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Now is a good time to prep your furnace for winter

By: Terry Oparka | C&G Newspapers | Published October 2, 2019

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METRO DETROIT — Don’t wait until it’s cold outside to check out your furnace.

The best time to spot any problem is now — before it’s 5 degrees outside.

David Gal, of David’s Heating and Cooling in Southfield, has been in the heating and cooling business for 33 years.

“Check the furnace filter. It’s the most simple thing a majority of homeowners neglect,” he said. “It (a dirty filter) can cause a lot of problems.”

“Anyone can do it themselves,” he said, adding that furnace filters may be purchased at any home improvement store. Simple filters should be changed every three to four months, and higher-density filters should be changed every six to 10 months, Gal said.

He recounted a story of a customer with a dirty, clogged filter that caused water on the floor, which shorted out parts of the furnace.

“Newer furnaces are a lot more sensitive,” he said.

This problem comes about when the clogged filter causes the coil to freeze, causing water to leak and pool up.

Gal said it’s also a good idea to install carbon monoxide detectors, also available at home improvement stores, to ensure poisonous gas is not being emitted from the furnace.

Newer furnaces should be inspected by a licensed and insured contractor every couple of years, and older furnaces every year, Gal advised.

Also check vents and PVC pipes to make sure they are connected properly, are not rusted and do not have holes in them so poisonous gases are vented out of your home, he said.

Steve Ford, the sales manager at Great Dane Heating & Air Conditioning in Clinton Township, advises homeowners, in addition to changing filters, to replace the humidifier pad.

Great Dane Heating & Air Conditioning has been in business for 20 years.

“Make sure nothing is blocking the vents,” Ford said, noting that routine maintenance and inspections by technicians will “ensure the warranty will be good.”  

“Also make sure the thermostat is calibrated properly,” he said. Newer programmable thermostats, which a technician can install, will adjust heat by sensing occupants.

“Why heat an empty house?” he said.

Ford said that ignoring your furnace is like “driving a car with no oil change and blowing up the motor. That’s the biggest misconception — people don’t think they need furnace inspections. See if you have any issues. It won’t run as efficiently. You caught a problem before it became a problem.

“Nobody wants to think about winter, but right now is a great time to schedule inspections, because people aren’t using their furnaces,” he said.  “Also, in many cases DTE Energy and Consumers Power will offer rebates if you show proof you had your furnace inspected.”

DTE Energy and Consumers Energy also offer rebates for various thermostats.

Ford explained that Great Dane Heating & Air Conditioning handles all the paperwork for the rebate.

He said to make sure insulation and caulking are sufficient.

“Adding insulation is a good thing,” he said. “Make sure weather stripping at the bottom of doors is sufficient, so heat stays inside.”