Northern IL Central Heating Maintenance Guide


Here in northern Illinois, there are a few things that are almost a given. One of those things is the fact that every winter it can get downright cold outside. For that reason, it’s very important that you make certain that your central heating system is ready to take on the onslaught of winter weather that we tend to get every year.


Just like a car, your central heating system as an engine and requires maintenance on that engine and the systems attached to it to ensure it is always working as efficiently as possible. While there are many things that you can do to ensure your central heating system doesn’t leave you shivering under a blanket, the very best thing you can do is to have it inspected by a trained professional semi annually.


If you’re ready to make certain your central heating system is performing at its best this winter season, give Johnson Home Inspection Services, LLC a call today at 815-441-1275 to schedule a central heating system inspection. We will happily work with you to make sure that your central heating system is ready to roll for this winter’s cold weather.


Aside from having a trained professional inspector central heating system, there are several maintenance steps that are important for you to do frequently to keep your system running as efficiently as possible.


Identify Your Central Heating System


When you first think about central heating, you may think that they are all created the same. While this is true for the most part, there are actually several different types of central heating systems. In northern Illinois, the most common systems include heat pumps, forced air and hydronic systems.



Basically, if you have radiators in your home, you are most likely dealing with the hydronic system that allows water to be heated up in a gas or oil boiler and then pumped throughout the radiators in your home. If instead you have heat vents, then you’re either dealing with a heat pump or a forced air system.


Regardless of what type of system you have, all of them need to have regular maintenance to keep them running at optimal levels.


Taking Care Of Your Thermostat


One thing that every type of central heating system has in common is the fact that you have a thermostat that controls the amount of heat/cooling  you are creating. Many common issues that come up related to central heat systems actually stem from the thermostat.


For that reason, making sure your thermostat is working properly is often the first step to maintaining your central heating system. So, it’s a good idea to begin your maintenance checklist by checking out your thermostat.


Before you start using your heat significantly during the winter, take a moment to turn up your thermostat. If you can hear your furnace go on and it continues to run without issue, you should be good to go as far as your thermostat is concerned. On the flipside, if you hear the furnace come on and it turns itself off in less than 3 to 5 minutes, then you’re probably dealing with a short cycling issue that can be caused by a couple of different things.


  1. The heat exchanger inside of your furnace is overheating which causes a safety device inside of the furnace to shut it down. If this is the case, a professional inspection will need to be conducted to ensure that an emergency situation is not present that will require significant maintenance.


  1. The thermostat may not be adjusted correctly. If this is the case then a quick and simple recalibration or replacement can often be completed to have your system back up and running quickly and inexpensively.


If you find that your system is short cycling for any reason, it is important that you consult with a professional to make certain that there isn’t a larger problem your system to fail to run correctly.


Hydronic Heating System Maintenance


Hydronic heating systems work by heating water inside of a boiler and then circulating that water throughout a closed system to radiators inside of your home. Almost every hydronic heating system is designed just a little bit differently and uses multiple valves to push water throughout the system.


Unfortunately, most hydronic heating system maintenance must be conducted by a trained professional. However, there are a few things that you can do on your own to make certain you’re getting the most bang for your buck from your system.


  1. Dust off all radiator services – one of the easiest things you can do to help keep your heat system operating at maximum efficiency and reduce allergens in your home is to dust off all of your radiators. You can do this with either a damp cloth or preferably, a vacuum cleaner.
  2. Make certain all baseboard fins are straightened – one thing that will significantly decrease the efficiency of baseboard radiators is having been fins. While you may be able to straighten many of them yourself, if you’re fins are significantly damaged, professional can quickly and easily straighten them out using a fin comb.
  3. Look for damp areas around radiators and baseboards– while any maintenance or repair for leaks in your system should be done by trained professional, you can start the process on your own by looking for any damp spots around your baseboards will radiators.

There are several other things that a professional heating inspector will look for while assessing how much maintenance needs to be conducted on your central heating system. The tips listed above are great way for you to get started with ensuring your central hydronic heating system is operating at maximum efficiency.


Forced Air System Maintenance


In more modern homes here in northern Illinois, the most common source of central heating systems are forced air systems. These systems are typically powered by a gas, oil or electric furnace that heats air and then pushes it through ventilation systems throughout your home.


As with hydronic heating systems, forced air systems are often best maintained by first having them inspected by a trained professional. However, there are a few things that you can do on your own to help your system perform at its highest capacity.


  1. Check and replace filters frequently – one of the key things you can do to help your system work as efficiently as possible is to check and replace your filters at least once per month. If you have pets in your home, smokers in your home or if anyone in your home has any type of breathing issues such as asthma, you should check them at least every two weeks. A good rule of thumb to follow for maintaining your filters is to check them monthly and replace them at least once every three months.
  2. Keep vents dust and debris free – another quick maintenance item that you can perform on your own is to ensure that the vents in your home are dust and debris free. You can wipe down vents with either a damp cloth or use your vacuum cleaner and since many events simply slide out of the floor, you can vacuum the area right below the vent using a vacuum cleaner as well. Performing this quick maintenance step every month will help to reduce allergens inside of your home and help your forced air system operate more efficiently.

Just like with hydronic heating systems, forced air systems require maintenance that you should not be conducting on your own. Things such as ductwork cleaning, removing certain dust from the furnace and cleaning and inspecting the blower are just a few of the items that a trained professional will complete.


Be Prepared for Winter


The tips listed above are just a few of the things that you can do to make certain your central heating system is working as efficiently as possible for this winter’s weather.


There are many other things that you can do to help reduce the burden of the expenses associated with heating your home this winter. If you’re looking for more great tips on how to save money on your heating bill this winter, take just a moment to check out this post on how to reduce your heating bills in Northern IL.


If you’d like to make certain that your central heating system is working as efficiently as possible, take just a moment to schedule a central heating system inspection today. Give us a call at 815-441-1275 and we can get your inspection scheduled as soon as possible.

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