Check Your Heating System Before the Fall Rush

September 26th 2011
Check Your Heating System Before the Fall Rush

Last week in my Gearing up for winter article I recommended preventative maintenance for your heating systems, I thought it was appropriate to expand on that topic.

Once the cooler nights set in, heating contractors are inundated with calls from homeowners across the country eager to have their systems serviced as we switch on our furnaces after months of dormancy. Each year, at the end of the summer season, its ideal for homeowners to beat the winter rush by arranging a maintenance visit from your heating contractor, thus avoiding any unexpected surprises from your Heating System when you need it the most and of course a long wait for repair or replacement. Don't become another victim of Murphys Law.

There are many components in heating systems that require regular inspection by a licensed heating contractor to keep things working well. Typically, a heating specialist will check the heat exchanger, carbon monoxide levels, ignition system, fan, motor, bearings, belts, pumps, controls, exhaust, burners, pilot, thermostat, venting system and filters. They will make necessary tune ups and identify potential problem areas that will ensure your furnace is running safely and maximize the life of your system.

Throughout the year, homeowners should regularly replace the air filter on forced air furnaces and ensure areas around the furnace and return air grilles are clear of obstructions. I am sure many of you use your mechanical room to dry and store your sporting equipment. I would recommend that you relocate your sporting equipment to avoid causes excess humidity in your mechanical room with can cause rust to develop on your furnace's heat exchanger.

Install an Approved Carbon Monoxide Detector:

Every home should be equipped with an approved Carbon Monoxide Detector. While CO detectors are not a substitute for the care and maintenance of your heating system; they are another line of defence against CO exposure in your home that can warn you about failures of fossil-fuel burning appliances.

Potential CO sources in the home could include:

- Improper venting of a furnace and cracked furnace heat exchangers.
-  A chimney blocked by a nest, ice or other debris.
-  Exhaust fumes seeping into your home from a car running in an attached garage.
-  Using fuel-burning appliances designed for outdoor use (barbecues, camping stoves, lawnmowers and gas generators) in a closed area or by a window.
-  Combustion gases spilling into a home if too much air is being consumed by a fireplace or exhausted by kitchen/bathroom fans in a tightly sealed home.
- Carbon monoxide detectors should have the Canadian Standards Association (CSA) 6.19 standard or the Underwriters Laboratories (UL) 2034 standard. Refer to the manufacturers instructions for further details regarding proper use and placement.


1. Clock and adjust input to the manufacturer's rating plate specifications.
2. Confirm temperature rise across heat exchanger is within the manufacturers rating plate specifications.
3. Inspect and clean fan and air filter assembly.
4. Inspect filters or electronic air cleaner as applicable.
5. Inspect, adjust and clean pilot light and electronic ignition as applicable.
6. Visually inspect heat exchanger (if accessible), ensure the appropriate electronic inspection equipment is used to detect cracks.
7. Inspect, clean and adjust burners.
8. Check electrical controls wiring and controls.
9. Check proper operation of venting system.
10. Inspect thermostat - check heat anticipator at correct setting (as applicable)
11. Check condensate line/pump and secondary heat exchanger (as applicable)
12. Heat Pumps should also be inspected to insure adequate pressures, charges, and so on.