December 8, 2016
Another Edmonton winter means frigid temperatures along with the inevitable ice and snow. With area temperatures once again plunging into the negative digits, we find ourselves dealing with a litany of daily tasks to ensure that our homes are kept safe and secure. Our HVAC, plumbing and electrical systems will be working overtime to compensate for the extreme cold, so it’s important to keep them running efficiently. While fall maintenance is essential for getting your home prepared for the cold, an Edmonton winter requires continued upkeep.
One of the easiest, but most overlooked, ways to keep your furnace running efficiently is to change out the filter every month. A dirty filter is the number one cause for system failure as it can greatly restrict airflow. During seasons of heavy use, changing out the filter every 30 days will help keep the air clean and ensure the heater runs at maximum capacity. A dirty filter will not only promote poor indoor air quality (IAQ), but also prompt your heater to work harder. Keeping a clean filter helps reduce energy consumption as well, so make sure that you have several replacement filters on hand. When buying replacement filters, there are two important factors to consider; the size and the Minimum Efficiency Reporting Value (MERV). Attempting to use a filter that is too small or too big will cause issues with your system. Make sure that you only install the appropriate size. The MERV rating helps consumers choose the best filter for their system and uses a scale from 1-16. A MERV rating from 7-12 is generally considered best for home systems (higher rated filters are for hospitals and other medical institutions).
If you have an indoor sink located next to an outside wall, chances are you have experienced frozen pipes. The supply lines that run to that particular sink are probably connected through that wall. The best (and most cost-efficient) way to keep the shut-off valves and water supply lines protected is to keep the vanity cabinet doors open. The warmer air inside your home will help keep the supply lines from freezing. Some homeowners leave the faucet running at a slow drip to keep the plumbing from freezing, which is also a valid method – but can be costly to maintain. The use of space heaters to warm pipes, which are a popular option, are not recommended as they present a dangerous fire hazard. If you do encounter a frozen line and have no way to warm it, the best course of action is to leave it alone. A plumbing professional can assess the potential damage – which is often hard to determine until the temperature goes above freezing. Close the shut-off valve to the line to prevent any water from running through and leave it to the experts on how to proceed.
Losing power during the bitter Edmonton winter could have potentially fatal results. A whole house backup generator is the best defense against losing electricity during a winter storm. It is especially important if your home doesn’t have a fireplace or alternative method of heating. Using electrical products to help stay warm can also be potentially hazardous, so be mindful when using electric blankets, portable space heaters and fan heaters. Household electrical fires increase during the winter months due, in part, to these electrical heating accessories. Space heaters are particularly dangerous and have caused hundreds of fatalities throughout Canada and the U.S.
Always Plumbing & Heating is your first, best resource for winter-related service issues. If you have any problems with your HVAC or plumbing system, regardless of the weather, don’t hesitate to contact us. We are open 24/7 and can dispatch a technician to your home anytime – day or night! Call 780-489-8118 to speak to a live customer service representative and schedule an appointment today!