Getting The Most Out of Your Heating and Cooling

In Fall & Winter on October 3, 2011 at 3:06 pm

Did you know that if your house has old radiators it’s okay to paint them? But too much paint, meaning too many layers, will not only hide some of the beautiful, decorative details in those radiators, but will also cut down on the heat transfer.

If you want to remove all that old paint, one way to do it is to remove the radiator and rent a sandblaster to clean it. Better yet, take that radiator out to the garage and use a chemical paint stripper to remove all that old paint. Remember to contain the mess since in all likelihood the paint contains lead.

I see a lot of people with steam heat putting radiator covers over and around their radiators to try and conceal or decorate them. Anything you use will cut down on the efficiency of the radiator. One thing you can do is to wrap cardboard in aluminum foil and slip it between the radiator and the wall, you’ll just be radiating more heat back into your house.

If you hear banging pipes with your steam heat, it’s probably because one or more of the radiators are sloped improperly. If the radiator settles and slopes away from the valve, it will trap steam that condenses, causing other steam to back up. This causes the knocking and clanging noises. To correct the problem, put a level on each radiator making sure it’s properly pitched and, if not, tap shims under the two legs farthest from the valve.

If you hear hissing sounds from your radiators, don’t throw a “hissy fit”. Hissing sounds are normal, but only intermittently and only from the vent. After the steam rises, the vent should close. If it continues to hiss, it may need replacing. If it never hisses, it may be stuck and you probably aren’t getting heat from the radiator. It may need to be soaked in vinegar to clean it or it may need replacing.

Did you know that when a heating contractor tells you your heat exchanger is cracked and you’ll need a new furnace, means it’s going to be a negative cash-flow day.

Understand that the air you breathe never comes in contact with the actual flame. The flame is inside a metal chamber called the “heat exchanger” and the air you breathe is circulated around the outside of the exchanger and heated through conduction. When the heat exchanger cracks, it could leak carbon monoxide into the air you breathe. Your furnace should be inspected annually. You should also install smoke/carbon monoxide detectors throughout your house. Don’t forget to replace the batteries when you reset your clocks in the fall.

Did you know that you could get more efficiency and save money on your heating bills if you check and replace furnace filters frequently? A dirty filter restricts airflow. Also, if your furnace has a fan belt, check the tension. If it’s too loose the motor will still turn but it will pull less air through the system. If your blower has oil cups, keep that motor oiled.

If your heating bills are too high, it’s a good idea to add air combustion from the outside. An excellent, inexpensive product is Equaliz-Air (available on line at www.equaliz-air.com or by calling 734-462-1033). Also install a humidifier or make sure the one you have is clean and operating properly. Adding humidity to dry air makes you feel warmer. Don’t forget to close dampers in ductwork to unused rooms and close the registers in those same rooms, and that my friend is not a lot of hot air.

If your house has air conditioning, do not cover your air conditioning compressor. Although experts differ, it is generally accepted that the compressor unit is designed to be outdoors; covering it could accelerate rust and corrosion while providing a home for field mice and chipmunks that cannot forage for food in the severe weather. At that point the wire insulation in the unit looks like dinner to those little critters.


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