Northeast Ohio is not likely to forget the winter of 2014. Now that spring is here (at least according to the calendar) it’s time to bring together the lessons we learned from our experience with the Polar Vortex.
The first lesson is that sometimes even a perfectly functioning furnace just can’t keep up.
Since heating systems in our region are normally designed to heat down to a temperature of 5 degrees, your furnace or boiler might not be able to reach the set point you want when temperatures drop below zero. We had some homeowners with piping in outside walls that actually had pipes freeze even when the heater was working!
There’s nothing a repair technician can do, but you can do some things to help your furnace out:
- Do your best to block air leaks in your home and open doors as little as possible. Don’t use your fireplace. A fireplace typically consumes large quantities of air which ultimately have to be replaced with cold air from the outside.
- Don’t use the setback programming on your thermostat. It may be too difficult for your thermostat to keep the house at a constant temperature if it is also trying to catch up from the set back.
- Plan to add insulation or do home sealing to help your home keep the warm air inside. A Home Performance Assessment or energy audit can help you find the leaks in your home.
- Use space heaters (always according to manufacture directions) to help take the chill out. It might even be a good time to use the self-cleaning feature on your oven. But it’s not a good idea to use your oven to heat your home because that can create problems.
The second lesson is to plan for the cold.
No one expects their furnace to stop working, but of course they are just machines that will break and need replacement eventually. According to Appliance Magazine, the average age at which a furnace is replaced is 17 years. Plan ahead and purchase a couple of space heaters in case it happens to you. During the worst of the cold, some homeowners had trouble finding heaters to purchase because of the high demand for them.
The third lesson is to be realistic about the condition of your furnace.
During the fall tune ups many homeowners were notified of important, although not yet urgent, repairs that could be made to their heaters. Imagine what happened when the temperatures dropped and the system was running constantly without a break—the part finally failed at the worst possible time. “If it ain’t broke don’t fix it” isn’t a good idea when you’re talking about something as important as your home’s heating system.
So take a lesson from someone who watched this happen in home after home throughout the Cleveland area. Next winter may not be as brutal, but we know the bitter cold will come again. Don’t be caught unprepared when it happens to you. For more information about helping your home heating system deal with the bitter cold, call P.K. Wadsworth Heating & Cooling.
Kim Nemecek works at P.K. Wadsworth Heating & Cooling. After growing up in Cleveland, she lived in Florida for many years, working at an air conditioning company there. Kim has four grown children, two grandchildren and two spoiled dogs. She lives in Solon with her husband, Todd.
The opinions and statements contained in this article are for general informational purposes only and are not instructions. Only trained, licensed and experienced personnel should attempt installation/repair. The author assumes no liability for the opinions/statements made in this article. Any individual attempting a repair or installation based on this article does so at their own risk of loss.