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Air Quality
Furnace FAQ
October 28, 2013
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Heating season is just beginning but the questions about furnaces are rolling in!  We thought it might be helpful to post and answer some of the most frequently asked questions about heating season and equipment.  Here we go!

1. Is it safe to turn my furnace on before maintenance has been completed?  The answer is YES!  A good cleaning and tune-up on the furance is needed to keep it running as efficiently as possible.  However, it’s not necessary to have this service done before the furnace is turned on for the first time each year.  It’s just important that it’s done once a year.  We actually recommend turning the furnace on before it gets too cold outside.  That way, if there is a problem with the furnace and you are without heat, you can get it taken care of before it’s really cold.

2. There was an odor when I turned my furnace on the first time.  Is this normal?  Dust will collect and settle in the furnace during the summer months when it is not being used.  When the furnace is fired off the first time, the dust will burn off the heat exchanger.  Some people describe it as a burning smell.  This is normal and will go away after the furnace has cycled a few times.  If an odor continues though, it’s best to get it checked out.

3. How often do I need to change my filter?  Is it the same filter that I changed for the air conditioner?  An HVAC system consists of a furnace (either gas or electric) and either an air conditioner or heat pump.  Each system has a filter that needs to be changed regularly.  It’s the same filter whether you are using the furnace or air conditioner.  If you have a 1″ filter, it’s recommended to check the filter once a month and change as needed (usually once a month or once every other month).  If you have a media filter- 4″ or 5″- it is recommended to check the filter every 3 months and change as needed.  Changing the filter is very important!!  A dirty filter can restrict air flow enough to make the furnace or air conditioner stop working.

4. I have a heat pump and a furnace.  Do I need to turn the heat pump off and furnace on?  All you need to do is turn your thermostat to Heat.  Your heat pump will turn on in heating mode.  Your heat pump will heat the house until it reaches a certain temperature outside.  This is called a set point and is already set on your heat pump.  For example, if your set point is 32 degrees, than once the outdoor temperature gets that cold, your furnace will automatically turn on.  If you have a gas furnace, your system will automatically switch from using the heat pump to using the gas furnace.  If you have an electric furnace, the furnace will kick on at the same time to help the heat pump maintain the indoor temperature.  This is all done automatically so there’s nothing you need to do to make this happen!

5. There seems to be something wrong with my furnace.  What do I do?  There are a couple of things that you can do on your own.  Check your filter.  If the filter is dirty, change the filter, then turn the furnace off and back on.  Also, check the batteries in your thermostat (if applicable).  If the thermostat screen has gone blank, it could just be batteries.  If you still have a problem, then give us a call and we’ll be happy to set up an appointment.

If you still have a question about your furnace, please don’t hesitate to ask!  We want you to stay warm and comfortable in your home.