Tips and Tricks

As the weather gets cooler and your furnace works harder we see a rise in no heat calls. Here are a few tips to make sure you aren't stuck in the cold the winter season.

1) Change your filter. A clogged/dirty filter prevents air flow. This makes your furnace work harder therefore increasing energy consumption with a potential to burn it out.

2) Keep vents and pipes outside of your home clear from snow and debris. These often get clogged which render them useless.

3) Get your furnace serviced yearly by a reputable company. No, this isn't a gimmick. Servicing your furnace can alert you to any issues, before they happen. Keeping it clean will prevent build up that can cause breakdown in parts.

4) Ensure your thermostat is in working order. Your thermostat is what controls your furnace by telling it when it needs to fire up, turn off, etc. If your thermostat has malfunctioned, the temperature of your home could increase or decrease significantly.

5) Check your breaker panel to ensure you have power. Things happen and often we receive calls where it is a simple fix. Locate the fuse on your panel to ensure the breaker has not tripped.

6) Confirm the door to your furnace is shut. If it is not shut, a switch inside the door opening will not allow the furnace to engage.

7) Check the emergency shut off switch. There should be a light switch somewhere in range of your furnace. This is your emergency shut off switch and often homeowners will flick it to the off position without knowing its use.

What should I do if my furnace quits working?

After you have double checked all of the above, call a reputable company with reviews and recommendations. Look for the company who is willing to work for you. Ask if they have space heaters available to keep you warm until your furnace is working. You can start baking, but we only suggest this if your stove is electric.

What does a "cracked heat exchanger" mean?

If you google "cracked heat exchanger" you will see MANY posts claiming that HVAC technicians use this term when they want to fit a customer with a new furnace. Unfortunately, this could be the case for some companies, however, a reputable company will show you the crack with an explanation of why it is dangerous.

Cracked heat exchangers could potentially result in a CO leak, which as you can guess, is very dangerous. CO is labelled the silent killer. It is a tasteless, colourless and odorless gas. A heat exchanger is the portion of your furnace that heats the air. Like all other man made devices, usage will take its toll on the furnace which can result in cracks and/or holes forming. When this happens it can produce incomplete fuel combustion and unacceptable levels of CO. Not necessarily all heat exchanger cracks and holes will leak CO, but it is illegal to allow a crack to remain untouched without a red tag in Ontario.

What does a red tag mean?

A red tag is issued when any furnace, water heater or other natural gas appliance is in violation of Ontario Gas Installation Code. The program is controlled by the TSSA – Technical Standards Safety Authority. There are two different types of red tags.

Type A means that there has been a CO leak detected. The gas company is called right away and your gas is shut off immediately.

Type B is essentially a warning. Your gas is not shut off right away, but you need to have your equipment repaired in the timeline provided on your tag or your gas will be shut off.

These tags are necessary. It is the responsibility of every company who inspects your furnace to follow the rules and regulations set out by TSSA. If an immediate threat is found and a red tag is not completed, it could put you and your family in danger.

When in doubt, call an HVAC technician.