Weather Updates

Tips to keep your furnace running

Updated: March 3, 2014 12:38PM

A clean furnace filter could be the difference between feeling warm and toasty or feeling left out in the cold.

The National Weather Service is predicting temperatures will remain below zero throughout the Fox Valley until Wednesday. That means furnaces will be working overtime to keep people warm.

One of the easiest ways to keep a furnace functioning properly is to change the filter, according to Ray Tatyk, owner of Rayme Heating and A/C in Elgin.

He said as rule of thumb, it is best to change the filter about every 30 days. The more pets and more people in the house, the most often a filter should be changed.

When choosing a filter, one priced in the mid-range is best. Tatyk said the pricier high-end dust and pollen filters tend to be thicker and actually block air flow. Whereas filters that cost between $8 and $10 do the job, he said.

Another suggestion is keeping the indoor temperature fairly constant day and night. While many people try to save energy by turning down the thermostat to the lower 60s at night, Tatyk said that is not the case when it’s below zero. He said in extreme cold, it is better for a furnace to switch on and off frequently to maintain one temperature than it is for it to run constantly for hours in the morning recovering from a colder nighttime setting.

“Furnaces will work harder in this weather and put more strain on older equipment,” said Mitch Zych, general manager of A.W.E. (Air Water Energy) which serves the Naperville area. He agrees that a constant thermostat temperature between 68 and 70 degrees works best.

Zych also warns people who have high efficiency furnaces to take special care to watch that the intake vent doesn’t get blocked by drifting snow or see that vent pipes aren’t covered with frost. He said business has been brisk because of the cold, and on Sunday his company replaced three furnaces.

Another problem with high efficiency furnaces is wind, said Pavlo Pruneda, manager of Air Doctor Heating and Cooling in Aurora. He said wind sometimes will whip through the intake vent and prevent a furnace from igniting. In those cases, the homeowner must wait for the wind to die down to get heat.

One of the best ways to prevent a furnace from going out when it’s so cold is a yearly furnace checkup. Pruneda said a quick check in the fall can catch potential problems before they occur in the dead of winter. He said it might be something simple as cleaning the sensors or an ignitor.

Pruneda said the downturn in the economy has many people trying to fix the problem on their own. He said more people in the last few years have been calling his business looking for parts.

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