Exterior Winter HVAC Maintenance submitted by Doug Tarry Jr.
Exterior Winter HVAC Maintenance
Winter 2013-14 is turning out to be one of the coldest in many years in our region with more snow than we've had in a long time. That makes this a great time to think about exterior Winter Maintenance for your HVAC system.
New homes that are being constructed to meet or exceed the 2012 Ontario Building Code work far differently than older homes. One very critical safety feature that has been added is the use of direct vent or power vent combustion appliances. This means that they don't use interior household air for combustion and have very little chance of back drafting into the home. Older homes frequently still make use of natural draft combustion appliances, such as mid-efficiency furnaces or natural draft water heaters.
During certain conditions where outside air pressure is greater than on the inside, these appliances may not vent reliably or safely and could result in carbon monoxide spillage into the home.
So if you are looking to buy a home and are considering between new and resale, make sure that the resale homes you are looking at feature direct vent or power vent combustion appliances. It is an important safety feature to consider for your family.
However, this article is about winter maintenance. A common way I like to describe the need for maintenance with your new home is to compare it to a car. A high performance sports car needs to have regular lube oil and filter maintenance just like the old beater most of us had in high school or college. Without it the car eventually breaks down and results in costly repairs.
Your modern high performance home is like a high performance car. It may provide better performance than an older home, but maintenance is still a requirement to ensure your home continues to perform properly and efficiently.
That leads me back to outdoor maintenance. When we are having large snowfalls and drifting winds it is important that you keep the mechanical and plumbing vents free from accumulating snow. These vents are typically located within the first few rows of brick on the side of the home. There should be an intake and exhaust for your HRV/ERV, an exhaust vent for your dryer and direct venting for your water heater and furnace.
I recommend that these vents be checked after each snowfall of any significance and if there is snow already on the ground they should also be checked if you notice snow drifting on your lawn to make sure they haven’t been covered by a snow drift. Remove any snow below and around for a few feet to allow the vents to pull air properly. This simple check and maintenance will help to keep your home performing optimally throughout the winter.