spray down the outside of the heat exchanger with a flourescent dye and then inspect the inside of the heat exchanger with an ulra-violet lamp on the end of a flexible wande. The UV lamp makes is very easy to see if any of the flourescent dye has made its way through a crack or hole to the inside of the heat exchanger. Finding such a hole is reason to shut your heating system down until a repair or replacement can be made. We stand behind our heat exchanger inspections. If we report a positive indication of a crack or hole in your furnace's heat exchanger and you hire us to replace it for you, we'll replace it for free if we can't show you a hole or crack in the heat exchanger when we remove the old furnace from your home.
Regardless of the age of your furnace or other gas-burning applicances in your home, you should have a working carbon monoxide detector outside of your bedrooms and near your gas-burning appliances. CO is an odorless, colorless gas that can make you very ill or even kill you.
So, BEFORE it's time to light that small fire in your furnace, have your heating system tested and inspected and make sure your CO detectors have fresh batteries and are in good working order.
Bobby Ring is President/CEO of Meyer & Depew Co. Heating & Cooling. http://www.meyer-depew.com
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