Many people enjoy the cool, crisp air of fall and relish in pulling all those sweaters and jackets out of storage. But with those warm layers, homeowners are often tempted to maximize their energy savings in early fall when it’s too cool for air conditioning but not cold enough to require the furnace.
If you’re waiting until the last minute to turn the furnace on, it’s still important to test your system as early as possible. Things can go wrong even while your furnace is on summer vacation, and you don’t want to wait until the first really cold day to find out.
The First Cycle of the Season
Before turning on your furnace for the first time in months, it’s a good idea to check the area of your furnace unit for any flammable materials. Sometimes these things get left behind during the summer months when the furnace is cool, and they could present a fire hazard during the cold, dry winter.
Next, open a few windows throughout your home, because the first cycle is liable to spread a somewhat foul odor. This is usually harmless, however — dust and lint settle on furnace heating elements all summer long, and when the furnace finally gets fired up, those particles burn quickly. The result is usually a burning smell that clears after a few minutes.
After the furnace kicks on, let it run for at least ten minutes. You’ll want to make sure any initial burning smell goes away — if not, there may be a problem with your furnace and you should shut it down immediately before calling for service. You should also listen carefully for any new or troubling sounds coming from your furnace, as these are also common signs of trouble.
Even if you have carbon monoxide detectors in your own home, you might someday find yourself in an environment with dangerous carbon monoxide levels and no alarm system. In that case, it’s important to know the symptoms and what to do.
Victims of carbon monoxide poisoning may experience dizziness, nausea, headaches, weakness, confusion or chest pain. After enough exposure, victims lose consciousness. It’s critical that everyone go outside and into the fresh air as quickly as possible, and then seek medical attention. Even if the symptoms gradually disappear on their own, carbon monoxide poisoning is a serious medical event that requires treatment.
No one should re-enter the home or building until HVAC technicians have been contacted for emergency service. Carbon monoxide may still be building up inside, and the structure will need to be completely ventilated before it’s safe to reenter.
In the common household, heating and cooling accounts for almost half of all power costs. But with the right know-how, you can stretch you climate control dollar and even take care of some of your personal routine upkeep. And since new HVAC systems and efficiency requirements are merging at an ever-escalating pace, it’s much more essential than ever to remain on top pf the most recent possibilities to make cost-efficient upgrades.