The Inside Outside Guys: Furnace Maintenance
By Ken Calverley and Chuck Breidenstein
DETROIT, September 22, 2022 ~ It was just a few decades ago that the start of school in the fall also signaled that it was time to get that fuel oil tank topped off or the coal bin filled.
With cooler weather soon to be upon us, all were thinking then about making certain the furnace had plenty of fuel. And it needed it. Most homes had a 50% or 60% efficiency furnace with a big masonry chimney running up through the center of the home.
Back then, even updated units might be the big old asbestos wrapped “Octopus” with a gas burner conversion and supply ducts, (the arms of the octopus), that carried warm air to a few floor registers throughout the first floor.
The return air “system” was a grate cut into the floor.
A 50% efficient furnace is just that; meaning half of the heat energy created burning that fuel you bought goes straight up the chimney.
The exhaust was so warm that birds would congregate on top of the flues to stay comfortable. They also would often pass out from breathing that exhaust air and fall into the chimney where they either met their demise or recovered while flying about your basement.
For most of us, those days are gone, and the old “gravity” furnaces have been replaced with forced air systems that contain a blower motor to push the air through the duct system.
That same motor that has been forcing cool and drier air through the house during the summer is now going to be asked to continue working while distributing warm air throughout the winter.
This is one of the big reasons we urge our listeners to have a trusted company perform a clean and check of the unit and the system before it really gets cold.
If you have ever been without air conditioning in the heat of the summer or your furnace in the dead of winter, you can appreciate the importance of timely service.
Two of our trusted team partners offer specials this time of year to listeners wanting the HVAC system examined by a professional technician. Sharon’s Heating and Air Conditioning in Westland and C&C Heating and Air Conditioning in Roseville are now offering what The Guys call “loss leader” service to inspect blowers and burners and electronics to assure dependable operation during the next several months.
As we have said before, it is also a good idea to use this as an opportunity to get on their radar screen in case you have an emergency need at some point. Favored prior customers always get quick service response from these companies.
Another good reason to deal with these firms might be tied to your desire for a newer, higher efficiency unit.
Their trained technicians do not do “drive-by” sizing of units. They use a scripted and thorough examination of the home and technical manuals to prescribe the best fit for your house and your budget.
The industry used to be notorious for sizing equipment based on square footage only, then offering a free sizing upgrade with an immediate purchase decision.
Professionals today will examine house insulation, orientation, layout, cubic footage, home style and many other factors to arrive at the proper size for a furnace or condenser. The professionals know that oversizing the furnace or air conditioner can lead to “short-cycling,” where the unit turns on, quickly pumps a large volume of conditioned air into the home, then shuts off only to repeat the cycle a short time later.
This type of operation shortens the life cycle of equipment, inflates your utility bill, does not allow for conditioning all the air in the home, and limits owner comfort in several ways.
Proper equipment sizing allows for quieter, less intrusive operation, longer equipment service life, and greater comfort. More complete movement of the home’s air also provides for fewer stagnant air pockets in the home and more complete filtering of the air creating a healthier environment.
Keep in mind you may be able to maintain the same efficiency you have had while gaining the benefit of a more efficient blower motor. Equipment is available today that allows these motors to run at variable speeds and to monitor system operation such that the unit might run at 50% capacity to maintain comfort rather than deliver those short-cycle blasts of air we described earlier.
Both of the firms mentioned have decades of demonstrated customer satisfaction and offer the all-important written warranty.
So, whether you are taking advantage of a clean and check or looking to replace old equipment, call one of our professionals today. They are always available at InsideOutsideGuys.com.
For housing advice and more, listen to “The Inside Outside Guys” every Saturday and Sunday on 760 WJR, from 10 a.m. to noon, or contact us at InsideOutsideGuys.com.