Tips on Forced-Air Systems and Improving Performance

System Care Made Easy

Keeping your home warm in winter relies on your forced-air system so it is important to care for it. The following simple tips will keep it ship shape.

Tips on Forced-Air Systems and Improving Performance

Seal Leaks

The most effective step you can take to make a forced-air system more efficient overall is to make sure there are no leaks in house shell or the heating system ducts.

  • Weatherstrip windows and doors, have cracks in the exterior siding caulked and tape the seams between duct sections.
  • For leaky ducts, examine the joints between sections wherever they are visible, especially in attics and basements. To reattach a loose flange, drill small pilot holes and drive in sheet-metal screws. Make sure the seams are sealed with professional-quality duct tape.
  • Ductwork that runs through unheated areas should be insulated. If your ducts aren't insulated cover them yourself or hire a heating contractor to do the job.

Check Blocks

Blocking air movement can also reduce performance of your system.

  • Minimise blockages in the circulation of heated air. Keep supply and return registers clean.
  • Don't place furniture or curtains directly against or over ducts. Leave the door open to any room that has a supply register but no return register. If you aren’t sure how to figure this out, a supply register feels warm when the heat is on. Instead, you can also have the door to the room trimmed so that there's a 2.5 centimetre gap at the bottom

Sealing leaks in the ductwork

Leaks in ducts can significantly reduce the efficiency of a forced-air system. Examine the joints between the duct sections wherever they are visible, especially in attics and basements.

Joints

To reattach a loose flange, drill small pilot holes and drive in sheet-metal screws. Make sure the seams are sealed with tape. If the tape is worn, remove and replace it.

Sealing

To seal the seams, be sure to use professional-quality duct tape. Wipe the area clean and press the tape smooth to avoid air bubbles.

Insulation

Ductwork that runs through unheated areas should be insulated. If your ducts aren't insulated, have a heating contractor cover them with batts of fiberglass insulation or wrap them yourself.

Changing the furnace filter

A dusty furnace filter is one of the chief causes of a poorly-performing forced-air system. Also have the furnace and blower checked yearly by a heating contractor. How a filter works is it collects dust from the air returning to the furnace for reheating. A clogged filter makes the blower work harder and reduces the system's efficiency.

Seasonal Check

Start each heating season with a clean filter, then replace or clean it every month after that. Disposable cardboard-framed fibreglass filters are by far the most common type. Some furnaces have a metal or plastic element filter that you can clean and reuse. Clean this type of filter using a hose with a high-pressure nozzle. Let it dry fully before reinstalling it.

Filters

Some filters go inside the return duct and are reached by opening an access panel. To reach one of these, open the blower access panel on the furnace. Flip off the power switch for the furnace before opening the access panel.

Other filters fit inside the furnace next to, or wrap around, the blower. Most filters slide into a slot on the return duct next to the furnace. To change a filter, simply turn off the furnace at the thermostat, then slide out the old filter and slip in a new one.

Upgrade Filters for Better Air

Most filters catch only large dust particles to keep them from getting into the blower motor but there is an option; an electrostatic filter unit.

If you want to capture more dust, mould, pollen and other fine particles, get a professional to install one of these filter units. It is easy to keep its reusable filter clean with a monthly wash in a detergent solution.

Simple Care for a Warm Home

Looking after your heating system does not have to be a daunting task. With the above tips, you can run an efficient forced-air system with ease all winter long.

The material on this website is provided for entertainment, informational and educational purposes only and should never act as a substitute to the advice of an applicable professional. Use of this website is subject to our terms of use and privacy policy.
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