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Fall and winter weather in Maryland are undeniably volatile, with cold streaks and moderate temperatures that seem to come at random. Because of these inconsistencies in temperature, it’s always important to have your heating system running smoothly to ensure proper operation and the perfect home comfort level. If you don’t maintain your heater, it can directly affect your energy costs and cause problems and headaches throughout the season. However, this doesn’t have to happen to you. By following a few tips, you can keep the heater in your Columbia, Maryland, home in tip-top condition all year long.

Replace the Furnace Filter

One of the easiest, cheapest, and most effective ways to maintain the health of your furnace is by replacing the furnace filter. This filter is responsible for removing dust and dirt from the air in your home. Keeping it clean minimizes hazards and has a number of benefits. The first advantage is that it extends the life of your HVAC system. When filters get clogged with dirt, they cause the furnace to work harder, and many times this causes the unit to overheat and break down more quickly. Another benefit of keeping you filter clean is that it keeps your energy costs down. If there’s no debris in the filter, air can pass more freely, allowing the furnace to function at a higher efficiency while cutting bills in the process.

In addition to these monetary benefits, changing your furnace filter regularly also improves indoor air quality and keeps air ducts clean, especially if you have pets or indoor smokers in your family. With a clean system and home, you won’t have to worry about excessive maintenance costs, and you’ll gain some peace of mind knowing that your heater will function more effectively throughout fall, winter, and early spring.

Familiarize Yourself With the Components

Another important part of heater maintenance and efficiency starts with learning the various components of your furnace. Without diving into technical jargon, the furnace is essentially five parts: the burner, flue, heat exchanger, blower, and plenum. The burner is the portion of the furnace that mixes the air and fuel and uses a pilot light or electric spark to produce heat. As this mixture burns, it produces hazardous chemicals, which the flue diverts outside of the home. Once air enters the furnace, it passes over the heat exchanger, which is a set of tubes that warms the air. The blower forces the air to the plenum, which is where the ducts to the home attach.

The reason it’s so important to understand these components is because it gives you a basic idea of what problems may arise with your furnace. If you smell fumes, it’s probably your flue. If your furnace is on but there’s no flow from your air vents, it’s the blower. The more you learn about your furnace, the easier it is to explain to a technician where the problem stems from.

Invest in a New System

Like any other part of your home, your heating system has a lifespan. Typically, the life of your heater will range from 10 to 20 years depending on the quality of workmanship. Units that are older than this age range require more frequent repairs, which sometimes outweighs the cost of a replacement system. For example, if you have to incur maintenance costs of $1,500 a year on an older system, and a new system costs $3,000 including installation, it may seem as though it’s a sunk cost. However, new systems are far more efficient and don’t need as much maintenance to keep them in top-notch condition. After just a few years, you’ll recoup the costs and appreciate your sound investment at the same time.

Check Your Thermostat

Although the thermostat is the smallest component of your HVAC system, it’s one of the most crucial. Older or outdated thermostats don’t have the accuracy afforded to newer smart thermostats. Not only are smart thermostats a better way to keep a constant temperature, but they prevent your heating system from working overtime. They also provide a plethora of other benefits including seven-day program settings, friendly reminders to change your filters, a vacation mode, outdoor temperatures, and Wi-Fi compatibility, which allows you to set your temperature from anywhere you have an internet connection.

To make matters easier, our technicians can easily install the new thermostat in just a few hours, giving you a brand new toy that improves your overall quality of living. Even those that don’t have much experience with technologically advanced equipment can handle these thermostats. The result is a home that’s always at the perfect temperature, even if you aren’t home to set it yourself.

Inspect the Fan Belt

Another way to improve the efficiency of your heater and keep it functioning at a high level is to inspect the fan belt. This belt is responsible for turning the fan, which blows hot air through the vents into your home. When you check the belt, inspect it for cracking or fraying. If you locate any wear, go ahead and replace the belt instead of risking it going out in the dead of winter.

Other Things to Look For

While some features are easy to inspect and bring up to standard, keep your eyes open for less obvious ways that your furnace may start to fail you. One of the most noticeable symptoms that your heater is suffering from subpar performance is the obvious sign of corrosion around the burner and flame shield. When you’re inspecting this portion of the heater, you should also make sure that the pilot light not only lights, but maintains a flame for an extended period.

Outside of the actual unit, you should check your air ducts for gaps twice a year. If your ducts have any holes or separation, heat that normally flows into the home gets lost into the crawl spaces, attic, or exterior of the home. When that happens, your heating efficiency suffers immensely, causing the heater to work harder. This not only reduces the lifespan of your home, but it can also increase your monthly energy bills.

Get an Annual Maintenance Checkup

Now that you’ve done some simple maintenance, it’s time for a professional to put the finishing touches on your heater maintenance. We offer comprehensive maintenance for gas, electric, and oil heating systems, and our crew are some of the most highly trained in the industry.

During our tuneup, we’ll make sure that your heating system is in exemplary condition. To start, we’ll adjust the burner for maximum efficiency. That way, you won’t have to lose money or comfort from an ineffective blower. The next part of the process requires lubricating fans, motors, circulators, and bearings so they glide easily without causing extra wear and tear.

Next, we’ll replace the oil filter and nozzle, test and adjust all safety and operating controls, and inspect the flue pipe and combustion chamber. Once we’re finished, we’ll supply you with a report that shows the current state of your heating system, advising if it’s time to replace certain components or get a new system altogether.

Your heating system is one of the most important components of your home in winter, especially when you factor in comfort and safety. That’s why it’s so important to make sure that it’s functioning before the extreme temperatures hit. If you need an expert to inspect, repair, or maintain your heater, don’t hesitate to call the pros at Griffith Energy Services, Inc. at 888-474-3391. With our highly trained staff, we’ll have your system up and running in no time at all.

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