Spring Maintenance and Next Winter Planning

Well, I do believe that we can consider Winter officially over!! And what a beautiful spring it has been. The grass is very green and the mountains are shedding their bleak appearance as the leaves begin to appear. Spring flowers are blooming. We’re not short of rain so far this spring. With one exception it’s been a mild winter with little to no snow.
As less heat is required to keep your home or business in the comfort zone it’s time to schedule needed service and maintenance to ready the heating system for next winter. If the plan is to upgrade the furnace, boiler or the distribution system now is the time to consider options before the fall rush. What fuel will you use, what equipment is available, how can the distribution system be improved, what money will be budgeted for the project, is financing needed. Schedule a meeting with a HVAC or Alternative Energy Heating Professional (call us if you like) and let them know what your thinking. There are lots of options out there. They’ll provide choices that will fit your life style and budget.
If you have a ducted warm air system with air conditioning or a ductless AC/HP unit it’s time to clean or replace the filters so the equipment will operate efficiently during those hot summer days. Filters need cleaned or replaced in the spring before the Air Conditioning season and in the fall before the Heating season. It is simple to do and very important to obtain the highest efficiency and the maximum life of the equipment. If you are using one of the newer Wall Thermostats, it can be programmed to provide a reminder every spring and fall to Clean or Change the Filters. If you have an electronic filter, when washing them, always be careful of the ionizing wires in the electronic filter cell as they are very brittle. Be sure to allow time for the filters to dry completely before reinstalling them in the filter housing and turning on the power!
To continue to operate at maximum efficiency and reliability, an Oil Burning Boiler or Furnace needs to be cleaned every year in the spring if turned off for the summer months or in the fall if used during the summer months to heat domestic hot water (boiler).
If you own a Gas Stove turn off the pilot light, remove the glass and clean. It is usually just dusty. A clean burning Natural or Propane Burning Gas Furnace or Boiler, in general, requires no yearly cleaning maintenance.
If you burn Coal it is very important to service the unit in the Spring immediately after it is shut down for the summer season. Coal produces a small amount of noncombustible fly ash when it’s burning. If fly ash is mixed with water (humid air or rain) it produces hydrochloric and sulfuric acid which will eat thru black steel smoke pipe by the next heating season and cause wear and tear on the coal burning equipment. If you have a coal stoker boiler that heats domestic hot water all summer it’s ok to wait till the fall to shut it down to clean because as long as there is heat in the unit no degradation will occur. In addition, if the coal burning unit is vented into an insulated stainless steel all fuel chimney, a brush will be needed to clean it and then, install a cap on the top so rain water can’t enter. It is imperative that the coal stove, smoke pipe and SS chimney be cleaned shortly after the unit is shut down. Sweep out the ashes, clean the glass, disconnect the smoke pipe and brush it out.
A wood and pellet stove is a different story because rain water or humid air won’t affect the life of the chimney, smoke pipe or stove. Before next heating season remove all ash from the stove, clean the glass, brush the smoke pipe and chimney. If you burn pellets watch for those low summer prices so you can stock up for next year.
If you burn wood beyond sweeping/cleaning the stove, smoke pipe and flu, this is the time to cut and split wood so it is seasoned by fall
We wish you the best summer ever!!

Curt Bierly is president of the bierly group incorporated of which Stanley C. Bierly is a division. He graduated from Penn State with a BS in Mechanical Engineering and is the chair of the Penn College HVAC Advisory Board. You can contact him at cbierly@bierlygroup.com