The maintenance of residential equipment will vary depending upon many factors such as lifestyles, house leakage, pets, carpeting, materials used in the construction of the home and external factors such as construction in the area. In all cases, it is recommended to follow the instructions of the manufacturer of your equipment. In the interest of brevity I have listed acceptable maintenance frequencies for the most common household appliances
- Replace 1” disposable filters every three months
- Replace 1” pleated filters at the start of heating and cooling season
- Replace 4” pleated filters at the start of the heating and cooling season
- Replace Space-gard filters every 8 months, but most importantly at the start of the cooling season
- Replace Hepa Filters once every 12 to 16 months
- Clean the furnace annually prior to the heating season
- Test all safeties on the furnace, inspect the venting, check and adjust the flame pattern and gas/air mixture.
- Lubricate the fan motor bearings if required
- Reprogram the thermostat for winter operation at the start of the heating season
- It is the law that every gas burning appliance be checked by a licensed technician at least once per year. This could affect an insurance claim should you ever have a fire and not be able to verify regular service and maintenance.
- Remove winter covers and clear away leaves and debris.
- Wash the coil of the outdoor section at the start of the cooling season using a garden hose.
- Power or pressure washing is not recommended as the coil can be easily damaged.
- With the power turned off, lubricate the fan motor bearings if applicable.
- Change the filter on the furnace
- Program the thermostat for summer operation and check the time of day
- Check the drain after the first hour of operation to make sure the cooling coil is draining
Heat Recovery Ventilators / Energy Recovery Ventilators:
- Remove the washable filter and clean at least twice per year (4 x’s recommended)
- Remove the heat exchanger core and clean annually
- Check the operation of the dampers
- Lubricate the fan motor if applicable (turn power off or unplug unit before working on fan)
- Clear the area outdoors for the exhaust and intake
- Check the insulation on the exhaust and intake duct and repair as needed
- If your tank is a rental, all service is performed by the gas company and there should be a label on the tank indicating who to call.
- The tank should be flushed once per year to remove and minimize the buildup of mineral scale from the water in the tank that is corrosive.
- Water heaters are virtually maintenance free, easy to operate and set temperatures
Gas Clothes Dryers:
- This appliance can require more maintenance than any other in the home due to the moisture and lint that is generated through normal use.
- No screws or fasteners can penetrate the exhaust pipe of a gas dryer. All joints in the exhaust are taped with an adhesive foil tape.
- The vent can accumulate a buildup of lint and should be inspected at least once a year and cleaned. Inspect the exhaust hood of the dryer on the outside of the home and wipe away any lint buildup.
- If a large load of laundry is requiring over one hour to dry, it is probable that the vent is clogged and restricting the exhaust.
- All gas dryers must be vented outdoors to remove the products of combustion.
- Regular service is best performed by a factory authorized representative.
High Efficiency Tank-less Boilers:
- These appliances are becoming more popular and there are a number of manufacturers on the market calling theirs “The Best” When they work they are all good. When they fail, I hope you purchased one that your contractor stocks parts for. There is nothing serviceable by the homeowner on the boiler. Most are installed to save fuel and space, yet many use a storage tank and take up more room than a conventional water heater. Minimum of one inspection per year is required. Many tank-less water heaters are installed because of the addition of floor warming or a hydronic heating system.
- All pool heaters that are outside of the home, even those in a cabana (unless the cabana is heated year round) must be drained before the freezing weather of winter.
- The exhaust vent or area around the vent hood must be kept clear at all times and vented to the outside if located in a cabana or pool mechanical room. Most companies that perform pool service will employ a technician that can service the heater in the event of a breakdown.
- Cleaning of the BBQ is a health issue except for the burner. The burner can become clogged with dirt, grease and rust and spiders love to nest on the venturie of the burner inlet. Always lift the lid before lighting and if using propane or natural gas be sure to turn off the tank or the wall box valve when not in use. Propane cylinders cannot be stored indoors, not even in a separate garage or shed.
- Remove the glass for cleaning as it becomes fogged and reinstall prior to use
- Be sure all the logs are properly positioned
- Do not burn papers or wood in a gas fireplace EVER!
- With the fireplace in operation check outdoors for a wall or roof vent to ensure the products of combustion are venting to the atmosphere.
- A popular purchase at the box stores to extend the use of your deck and patio in cooler weather. They can be connected to propane or natural gas and are safe to operate. They even have a tip feature that turns off the gas should the unit be knocked or blown over. As effective as the tip switch is the heated end can cause a serious burn or start a fire if not operated properly
- Almost all refrigerators are operated on electricity, but the newer fridges use a coil and fan in the base of the unit to reject the heat instead of the ugly coil that use to form the back of the fridge. With the coil out of sight and mind it can become clogged with dust and dirt and make the refrigerator run excessively long cycles, wasting energy and overheating the compressor. The coil needs to be vacuumed twice a year for the fridge to operate efficiently.
- Portable dehumidifiers can take a lot of load off your air conditioner and the benefit is that they operate in the basement and do not cool the basement the way central air conditioning does. If there is a drawback to this type of unit it is that the water reservoir needs to be emptied every second day in humid weather. The solution to this is to remove the tank, extend the drain hose and position the drain hose over a floor drain.
- Probably the most forgotten appliance in a home and yet the one that has to work without fail to prevent a flooded basement. The pump can be tested by filling the sump or raising the float assembly by hand. The electrical outlet that the pump is connected to should have nothing else operating on the same circuit. Many homes that need a sump pump will have two so there is a back-up on stand-by at all times and may even have the sump alarmed in case of high water. Some sump pumps can be provided with battery back up in case of power failures
- Electrical Generators are becoming very popular in areas that are prone to power failures or brownouts. When electrical power is essential to operate machinery, medical devices, refrigeration equipment or emergency lighting a generator is installed. The generator operates using an alternate fuel such as natural gas, propane, diesel fuel or gasoline to power the generator. The generator can be sized to operate specific items or an entire home or business. The generator will start automatically upon a power failure or if a portable generator is used it would have to be started manually and important items plugged into the generator outlets.
- If a portable generator is being used, be sure to keep the generator away from openings in the building that would permit the products of combustion from poisoning any occupants.
- Portable generators should be test started monthly and the gas tank kept full to avoid condensation occurring in the full tank. Additional gasoline should also be on hand in case the power outage is of longer duration than the capacity of the full tank.
- Never refill the fuel tank with the generator running or hot.
- There are limitations to the amount of power that portable generators can provide. Over loading may leave you with no power at all