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Heating & Air Conditioning

ThermostatOf all the mechanical systems in a home, HVAC are arguably the most complicated, especially in newer or renovated homes. These systems are installed for your health and safety. Mould, Indoor Air Quality (IAQ), carbon monoxide, humidity levels in the home and contents, and building materials can all be associated with HVAC. It is crucial that these systems be maintained to ensure your safety and to achieve maximum
$ EFFICENCY $.

Maintenance you can do:


Filters


Depending on the number of occupants and pets, filters in forced air heating systems should be changed every 8 to 12 weeks. The idea here is to change the filter before it becomes plugged and restricts the air flow. A lack of air flow means your furnace has to work harder to maintain the desired temperature; this will reflect in your WALLET.

Note: The furnace should be turned off while changing the filter. Washable/reusable filters are available at most hardware stores for about $40 to $100. We recommend this type of filter unless someone in the house suffers from allergies or other respiratory disorders; there are special filtering systems for these cases. Consult with your family doctor / specialist or local HVAC contractor for further information.



Exhaust Fans


  • Exhaust fans are primarily installed to control the humidity in a bathroom or kitchen, and to vent odours. Newer homes have what’s called a principal exhaust fan, specifically designed to control the overall humidity levels in the house.
  • All fans have a damper located in the duct where it connects to the fan body. These dampers are notorious for being stuck closed which will prevent the fan from exhausting the indoor air. Contact the manufacturer for instructions on how to fix this problem. In most cases it’s a very simple 5 minute job.
  • Clean any grease build-up from the kitchen fan and filter. Grease build-up is a fire hazard.
  • Vacuum dust build-up from cold air return grilles. To differentiate the cold air returns from the supply outlets (diffusers), simply hold a tissue to the grille while the system fan is running. The tissue will be drawn to the cold air return grille; a diffuser will blow the tissue away. Dust build-up on bathroom fan grilles is a good sign but should be vacuumed regularly so air can flow easily. You should also remove the grille and vacuum the fan a couple times a year.
  • Check bathroom and kitchen exhaust fans, and clothes dryers to ensure they are exhausting directly to the exterior. You can do this simply by turning them on and observing the exterior vents. You should also observe the operation of the louvers or dampers for the exterior vents, they are quite often stuck but should open and close freely. Missing louvers or dampers should be replaced to prevent birds from nesting, and to reduce cold drafts from entering the house. 2nd floor fans usually vent through the roof and therefore will have to be checked by looking in the attic. We recommend that a professional inspect the attic.
  • Check and clean clothes dryer ducts and vents regularly. A build-up of lint in the duct can be a fire hazard and will also use more $ ENERGY $.



Air Conditioning / Heat Pump


  • Condenser units located outside should be level and the surrounding area kept free of any foliage. The unit should be slightly elevated from the ground to prevent corrosion.
  • The fins on the sides look like a car radiator and should be free of debris, damage and obstructions so as not to restrict air flow. The fins are very fragile and can be flattened or damaged easily. If this happens to a large area the air flow will be restricted causing the unit to work $ HARDER $. If this is the case, contact a contractor to service the unit.
  • Air conditioning units should be winterized by turning off the breaker or electrical disconnect, especially if you choose to cover the entire condensing unit outside. In the summer, turn the system on 48 hrs before operating.



Maintenance for Professionals:


  • ThermostatMaintenance on any heating system must be done by a licensed specialist. The only maintenance you should perform is cleaning or replacing the air filters regularly.
  • Oil-fired systems must be maintained annually. This is mandated in B 139. A written record of such maintenance is to be listed and kept attached to the ductwork or furnace.
  • Natural gas systems are the most commonly used today. They should be maintained and inspected at least every two years.