Muccia Plumbing, Heating and AC has already begun to get calls to schedule a heating system startup. It makes sense and it’s worth spending a few moments understanding what we do and why you should care.
Understanding the complex heating system and why it needs an annual startup
Your heating system is a complex machine. It includes a variety of devices that check for fuel pressure, water level, water pressure, valves, zones, pumps and more. These devices and indicators are specific to your system, and are meant to take care of each part of your home or business with a unique “zone”. Simply put, a zone is an area of your home or business that is getting heat (or not) based on the thermostat that is relaying information back to the main system. Whether time-based (start the heat at 6 AM) and/or temperature based (Don’t let it drop below 65 degrees), each zone is an independent place and based on use, will require more or less heat than another room.
Heating system startups save money
For example, let’s say you have a large family room say 30 x 30 feet square. This may be the place where on a holiday morning kids, adults and family gather to open gifts. Once that fun is over, everyone goes back to another room – kids go out or to their bedrooms, parents set about doing laundry, cooking, or any other planned activity. To maintain that 30 X 30 heat at a comfortable 72 with no occupants is simply a waste of money. Today’s efficient boilers and hot water systems produce heat rapidly so that if it’s needed, it takes a very short time to regain that heat level from the earlier time of day.
Likewise, there are two other times where lowering the heat can save money. One, of course, is when everyone is sleeping. While we don’t want to freeze everyone under the covers of their bed, it is much more comfortable to sleep in the 60s than in the high 70s or low 80s. The bedcovers are designed to hold in body heat and what feels comfortable above the covers, is likely unbearable when you have 2 inches of down covers on top of you.
The second should be equally obvious. If everyone in the family is off to school or work, there is no good reason to pump high 70s low 80s into an entire house. Remember the heating system’s primary job is to keep people warm. And if you have pets, worry not. Unless the temps drop way down into the 40s or 50s, the natural fur on cats and dogs insulates them from that small differential in room temperature.
How a heating system startup is done
Now that we’ve explained why the basics of a heating system, let’s talk about what’s involved in having Muccia Plumbing do a startup inspection. As mentioned earlier, the heating system is a complex system with multiple indicators built into the system to permit a trained plumber to determine efficiency and manufacturers recommended positions. Let’s begin with water pressure. There is a delicate balance between too much and too little water entering and exiting the system on demand. An early indicator of a failure is a water drip behind the system. Along with all the technology, there are built-in relief valves to avoid excess water from being distributed on your floor or too little which can cause a complete failure.
In point of fact, the first part of the startup inspection is a detailed visual look around for anything out of the ordinary. Since this is likely the first time since May that the system has been turned on, the plumbing/heating tech will look for drips around the system to find any parts which may have exceeded their usefulness. Often these include the water pressure gauge, the water inlet pump, and the thermal expansion tank. These three parts are interrelated, and it’s often best to replace all three rather than guess which one is prepared to fail.
The tech will next begin a series of tests between zones and their equivalent thermostat. This is to ensure that the heat which is called for is acting on a request from the correct thermostat. Since each hot water pump is controlled electronically by the appropriate thermostat, it is imperative that the two are working in tandem.
Finally, if so appropriate, the tech will replace all filters (typically on hot air systems) that were replaced last year. Clogged filters, whether for Air Conditioning or Heater systems are the #1 loss of energy and comfort. After replacing the filters, the last step is ensuring that the performance of the system is at its peak. Techs are uniquely trained to listen for water flows, responses to thermostats and a host of other sounds to instill confidence that the startup has put the system in readiness for winter. And in case you were wondering, it is not necessary to request and schedule a startup inspection in the winter. Anytime between the end of September and the end of October is usually perfect, though if you want to get your system scheduled when you want, the earlier the better.
Heating system startups make us both happy
Thank you for taking the time to read this latest in Mike’s Tips. Our goals at Muccia Plumbing, Heating and AC have not changed in our 40 years of doing business in Bergen County. We will never sell you parts you don’t need, and you’ll know exactly what fees will be involved. No surprises. Just delighted customers. You can reach Muccia Plumbing at 201-343-1414 or visit our website at www.mucciaplumbing.com