Furnace Checklist

It is time to dust off that furnace, and our HVAC team is here to help. To kick off the season here is a checklist to get your furnace ready for the cold season ahead. 

1. Change the Filter

The number one cause of a failed furnace is a cracked heat exchanger. The simplest way to extend the life of the heat exchanger is to routinely replace the furnace filter. Generally, furnace filters need to be replaced every 30 days, including 1” wide premium filters. High efficiency 4”+ wide filters can last from 90 days to 1 year, depending on the specific home.

You should change out your furnace filter every 30 days.

2. Adjust the Thermostat

Most modern thermostats have batteries that need to be replaced annually. If you have a programmable thermostat, check the schedule and temperature settings to provide the greatest comfort and energy savings. If you have a non-programmable thermostat, set the fan operation to “auto” and set the temperature to your comfort. The exception here, would be if you have a high-efficiency air cleaner and a low-energy use blower motor, then set the fan operation to “on”.

Most modern thermostats have batteries that need to be replaced annually.

3. Test Run Your Furnace

Turn your furnace on in early September, well before you need it. Avoid waiting until a cold fall October morning to turn your furnace on to ensure it works properly. October tends to be one of the busiest months out of the year for Minnesota heating companies, so avoid the rush and potential delay in service by testing the operation early.

Test run your furnace before you actually need to use it.

4. Schedule a Tune-Up

All furnace manufacturers recommend annual maintenance by a qualified heating technician. At a minimum, the tune-up should include the following:

  1. Inspect and test all safety controls
  2. Check and/or replace the filter
  3. Check thermostat settings and replace the battery
  4. Clean and test the ignition system
  5. Clean and test burners 
  6. Clean condensate drain if equipped
  7. Test carbon monoxide level
  8. Inspect heat exchanger

A furnace tune-up can be performed at any time of the year, but many customers prefer the fall, which typically results in paying full price and not getting the most convenient appointment schedule. Savvy homeowners will have the annual tune-up performed in the off-cycle time of the year to get reduced pricing and appointment times of their choice. Once you establish a time of year that works for you, simply stick to that cycle. Another advantage to having annual tune-ups is that you establish a relationship with a heating company resulting in priority scheduling if a repair or replacement is needed.

Schedule a tune-up.

5. Consider Replacement

The Minnesota Commerce Department states that the typical life of a properly maintained furnace is 15 to 20 years. Do not wait for your furnace to fail, consider replacing it as it reaches 15 years old. Not only will you have a more reliable furnace, but new furnaces offer more safety features, higher efficiency, multi-heating stages, and variable speed blower motors resulting in safer operations, lower heating costs, and a higher level of comfort and reliability.

You may need to replace your furnace after 15 years.

Bonus tip:

If your furnace is equipped with a central humidifier, replace the water panel, open the bypass damper (winter position) and set the humidistat to your comfort level.

Whether you need to change your filter or replace your furnace our HVAC specialists are here to help. For more home and appliance tips, explore more on our blog.

Prep Your Deck with these Tips

This guest blog was written by Lindus Construction. Lindus Construction is proud to have served over 75,000 happy customers since the company’s founding in 1979. One Call. One Contractor. Lindus Construction is proud to be the premier installer of wooden and composite decking in the Twin Cities and Western Wisconsin.

Before building a new deck or purchasing a home with one, it’s crucial that you understand the level of maintenance they require in order to maintain their appearance. Failure to do so in wooden decks can lead to dry rot in as little as five years. This is because the ends of the deck boards can become moisture ridden and overtaken with mold. How you maintain your deck is largely dependent on the material it is comprised of. Spruce up your deck with this deck maintenance advice.

Maintaining a Wood Deck

To get your deck fit for a grill party, use a paint scraper to remove any peeling areas on the deck boards. Light sanding may be needed to remove any preexisting deck stain. Restore the cedar’s PH balance and breathe new life into the graying wood with a deck brightener/conditioning product. Then the wooden deck is ready to be cleaned using a power washer on its lowest setting.

