Three Things to Check as a Homeowner

Being a homeowner can be rewarding. You can really make your living space your own by remodeling and customizing nearly every facet of the house. There’s also a certain amount of responsibility. Below are three items that you should add to your “honey-do” list today to properly maintain your heating and cooling system without having to call an HVAC expert.

Furnace Filter

Furnace filters come in many sizes with many different efficiency ratings.  A media (disposable) filter is rated by a scale referred to as MERV – Minimum Efficiency Reporting Value.  The higher the number the smaller particulates can be captured in the filter.  A Merv 8 filter is fairly standard in an inexpensive pleated type.  This filter will capture larger particulates protecting the furnace blower motor and the a/c evaporator coil clean.

A Merv 10 filter is where actual “Air Cleaning” begins.  A Merv 10 will filter approximately 85% of particles down to 3 microns in size.  These filters usually come with a cabinet that is installed exterior to the side of the furnace and the filter is generally around 5” thick and pleated.

The Merv scale goes as high as 16.  At this level the Merv 16 will remove particles as small as .03 microns at a rate of 95%.  They are also approximately 5” to 7” thick and pleated.

Another term you might come across is a Micron. A Micron is incredibly small. In fact, there are 25,400 microns in one inch and 10 Microns is the smallest we can see with the unaided eye.  A pollen particle is approximately 10 microns.

Humidifier Replacement Water Panel

A humidifier pad generally needs to be changed once a year.  This is generally a fairly inexpensive replacement item and can be done by the homeowner.  This is a good time to check the operation and do a little cleaning as well.  If the humidifier is working properly this should be a 15 – 20-minute task.

Leaking Water Heater

It is far better to have a small leak than a catastrophic rupture of the water heater in your home.  A small leak is not always something noticeable, so we should be in the habit of checking the water heater at least once a month, carefully observing all the way around a water heater is possible.  If there is a manageable leak then make sure the water is safely draining to the floor drain.

If the water heater is leaking in an unacceptable manner, then a shutdown of the system is the first item to address.  Shut off the incoming water which is generally labeled “cold” on the top or side of the water heater.  There should be a valve that can be turned or turned sideways to the pipe that will shut off the water.

Next shut off the natural gas or propane connection to the water heater.  Most gas shutoffs can be turned perpendicular to the pipe they are located in without the aid of tools.  Some of the older brass shutoffs will require an adjustable wrench to turn to a 90-degree position to the piping.

If the water heater needs to be drained, simply attach a garden hose to the drain outlet and open the drain valve to allow the water to be safely drained to a floor drain.

Now your water heater is safe and drained and it’s time to find a proper replacement.