As Canadians, one of the largest expenses comes from heating our homes in the winter months. In older homes which are poorly insulated this may come at an even larger expense. That is why it is imperative that we maintain our HVAC systems. Most furnaces are going to be fuelled by natural gas; fewer are fueled by oil and electricity these days.
How Does The Furnace Work?
Most of us will have a forced air system. This type of system recirculates air by using unheated air from the return registers which is then brought back to the house through separate ducts. The unconditioned air is heated using burners and a heat exchanger, and the blower fan beneath the unit will distribute the warm air throughout the home using the distribution ducts in the walls/floor. Each room will have its own vent where the hot air will circulate the heat in the home.
Why Are Some Rooms Warmer Than Others?
Depending on the age or size of the furnace, how well the home is insulated, the condition of the furnace, and the distance from the unit, you may notice that some areas of the home are colder than others. Before you panic, try these tips:
- Check to see if the air filter is dirty. This can impact the units’ efficiency.
- In rooms that appear to be hotter than others, try adjusting the vents to limit airflow in that room. Make adjustments in rooms that are less occupied to push air into colder rooms. Sometimes you will find that vents are closed where they should be open. Closing registers completely is not recommended because the air will then escape under the floors and into the walls through gaps in the duct system.
- Around the furnace you will sometimes see what is referred to as a damper. You can adjust the damper with the lever to allow better airflow in some areas of the home.
- Do a walkthrough of each room; remove covers and check to make sure they are connected and unobstructed. Placing furniture such as beds and dressers over registers will block the airflow.
- If your heating unit is older or had some knocks and pings then it just may need replacement.
Like most of the mechanical systems in your home, some degree of maintenance is recommended. Here are some maintenance tips to prolong the life of your HVAC System.
- Change your filter regularly. Use a higher MERV filter to promote better air quality in the home. If you are concerned about allergens then have a HEPA air cleaner installed with your furnace.
- Vacuum out your return air ducts.
- Have your ducts cleaned annually or at least every 2 years.
- Clean out your condensate lines or pump to prevent clogging or backflow.
- Change your Humidifier filter prior to each heating season.
- Depending on the age of your furnace it is recommended to have it serviced every 1-2 Years by a licensed HVAC technician.
- Do a visual inspection. Open the cover; do you see any rust or moisture? If so then call a licensed HVAC technician for further evaluation.
- When your furnace is running do you notice any leaks around the ductwork? Tape seams and joints with aluminum tape. This will enhance your units’ performance.
Most furnaces being installed are going to be high efficiency. This means that they will operate at over 90% efficiency. Some people will still have a mid-efficiency unit in use. These units typically operated at about 78%-82% efficiency. Lower efficiency equates to higher fuel consumption. Consider updating to high efficiency whenever possible.
If you are wondering the age of your system you can always reference the serial number. For most systems, you will find that it can be identified in the first or second two digits. Thus, meaning if it reads “4519078” it would be manufactured in 2019. This is not always the case but true for a lot of the major manufacturers.
More information can also be obtained online. Another way to determine the age of the furnace is to look at the venting. White (PVC) venting is an indication of a newer high efficiency unit. They started using this type of venting around 2006. Black (ABS) would indicate earlier than 2006 and metal usually is telling you it’s an older mid efficiency unit.
A well maintained furnace can last 20-25 years. Make sure to take good care of your heating system to ensure your home is properly heated during the winter months!