After the deck is completely dry, you pay apply a new stain if desired. When given the option, homeowners should use oil-based stains to refinish their deck because they do a better job of penetrating the wood, making it longer lasting than paint. Two thin coats will be more effective than one thick coat. Address two to three boards at a time, rather than trying to do a substantial section all at once. While rollers and spray mechanisms can be used, the most effective way to stain a deck is with a paintbrush. This approach allows the stain to work its ways deep into the pores of the wood.

Maintaining a Composite Deck

Once it’s understood how much time and money must be dedicated to maintaining wood decking, it’s hardly surprising that many homeowners opt for maintenance-free decking from major manufacturers, such as TimberTech® and Zuri®. While maintenance may vary slightly by manufacturer, it’s a selling point that very little attention must be paid to keeping this type of decking looking as good as the day it was installed.

Hose off composite decks occasionally to reduce staining and curtail mildew growth. If needed, water and mild detergent can be used, but beware of any cleaners not authorized by the decking manufacturer. Steer clear of applying bug spray or sunscreen on a composite deck, as it can lead to discoloration. In addition, mats with rubber backing and tarps should not be placed on composite decking for extended periods of time.

Once your deck is looking its best, fill it with lawn furniture, plants and family. Outdoor entertaining is more important than ever, and we hope you enjoy your deck all season long.  

What do you like to use to deck out your deck? Let us know in the comments below.

Spring Home Improvement Projects to Consider

This guest blog was written by Lindus Construction. Lindus Construction is proud to have served over 75,000 happy customers in Western Wisconsin and the Twin Cities since the company’s founding in 1979. One Call. One Contractor.

Spring has sprung, and in our markets we are all too familiar with severe winter weather conditions wreaking havoc on homes. As the snow melts and temperatures warm, the toll Mother Nature has taken over the winter months becomes increasingly difficult to ignore. And with more time spent indoors, many of us have home improvement on the mind. Read on for a list of home improvement projects that are ideal to tackle in the spring.

Repair or Replace the Roof

Most homeowners are uncomfortable climbing on the roof to examine the condition of their shingles. However, standing on the ground and using a pair of binoculars is a straightforward way for a homeowner to evaluate if it’s time for a reputable professional to provide advice on roof repair or replacement. Causes for concern include curled shingles and bruised or missing granules. Quality roofers can also inspect flashing around chimneys and skylights.

Get New Gutters

Leafguard gutters on home

Missing gutters on your home can cause wet basements, landscape erosion and foundation cracking. But simply having gutters doesn’t solve the problem. Improperly-sized or clogged gutters cannot divert water away from the home. To alleviate the worry of leaks, opt for a seamless design.  

Spruce Up Your Landscaping

Inspect the trees throughout your yard for any branches that may require trimming. Rake fallen leaves away from landscaping and flower beds. A 4-inch layer of mulch around plant beds acts as a safeguard against weed growth. And with more meals being eaten at home, there’s no better time to invest in a shiny new grill.

Broil King pellet grill

Inspect Your Windows

Avoid air and water infiltration by inspecting your windows to ensure their caulking and weatherstripping is in place. You can tackle hardware changes on your own, but call a professional if the glass is warped or cracked.

Visit Your Attic

While the attic is a dreary place most prefer not to visit, ignoring it causes problems. Critters such as bats, squirrels and insects often make their homes in attics over the winter months. Winter ice dams create moisture in the attic, leading to mold and mildew growth. If you’re even questioning whether your home’s insulation is up to snuff, consult with a reputable contractor.

What home projects are you tackling this spring? Tell us in the comments.

Home Improvement Projects with the Highest ROI

Renovating your home is a serious investment, but smart home improvements add tremendous value to your home and convenience to your life. To ensure a high ROI, avoid unnecessary projects and focus on updates that will allow you to recoup the most money.

