Heating Preventative Maintenance Category

Stay Safe: How to Properly Start Up Your Boiler for the Season

Starting up a boiler after summer is over involves critical maintenance checks to ensure reliability, energy-efficiency and safe operation all winter long. Because home boilers utilize flammable natural gas, high-temperature burners, and may produce dangerous combustion byproducts like carbon monoxide gas, the recommended annual maintenance at startup is not a do-it-yourself procedure. Scheduling seasonal boiler startup with your HVAC contractor allows a qualified heating technician to inspect the entire system and perform basic boiler preventive maintenance. Then, he will start the system, make vital safety checks and verify proper operation.

starting up a boiler after the summerHere are some of the items on the professional’s checklist for starting up a boiler after summer:

  • Perform a visual evaluation of the tank, cold water supply line, hot water outlet line, and all connections for signs of deterioration or water leaks.
  • Examine the gas supply line and connections for any evidence of leaks or damage.
  • Drain the boiler tank to remove mineral sediment and refill.
  • Check the condition of the boiler vent pipe and ensure that it is intact and unobstructed all the way to the exterior of the house.
  • Remove the main gas burners, clean and re-install. Also clean the boiler pilot light assembly or verify proper operation of the electronic igniter.
  • Lubricate the circulation pump motor.
  • Start the system and observe the burner flame for proper color and height.
  • Once the system is at operating temperature, verify that water temperature and system pressure conform to manufacturer’s specs.
  • Check the pressure charge in the expansion tank. Drain excess water if required and/or recharge with air if necessary.
  • Inspect pressure relief valves for leakage and test for proper operation.
  • Bleed air from all radiators in the house at individual bleed screws.

For more information and to schedule professional service for starting up a boiler after summer, in greater Cincinnati, contact Apollo Home Heating, Cooling and Plumbing.

3 Fall Home Maintenance Practices to Follow

As the leaves begin to change from green to red and orange, life starts to settle in to routine that accompanies the chillier weather of autumn.  To help avoid costly repair problems in the future, use this change of seasons as a trigger to complete some vital fall home maintenance.

The following are just a few of the top fall home maintenance must-dos:

precision tune-up for your furnace, Cincinnati, Ohio

Fall maintenance tips for your home
Source: iStockphoto

  • Inspect & Repair Your Roof.  Finding a leak in the middle of a snowstorm can mean devastating results in the long run.  Before the weather takes a turn, hire professionals to inspect your roof and take care of any weak areas or places that need replaced.  If a problem is left untreated, you could be leaving your wood, drywall, insulation, plumbing, electrical, and HVAC system susceptible to costly water damage in the future, particularly when freezing temperatures can create ice dams.
  • Get Your Furnace Debris-Free.  It can be easy to forget how important your furnace is when the temperatures are still in short-sleeved numbers, but you don’t want to put your furnace maintenance off to the last minute.  Professional HVAC experts can help you ensure that your thermostat settings are accurate, electrical connections are tight and secure, and the overall health of your furnace passes evaluation.  Taking time to do preventative checks on this vital piece of equipment will help to keep you out of the cold when the snow starts blanketing the hills of Cincinnati.
  • Seal the Gaps.  Normal wear, tear, and time can loosen the seals around windows, doors, and other places that ultimately end up becoming drafty when left unprotected.  Take a thorough inventory of the places in your home that could let the cold air in, and replace or reinforce your home’s weatherization.  Preventing drafts will help you realize a positive impact when your energy bill is kept at bay.  An often-overlooked place that produces drafts is found where electrical wires and plumbing pipes enter the home.

Feeling overwhelmed with your fall home maintenance checklist?  Contact our team at Apollo Home Heating, Cooling and Plumbing, and let us help you tick off the boxes!

Is it Time for a New Furnance in Your Cincinnati Home?

