Heating Tips For A Home

by Tobe Walter
(New Jersey)

Heating Tips For A Home

Your furnace is clean and is heating as efficiently as it should but you still need to get that heat from the furnace to your living space. The four principal methods of distributing heat through a house are hot-water heating, forced air heating, steam heating, and gravity convection. You'll probably want to leave the more complicated maintenance tasks to a service person. But there are a few things that you can do to make your heating system more fuel efficient and economical.

• Hot-water heating: In a hot water heating system, the radiators tend to fill up with air, taking the place of the heat-ed water and reducing the amount of heat available to you.

To rectify this situation, a few times a year open your radiators to let the air out. First find the valve on your radiator it may be up near the top, or toward the bottom along one side. When water starts to pour or spurt out. close the valve. A few cautions, however:
(1) do not open the valves while the heat is coming up, or you'll spray the room with hot water, steam. and hot air;
(2) hold a bucket or pail under the valve (you are going to strike water): and
(3) be careful this water is hot! The service person should maintain the pump and motor, as well as.the flow-control valve and radiator valve; look for leaks in the pipes; and drain and flush your boiler once a year

• Forced-air heating: If you have forced air heating, clean or replace the air filters near your furnace every month or two to keep your heating system at peak efficiency. It's worth doing yourself it costs too much to have an expert come to your house six to twelve times a year merely to handle such a basically simple task.

At the other end of the system. take a vacuum cleaner to your hot-air registers every few weeks to ensure that they allow free passage of air. During the service person's annual visit, make sure that he or she checks the fan blade and oils the fan bearings: and adjusts the blower operation, if necessary, checking for duct leaks and oiling the blower motor (unless it has sealed bearings).

Steam heating: If you have steam heat, drain a gallon or two of water from the bottom of your boiler at least once a month during the heating season. Otherwise. sediment will accumulate and effectively insulate your boiler from its heat source, which would be a great waste of heat, and also a source of corrosion that can eventually make the boiler leak.

Have your service person take a look at the water system in your boiler. He or she should examine the venting system for rust, and clean away dirt (especially accumulated dirt from cat or dog hairs). Whatever kind of heating system you have, use your common sense for the details: Make sure there's adequate space around the tank so that the pilot light doesn't go out. Don't paint the radiator that will insulate it and keep heat from reaching your living area.

If you are handy with tin snips, you can make a small heat deflector from any kind of sheet metal. and attach it above your radiator or heat register to channel the heat to those parts of the room you occupy most. This sort of deflector will be especially useful if your register or radiator is located below a window, since windows even storm windows lose a large proportion of heat directly through the glass. You can also purchase deflectors.

• Gravity convection systems: In these systems, found in many older homes, there is no blower and, therefore, usually no filter.

Heat simply rises from the furnace through ducts to the living spaces above. Since the furnace must be in the basement which is likely to be cold, it is especially important to insulate these ducts. If heat is lost through the ductwork before it gets upstairs, the furnace has to work overtime to keep the room temperature at the level you want. It is equally important to keep the vents and grates free of dust and debris so that the flow of heat is not interrupted. The vents, which are usually floor or baseboard registers. can be cleaned with a vacuum as you are cleaning house.

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