Don’t Upgrade Your Heating System before Reading This

As the year begins, one of the smartest decisions you can make is to upgrade your existing heating system with a high efficiency alternative. This will save on costs of operating and the experience will be like no other.

However, before making this jump, you should hire a HVAC contractor to check out your current system and perform regular tune ups. This is important because you may start realizing savings right from your present system before upgrading to a higher model.

Regular Professional Tune Ups

If you have an oil-fired system, it is recommended that you have it tuned up and cleaned at least once per year. For gas-fired systems, they should be checked at least once every two years. Heat pumps can go up to three years before scheduling the next tune up exercise.

Regular tune ups help in cutting costs and also enhance the lifetime of your system. Homeowners with a regular tune up arrangement experience fewer repair costs and breakdowns. A complete tune up may cost you over $100, but it can significantly cutdown your heating bill from 3% to 10%.

Some of the services to expect in your tune up exercise include:

Combustion efficiency

When fuel burns, the combustion process may be incomplete and this may result into low efficiency of the unit. If your system can achieve 75% and above efficiency levels, you do not have to replace it. However, any lower numbers are an indication of the need for replacement. The following are the key determinants of combustion efficiency.

  • Flue Temperature – If the flue gas temperatures are way too high, they could be pointing towards loss of heat in the chimney. For an oil system, the flue temperature should be between 400 and 600 degrees Fahrenheit and for a gas system, it should be between 300 and 600 degrees Fahrenheit.
  • Carbon Dioxide – When you see too little carbon dioxide concentration, it means the combustion is incomplete. A normal CO2 concentration should be between 7 and 12%.
  • Smoke – Too much smoke is an indicator of incomplete combustion. On a scale of 0 to 10, the smoke level should not be higher than 1.


Oil system parts such as electrodes, filters, and nozzle should be thoroughly cleaned during the tune-up process. The heat exchanger surfaces should also be cleaned and any sediment from steam lines and boiler removed.


Based on the results of efficiency testing, some fuel and air flow adjustments should follow. The technician ought to re-calibrate the internal thermostat of the furnace to ensure correct readings are captured.

Other tune-up measures such as duct sealing, reducing system size, and draft reduction must be effected to return your heating system back to its efficiency levels.

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