Your Furnace in Cold Weather

When I meet with my customers on the final walk through, I spend time discussing the major mechanical systems in the home. The last topic was on the Air to Air Exchanger and today I will focus on the homes heating system or Furnace.  

I typically install forced air furnaces in my homes. The furnaces I use offer a two stage system. A two stage system is like a car with 2 gears. We run the home in the low setting or first gear all the time. This constantly evens out the homes temperature and pressure. When the system calls for heat in the winter or cold in the summer, it shifts to the higher setting or second gear. This has nothing to do with a 2 zone system, as that just makes different parts of the home have the ability to have different heating or cooling capabilities.  

Your new furnace should never be turned off?!? I tell customers on the day they move in to switch the thermostat setting to ON and never look back. This does two things for the new home. First, it balances the temperature in the home and makes all levels and rooms of the home feel the same. Many people make the mistake of shutting off ducts to parts of the home thinking they are getting more benefit to the areas they spend the most time in. The reality is, they are making the home more likely to have condensation form due to the dramatic temperature changes. If we can have the entire unit/home the same temperature, the condensation will be minimized as well as the comfort level being increased. The second benefit to running the furnace all the time is that it will level out pressure. When ducts are shut down to certain areas of the home, the cold air return keeps pulling air back to the furnace. If we aren’t supplying as much as we are returning, we create a negative pressure area. This can lead to condensation in parts of the home as it acts like a vacuum. Low pressure also lowers the temperature. I’m not saying we don’t make minor adjustments to the dampers in a home, but closing them off will cause issues down the road.

The bottom line for furnaces in new homes is to keep air in motion. This eliminates moisture and makes it the most comfortable space. The easiest way to accomplish this is to continuously run your furnace in the ON setting. You will actually use less energy down the road. There is nothing like free cool air in the basement in the summer, being sent to the upper floors to reduce cost on the cooling bill. There is also nothing like taking the free hot air rising to the highest levels of the home and sending it back to the cooler areas to reduce heating costs in the winter months. Good luck and stay warm this winter!

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