Pinpointing the best time to replace your furnace isn’t necessarily a cut-and-dry decision, sometimes typical of decisions related to heating and cooling installations in Cincinnati. Because this climate can be extremely cold in the winter, heating systems work hard. Sometimes replacement is a clear-cut necessity, but more often, it’s a combination of its performance, heating costs, and your comfort that may prompt an upgrade. Here’s how to tell if you need a brand new heating installation in your Cincinnati home.

  • installing a furnace

    Repairman servicing or repairing basement furnace unit
    Source: istockphoto

    The furnace is more than 15 years old. As mechanical systems age, they experience wear and tear, and their energy efficiency starts to drop. Although a new furnace requires a financial investment, it’s one that will pay you back in lower heating costs.

  • Your heating bills keep rising without an appreciable change in the weather or your comfort preferences.
  • The furnace starts making strange noises inside the blower compartment. They can signal motor or heat exchanger failure.
  • The furnace needs frequent repairs. When the mechanical and electrical parts inside the furnace need to be replaced with some frequency, it’s time to consider a heating and cooling installation in Cincinnati. Not only is the lack of heat uncomfortable while you wait for a repair or the replacement parts, the investment in new parts and labor may not be worth it, especially if your heating bills keep rising.
  • It has signs of rust or a cracked heat exchanger. Any sign of rust inside the blower compartment is a red flag that replacement may be imminent. If your carbon monoxide (CO) detectors go off after the furnace starts or shortly after it stops, call your HVAC contractor immediately after turning off the furnace. A cracked heat exchanger may be emitting CO in to your air.
  • Lack of professional maintenance or running your system with a dirty air filter can crack this vital part. A cracked heat exchanger almost always requires a furnace replacement, unless a warranty covers parts and labor for repairs.

If you suspect it’s time for a new heating and cooling installation in Cincinnati, contact Apollo Home Heating, Cooling and Plumbing, providing trusted HVAC services since 1910.

House Not Cooling? Check the Attic’s Insulation

If poor cooling performance is an issue, before you blame your HVAC system, check out your air sealing and insulation status first.

Insulation of attic with fiberglass cold barrier and reflective heat barrier between the attic joists

Source: istockphotos
Attic insulation in place

Heat energy is always in motion and enters a home by direct air leaks or by conduction and radiation resulting from inadequate insulation. Particularly in the attic, proper insulation forms the vital barrier to stop heat infiltration that makes your A/C struggle to keep up with the cooling load.

Many homes were built with only a few inches of attic insulation and are severely under-insulated by today’s standards. Move into the 21st century by upgrading air sealing and insulation and lower cooling costs while boosting comfort. An HVAC professional can perform an energy audit to assess the air tightness of your home as well as the amount and quality of insulation.

First, Seal Leaks

Installing new insulation doesn’t stop direct air leakage. Therefore, first locate ceiling cracks and gaps that allow hot air to flow between the attic and living spaces. Use caulking to seal around the joint between the walls and ceiling, as well as around recessed ceiling lights and any openings where plumbing pipes or vents enter the attic. Install weatherstripping to seal the attic access hatch or pull-down stairs, too.

What Kind Of Insulation?

Insulation is upgraded by adding new material atop existing layers. New layers can be of a different type, too. Most attic insulation is either pre-cut fiberglass batts—that pink, cotton candy stuff that rolls out between ceiling joists—or cellulose loose-fill, pulverized bits of paper and fabric blown into the attic by compressed air.

How Much Insulation?

Insulation’s effectiveness is rated by its heat resistance or “R-factor.” Recommended insulation is expressed by total R-value: the base R-factor times the installed depth in inches. Here in southern Ohio, the Department of Energy recommends insulating the attic to at least R38.  For fiberglass batts, that translates to a minimum of 12 inches in depth and, for cellulose loose-fill, at least 10 inches.

For more on the virtues of proper air sealing and insulation, contact the professionals at Apollo Home Heating, Cooling and Plumbing.

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