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A professional’s touch is key to proper home winterization

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POSTED: October 16, 2012 7:00 a.m.

A recent cold snap prompted many local residents to break out sweaters and jackets.

While glad not to need their air conditioners, homeowners were prompted to start thinking about preparing their homes for winter.

Much of what is required to winterize a home is up to the homeowner and what he or she can afford, but heating-and-air technician Tom Egner and Anderson Chimney Sweeps owner Jim Anderson said much of that preparation should be done by a professional. Both said proper heating-system inspection will ensure the system is working right before it’s needed this winter and that the minor costs for a professional checkup far outweigh the cost for repairs later on.

“It’s important to check your fireplace every year for creosote buildup,” said Anderson, referring to the tar residue that builds up in the walls of fireplaces and flues. “We do a visual inspection to check for creosote and to ensure there are no cracks in the brick and mortar in the walls of the chimney. We also make sure the damper is working properly.”

Anderson said some older homes with brick fireplaces do not have a chimney cap, which prevents chimney swifts from nesting inside. He emphasized that if the birds are found to be nesting in a chimney, by law no one is allowed to remove them. For this reason, he advised homeowners to have a cap placed on their chimneys.

“If there is something in a chimney — like wasps, for example — usually the customer will know it,” said Anderson, whose Richmond Hill business services the surrounding community, including Hinesville.

Egner, who has been a technician for eight years, said his company, like most heating and air companies, offers a maintenance agreement that includes a biannual check of heating and air-conditioning systems.

“We make sure everything is working properly,” said Egner, noting their maintenance agreement includes a checkup before the winter and summer seasons. “We check the ducts to make sure there are no leaks. We inspect the coils to make sure there are no leaks or heavy buildup of dust. Most of all, we put the gauges on the unit to ensure it’s running the way it should.”

He explained that if he identifies any problem, he notifies the owner first before making any repairs. He said if the heating unit needs more than one pound of Freon, there is probably a leak somewhere in the system.

Egner said customers with gas heaters usually are the ones most likely to call for service because they’re skeptical about turning on their furnaces for the first time. In addition to checking these systems for gas leaks, he checks for carbon monoxide.

Egner’s heating-system service check includes looking for caulking around windows and doors.

“As part of an overall, complete check, I look at the amount of insulation in the attic,” he added, expressing his preference for the convenience and efficiency of spray-foam insulation. “I tell my customers if they want their heating system to be more efficient, they need to ensure their house is well-insulated.”

 

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