You’re still cranking up the air conditioner, but the chilly winter days are just around the corner. Is your heating system ready? Ideally, you get your heating and A/C system checked biannually—once in the autumn and again in the spring. Now that the kids are back into the swing of the school year, you’re starting to make holiday plans and those summer tank tops are being replaced with cardigans and boots, don’t put off having your heating system inspected. Right now is the perfect time.
Well before a qualified inspector visits your home, your heating system might be tossing up red flags left and right. Are you missing them? One of the most common causes is simply the age of your furnace or boiler. Most furnaces last around 18 years, so if it’s “of legal age,” that in itself might be cause for alarm. You don’t want to get stuck shopping for a new furnace in an emergency once yours has kicked the bucket—poor buying decisions, overpaying and failing to choose the best system for your home is bound to happen.
Here’s a quick age test if you’re not sure how old your furnace is: Does it have a pilot light? Then it’s at least 25 years old.
Suspicions on the Rise
If you’ve noticed your electric or gas bill creep up, that’s a sign that your heating system either has a problem or it’s not as efficient as it used to be. Either way, it’s an issue. Not sure if the prices are going up? Get copies of heating bills going back two years for a side-by-side comparison. While you’re at it, check your records and find out when your last furnace repair was made. If it’s been more than two years, it’s in need of at least a tune-up (kind of like your car).
Also bear in mind that if your furnace has been demanding oodles of repairs in the past two years, it might be about to give out for good. The closer a furnace is to a breakdown, the more repairs it demands—and the older it gets, the tougher it is to find replacement parts. It might be better (financially) to replace instead of continuing to repair.
Your thermostat should be keeping you cozy, but if you’re constantly adjusting it, that might be a symptom of a heating system unable to properly distribute air. However, in some instances, that’s the least of your troubles. Check the burner flame and see if it looks yellow or if it’s flickering—a proper flame should be blue and steady. If it’s not, that might be releasing carbon monoxide. This demands an instant inspection from a pro.
Don’t wait for the first snow dusting or freezing night to find out (the hard way) your heating system is on the blink. Preparation is key to a warm, comfortable winter.