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Living Smart: Furnace Maintenance

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By Angie Hicks

—Make sure the condensation drain for your home’s air conditioner, furnace or heat pump isn’t clogged. An obstructed drain can cause water damage, high humidity and mold or bacteria growth.

—Check startup and shutdown controls. The start and stop cycles, usually based on thermostat settings, should be checked to make sure the system is operating properly and safely and heating as programmed.

—Check, clean or replace the air filter.

—Inspect exhaust outlets. Improper exhausting may cause a dangerous buildup of carbon monoxide or other gases. During a seasonal maintenance tuneup, the chimney flue or vent stack should be checked to ensure there’s no corrosion, leaks or back drafting.

—Check fuel lines and connections and burners and heat exchangers. Leaky or disconnected fuel lines or connections present a safety risk and lower system efficiency. Burners with accumulations of soot and cracked heat exchangers also compromise a system’s energy efficiency.

Aside from scheduling an expert inspection and tuneup, there are several things you can do to improve your system’s efficiency:

—Replace filters regularly. Experts recommend changing them at least every three months, but your system may require more frequent changing. A clogged air filter will restrict air flow, causing the unit to work harder. This reduces its lifespan and raises your utility bills. If you’re unsure how to deal with the filter, ask for help from your HVAC contractor during the routine maintenance visit.

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