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August 2019
Blah, blah, blah (eye roll)….. you’ve heard it once, and you’ll hear it again: “It’s important to service the appliances in your home annually!” However, is this really necessary? Of course, in a perfect world, we’d do so, but in most cases you can probably defer, take your chances, and end up ahead of the game in the long run. 

With your heating system, however, I emphatically say: “Service your heating system(s) annually. NO EXCEPTIONS, even if it’s brand new!” 

This is important to extend the serviceable life of the heating system and maintain optimum efficiency (e.g., reduce operating costs), but also for safety reasons. 

If, for instance, a crack develops in the furnace’s heat exchanger, deadly carbon monoxide can be dispersed throughout the home. Annual heating system inspections and service by qualified HVAC contractors could, in fact, be lifesavers and they’re inexpensive. 

August (summertime) is a great time to have your heating systems fully serviced before the upcoming busy heating system! 

TIP: Ask the HVAC contractor to leave a sticker on the appliance with the date and type of service. Then get on their schedule to return again next year (and years following) around the same time. 

While well-maintained heating systems are essential for you and your family, consistent maintenance also gives confidence to future homeowners (e.g., would-be-buyers will know your home is well and proactively maintained). Finally, please make sure you have carbon monoxide detectors installed throughout your home; I like the combination smoke-carbon monoxide detectors myself. 

There it is: install CO detectors and get those heating systems serviced! Super simple, super-smart moves.

- Tim Hance

3 Questions:
Heating Systems with
Foss Heating & Cooling

Every month, we seek to bring our readers insight from the worlds of home construction, home repair, and home maintenance straight from local Northwest Washington contractors in a segment we call “3 Questions.” Yep, you guessed it: we ask three questions, and the contractors answer them.
This month, we talk about heating systems with Alex Gravley, manager at Foss Heating & Cooling in Mount Vernon.

Q1: Home inspectors are always calling for annual service of furnaces, fireplaces and heat pumps. Is this really necessary?
It sure is! Yearly maintenance not only ensures that the comfort system is performing at its rated output and efficiency, but can identify potential problems like component failure/wear and fix issues before they become emergency repairs.

Q2: When you inspect furnaces, are you able to fully see and inspect the heat exchanger? This critical component isn’t fully visible to home inspectors.
We cannot fully inspect a heat exchanger on a furnace without completely removing it. This service is not intended by manufacturers and thus is difficult and time-consuming. We employ a few procedures to ensure the heat exchanger is intact. A combination of pressure testing, Carbon Monoxide testing, visual inspection, and flue gas analysis is the best way to be sure a heat exchanger is not in failure and dangerous. 

Q3: Do customers get an economy-of-scale discount by contracting with you to service multiple appliances in one trip?
Yes, we have lower pricing built in for our customers that have multiple units to service all at once.

Bonus Q: Is it really important to make sure the arrows on furnace filters are pointed in the correct direction, or is this kind of silly?
There is an anti-microbial coating on many disposable media filters that is only on one side of the filter. This is the main reason for the arrows, but in reality, someone would likely not notice a difference if the filter was installed backward.

About Foss Heating & Cooling

Foss Heating & Cooling has been serving Skagit Valley since 1974. The company specializes in residential and light commercial service, retrofit, air quality, and water heaters. The business is a Trane Comfort Specialist and Mitsubishi Diamond Dealer, which means that Foss Heating & Cooling must attend training and offer support for those brands while servicing all other brands as well. The company’s focus is on 100 percent customer satisfaction and taking extra care to educate clients on the importance of proper equipment sizing, efficiency, safety, air quality, yearly service, and properly sized, sealed, and insulated ductwork.
For more information, visit
A big “thanks” to Alex for his responses!

If you have questions or comments about home inspections in general, tweet me (@AIHomeInspect).
Copyright © 2019 All Islands Home Inspections, All rights reserved.

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