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Homewerx Home Inspection

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(480) 503-2611

Outside the Phoenix-metro area, call toll-free:

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...proudly serving Arizona since 1999

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Fireplace Safety
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Heating Systems
Electrical Systems
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Water Heaters

 

Heating Systems
Now that colder weather is upon us, it is time to make sure your heating system is ready.   There are several types of heating systems available.  In the Valley, however, we mainly see gas furnaces, electric (resistance) furnaces and heat pumps.  Since it is most likely that you have one of these three types in your home, we will give you a few tips to help you maintain safe and reliable heat all winter long.
Gas Furnaces
Many people prefer gas appliances to electric ones.  Gas has been proven to be an economical and reliable source of energy.  However, if these appliances are not properly maintained, gas can be deadly.  Regular maintenance is important to insure the safety of the occupants in homes with gas appliances.  Annual inspections are the best way to identify problems before they pose a safety risk.  Some gas companies will perform an annual check for gas leaks free of charge, while others will refer you to a professional who will charge a fee.  Even with regular servicing, unsafe conditions can develop at any time.  Since natural gas is colorless and odorless, the gas company has added an ingredient that smells like rotten eggs.  If you smell this odor, open the windows to prevent accumulation of gas, leave the property and call the gas company immediately.
Unfortunately, gas leaks are not the only danger with gas appliances.  Improperly adjusted and damaged burner assemblies will produce carbon monoxide.  Regular inspections should also identify these conditions.  CO is also a colorless and odorless gas which, in large enough quantities, can cause death.  Some of the symptoms of CO poisoning are headaches, dizziness, shortness of breath and drowsiness.  If your home is equipped with gas appliances, a carbon monoxide detector may help prevent a tragedy.  It is also important to change or clean the filters monthly.  This will help with indoor air quality and reduce stress on the system.
Electric Furnaces
Electric furnaces are more efficient than gas, however, electricity is more expensive.  This is probably the main drawback to electric heat.  Although electricity may cost more than gas, these systems are often much more efficient and economical to operate because heat is not lost up the flue.  Electric heat can also be safer.  Because no combustion is taking place, the electric furnace does not pose a risk of CO poisoning.  Regular inspections should be performed to identify possible problems.  Changing or cleaning the filters monthly will help with indoor air quality and reduce stress on the system.
The real danger to electric heat is the space heater.  These appliances are nice because they can direct instant heat on your favorite lounge chair.  But if placed too close to furnishings like draperies, they can cause a fire.  Many units can reach temperatures as high as 400 degrees.  Most newer space heaters are equipped with a device that will turn them off if tipped over.  This feature needs to be tested regularly to insure safe operation.  If it fails, the heater should be replaced.  Many of these space heaters also pose a burn risk.  Be especially careful when using these heaters around children!  When selecting a space heater, you should choose a name brand.  Check with the Consumer Products Safety Commission for bulletins on unsafe and recalled items at www.cpsc.org.
Heat Pumps
A heat pump is a system that transfers heat from one place to another.  In the summer, heat is collect from inside and deposited outside.  In the winter, heat is gathered from outside and transferred indoors.  This type of system works well in mild climates.  However, a back up system for both heating and cooling are often needed for extremely hot or cold spells.  When operating a heat pump, never change from the heating mode to the cooling mode or vice versa without shutting the system off for at least 20 to 30 minutes first.  Changing modes without letting the system equalize can cause damage to the system.  Like gas and electric furnaces, heat pump maintenance involves regular inspections and frequent changing or cleaning of the filters.

If you have any questions or concerns, contact a professional.

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