Woman Adjusting Digital Central Heating Thermostat At Home

By this time of year people should have prepared their homes for winter, but there may be things they might have overlooked that could cost them money in the long run.

After sitting idle for eight months, most people don’t think about the condition of their heating system until it gets cold enough to turn it on, and when it doesn’t, people can be left in the cold — literally — until a repair crew arrives.

Kip Turner, owner of Climate Controllers, recommends annual 17-point inspection home heating system. He said he begins advertising the inspections in late summer and early fall. Turner said he typically does about 300 such inspections a month on furnaces, heat pumps and other heating and cooling systems.

“Experts check in places that could be unsafe,” Turner said. “They check from top to bottom.”

The inspection includes electrical connections, possible gas leaks and the condition of ducts and filters.

One potential problem Turner sees is people storing boxes and other clutter, including gas cans, near a furnace. The area around a furnace should be clear to prevent potential fires.

The most common problem Turner said he sees during an inspection is dirty air filters, which can affect how efficiently a furnace works and how effective it is at heating a home.

“In some homes, the filters need to be changed four to six times a year,” he said. “In other homes they might only have to be changed once every six months.”

The risk of not having an annual inspection is when something goes wrong and the homeowner is without heat until a repair crew arrives.

The risk of a furnace malfunction that causes a fire is low. Turner said there are many fail-safe systems that will shut down a furnace before it causes any serious problems.

As for air conditioners, Turner said homeowners don’t have to do anything to winterize them because they are used almost year round.

“If it’s not running, it’s no big deal,” he said.

Keeping the drain line clear on air conditioners is important. When those lines are clogged, Turner said he uses pressurized nitrogen, followed by water to clear the obstruction.

Andee Stossmeister, an employee at ACE Hardware, said homeowners should cover outdoor pipes with pipe insulation to protect them from the freezing temperatures we see each winter.

It’s also an ideal time to check the weather stripping and the bottom of entry doors to ensure they have a tight fit.

Caulking around windows and doors will stop leaks and save energy costs.

There are some things that can’t be brought indoors, such as plants and shrubs. Stossmeister recommends plant blankets to help protect plants and shrubs when the temperature drops below freezing.

“It’s a good time of year to be winterizing your home,” she said.