Carmen Santora
BCB Executive Director

Preparing Your Furnace For Winter

  • Furnace Image

    You'll stay a lot more comfortable this winter if you warm up to these tips to keep your furnace running efficiently.

    Have your furnace checked to uncover leaks in the heat exchanger, soot, rust, corroded contacts and frayed wires.

    Heat pumps and oil fired furnaces require yearly tune ups. Manufacturers recommend having your gas fired furnace cleaned every other year.

    When the furnace is started for the first time be sure the system runs through a full heating cycle to ensure it has plenty of combustion and air and chimney draft. Contractors use draft gauges to check for sufficient draft. They will also test for carbon monoxide leaks.

    Have the burner and heat exchanger cleaned to remove soot that can impede smooth operation. Your best efficiency hinges on adjusting the burner flame to the right size and color, adjusting the flow of gas or changing the fuel filter in an oil fired system. A proper check of the heat pump should include an inspection of the compressor and fan.

    While thermostats hardly ever fail, they can degrade over time as mechanical parts stick or lose their calibration. Remember, whether your thermostat is old or new, the hole where the thermostat wires comes through the wall needs to be caulked or a draft could trick it into thinking the room is warmer or colder than it really is.

    When calling a contractor to service your furnace, or for a complete new heating system always check them out with the Better Contractors Bureau to make sure they are registered members! To be sure always look for the BCB logo.

    Birth of an Ice Dam

    The cold weather has caused ice buildups on a number of roofs in our area. The illustration below provides an explanation of why this occurs.


    Keep Animals From Getting Into Your House

  • Mouse Image

    When cold weather comes you might as well hang a vacancy sign on the lawn inviting pests into your home if you don't do something to prevent them from entering. There are many tempting places in your house where unwanted critters are likely to get in. Below are a trio of pests that account for 80 percent of animal break-ins and preventive measures to stop them.

    Diameter of entry hole:
    1/4 inch or larger. Likely entry points: Garage, basement, gaps around utility lines.
    Signs of infestation: 1/8 inch long droppings; smell of urine; noises at night; holes gnawed in food boxes.
    Preventive measures;
    Seal exterior gaps with mortar; weather-strip the bottom of basement and garage doors; keep all foodstuffs in hard plastic, glass, or steel containers.
    Stopgap measures: Stuff copper mesh or bronze wool into foundation cracks.
    Job for a pro?
    Probably not, but a large breeding population might require professional removal.

    Diameter of entry hole:
    2 1/2 inch or larger.
    Likely entry points:
    Where dormers meet roofs or where roof shingles overhang fascia boards. ( The second-story men of household pests, squirrels can jump 10 to 12 feet through the air.)
    Signs of infestation:
    Scampering noises in ceilings or attics; insulation missing from spots near eaves; 1/2 inch droppings; piles of nuts.
    Preventive measures: Prune trees away from house; keep roof and exterior trim in pristine repair; remove bird feeders. Nail hardware cloth over potential entry points until they can be repaired. This a job for a pro!