Maintenance requirements for modern heating systems may not involve as much of a homeowner’s time and effort as years ago, but there are still some basic maintenance issues that need to be addressed to help ensure your system will operate properly when needed.
Ideally all heating systems should undergo a preseason maintenance check. Some steps are relatively simple and can be handled by any reasonably competent homeowner; however, with the extra controls and safety devices used with modern systems, most systems should be serviced annually by a qualified heating or plumbing serviceperson.
A trained serviceperson is equipped with the tools, instruments and training necessary to inspect your system, complete regular maintenance tasks or needed repairs, and adjust the burners and other components of the system for optimal and dependable performance.
While you may already have started up your system for the heating season, it is always best to arrange this servicing well before the season starts. Wait too long to schedule an appointment and you may find that you are on a long list for service – well below all the “emergency” heat calls on the service technician’s list.
For many homeowners, if their system turns on that first chilly day of the season, they tend to assume all will go well for the rest of the heating season. It’s not that the system can’t undergo servicing during the season, it’s just that doing so means you’re likely to have to pay more for the service — and worse, you increase the chance of a cold, heatless day.
Whether your system received a professional seasonal launching or not, if the system doesn’t come on when the thermostat is turned up, there are a few steps to take that might get it going before you have to call for help:
- Check the thermostat for any obvious signs of physical damage.
- Make sure the day, time and ON-OFF settings are correct.
- If the thermostat was moved or removed for re-painting or a new wallpaper project, check to make sure the wires were reconnected (with power off).
- Check to make sure the power switch for the heating system is on. (This switch is typically located on or near the unit, or if an older house, it may be located at the top of the basement stairs or on the wall of the garage.)
- Replace the thermostat battery with a fresh one.
Note: if the power switch was turned off or the battery died, the programmed settings may have returned to the factory default settings and a full reprogramming to your desired settings may be needed. Look on the back of the thermostat cover for basic instructions; otherwise refer to the manufacturer’s instructions. If these are not available, try contacting the manufacturer through its website. Instructions may also be posted online. If you can’t immediately figure how to change the settings, look for a manual override (usually UP-DOWN arrows) to raise the setting to at least manually get heat if needed.
P.S. Look ahead: get your name on the service company’s schedule for next year now so you can benefit from off-season fees and ensure a successful startup next year.