Financing Home Improvements

While minor improvements typically won’t break the bank, the cost of a home remodel can become extremely pricey if you don’t go in with a budget. Consider how much you are willing and able to spend ahead of time to ensure you don’t spend beyond your means.

Some people use home equity loans or cash-out refinancing to cover construction costs. Both options allow you to convert your existing home equity into funds that you can use to finance your improvement project. Financing with your equity allows you to avoid high upfront costs and boost initial ROI.

Choosing Home Improvements with High ROI

In addition to financial considerations, consider which projects will add the most value to your home. This includes being deliberate when choosing building materials and contractors to keep within budget.

Whether you want to sell your home soon or simply update your property, these home improvement projects are likely to pay off.

Kitchen Renovation

Approximately 80 percent of homebuyers place the kitchen on their list of the top-three most important spaces. You can expect to recoup as much as 77% of your investment on a kitchen remodel.

Kitchen updates may be as simple as repainting cabinets and installing a new backsplash or purchasing new appliances.

Bathroom Renovation

Bathrooms have a higher-than-average ROI. If you choose to remodel your bathroom, you may return between 60% and 70% of your initial investment. As with other remodeling projects, avoid overspending. Prioritize functionality and make sure to tend to any plumbing or electrical issues first.

For a greater ROI, consider high-value bathroom upgrades, such as replacing plumbing fixtures, updating your vanity, repainting walls or replacing the flooring.

Laundry Room Renovation

Homeowners are on the lookout for a dedicated, functional area to wash clothing. That said, it’s no surprise that you should expect to recoup up to 91% of your initial investment by improving this space.

There are more than just financial benefits to renovating your laundry room. For instance, proper machine placement and installation by professionals can reduce the likelihood of flooding and electrical issues. You may find it more convenient to build a laundry room on the main floor rather than in the basement since you won’t have to lug baskets up and down stairs.

Garage Door Replacement

Looking for more bang for your buck? Homeowners who update their garage door can expect to recoup as much as 97.5% of their initial investment. They can also enjoy benefits like enhanced home security and a higher resale value.

To determine whether a garage door replacement is worth the investment, consider your location and the condition of your current door. If you live somewhere windy, you’ll want to choose an insulating door that’s suitable for the climate.

No matter what you choose to renovate, make sure the updates align with the market of homebuyers and their needs. Tending to the current market enables you to sell faster and reap the most profit.

Fall Furnace Maintenance Checklist

Much like a car, your furnace requires annual maintenance and a tune-up to ensure all the moving parts are in tiptop shape. Regular maintenance also ensures the furnace runs efficiently, saving energy and money. Warming up to the idea? Read on to learn more about fall furnace maintenance.

1. Change the Furnace Filter

You won’t get proper airflow with a dirty filter, which can degrade indoor air quality. In addition, a system with a clean filter runs more efficiently and distributes heat better. Check your owner’s manual if you need directions or advice on what type of filter to use.

2. Vacuum Vents

Remove floor registers to vacuum our dirt and debris. Not only will this boost efficiency, but the air released will be cleaner.

3. Schedule a Furnace Tune-up

Warners' Stellian HVAC technician fixing furnace

The best time to schedule a furnace tune-up is in the fall before the cold weather hits and the unit is needed. When scheduling a professional tune-up, expect your HVAC technician to do the following, as recommended by Energy Star.

  • Clean and lubricate all moving parts
  • Check thermostat settings
  • Tighten electrical connections
  • Inspect condensate drain
  • Check system controls, fuel connections, gas pressure, burner combustion and heat exchanger

Having a professional inspect your system annually ensures system efficiency, plus avoids breakdowns when you’re most reliant on the heating. In addition, your HVAC professional will check that the system runs safely – protecting your household from the dangers of carbon monoxide poisoning caused by broken or inadequate venting. Don’t get left in the cold; schedule your furnace inspection today.