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Heating system installation, repair, maintenance:
How to inspect, diagnose & repair residential heating systems: these heating system articles answer questions about all types of building heating systems and describe how to inspect, diagnose, and repair heating system problems, how to cut heating bills, and heating system safety, heating system efficiency and heating trouble-shooting advice.
Heating System Inspection Methods, Diagnosis, Safety, Repairs
In these heating system articles we explain how to inspect and detect all defects and hazards on heating systems, boilers, furnaces, and other equipment. Methods for saving on heating cost and on improving heating safety are included.
Heating safety hazards such as carbon monoxide gas leaks, unsafe furnaces, furnace and boiler recalls are addressed.
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What kind of heat have I got? If you don't know whether your heat is provided by a furnace (hot air) or boiler (hot water), or whether your fuel is oil, gas, or electric,
and whether your heat is hot water, steam, or warm air,
see HEATING SYSTEM TYPES.
How to fix the heating system: If your heating system is not working properly choose one of the following diagnostic procedures:
Our page top photo illustrates an oil fired hot water heating boiler. The sketch at above left illustrates basic parts of a conventional gas fired warm air heating furnace; image courtesy of Carson Dunlop Associates.
The heating system inspection, diagnosis and repair articles listed at page top or at the MORE READING links at the bottom of this article and described below give the components of a heating system, describe
how to find the rated heating capacity of an heating system by examining various data tags and components, explain how to recognize common heating system operating or safety defects, and illustrate how to save money on home heating costs.
We include product safety recall and other heating system hazards.
To find what you need quickly, if you don't want to scroll through this index you are welcome to use the page top or bottom SEARCH BOX to search InspectApedia for specific articles and information.
Potentially very costly environmental hazards such as leaky oil tanks are explained in depth. Other environmental and indoor air quality topics affected by residential and light commercial heating systems are explored.
How to Inspect Heating Systems
Building HVAC (Heating, Ventilating, and Air Conditioning) have three tasks: control indoor temperature and humidity at comfortable levels, provide adequate fresh air from outdoors, and the removal of indoor air odors and pollutants by a combination of air pressure control, filtration, and exhaust ventilation systems.
But not all HVAC systems are designed to perform all three of these jobs, and in typical residential buildings separate, and un-coordinated systems may be installed to heat, ventilate, and perhaps cool the building interior.
Start a heating system inspection with basic "distant" visual observations
A proper heating system inspection begins outside with taking notice of the chimneys, flues, and vents, and for the type and location of heating equipment fuel that is used: oil tanks, LP gas, piped in natural gas, solar, etc.
Similarly, inside, before attempting a close inspection of the heating equipment itself, take not of and record defects in the heating distribution system (is there even heat present in every room?), and in the location of the heating equipment: is the boiler in a closet where it lacks combustion air, fire clearances etc.
What about the oil burner shown at above left - observed during a mobile home inspection?
From just opening the bathroom sink vanity we see that an oil burner has been shoe-horned into a space where it does not belong, is unsafe, and is extremely difficult to access and service properly.
See MOBILE HOME HEATING
See WALL-MOUNTED FURNACES
Watch out: From the moment of observing work such as the system shown in our photo, the inspector, owner, or heating service technician needs to be on red alert for amateur, unsafe workmanship.
Below and at the links listed at the "More Reading" links at the bottom of this article we provide articles on just about any question you might have about installing, inspecting, troubleshooting, & repairing residential heating systems. Use the Website Search box at page top or the Comments Box at the end of each InspectApedia article to contact us if you cannot find information you need.
For a step by step procedure that can be used to inspect the condition of a heating system
see: HEATING SYSTEM INSPECT DIAGNOSE REPAIR where we suggest detailed step by step approaches for inspecting complex systems - a free, online, detailed heating system inspection course
Critical Defects in Heating Systems
Critical defects which an inspector should not fail to detect when examining any building component or system
are defects which form an immediate, significant safety hazard or defects which are quite likely to involve
significant repair or replacement cost, and which involve components or systems which are necessary to occupy
and use the building.
Methods for detection and diagnosis of these defects are discussed in this document
and in its references. Suggestions for inclusion or exclusion of items in this list are invited - see the
link "Contact Us".
Because the heating system inspection and related topics discussed here cover a rather broad range, I have not attempted (yet) to list specific critical defects on this summary page. However any inspection of the condition of heating equipment in buildings must include careful attention to:
Life Safety Hazards such as evidence of unsafe chimneys, missing or damaged safety devices (relief valves, emergency shutoffs), and visual evidence of dangerous overheating or leaks.
Responsibly conducted, an inspection of a gas-fired furnace, for example, might discover that the furnace has been exposed to severe rust-producing conditions which risk an unsafe heat exchanger and a carbon monoxide hazard which could be fatal to building occupants.
Even though the heat exchanger may not be visible, the contextual clues around the furnace, if they are visually obvious, should be translated into a level of concern by the inspector, and where appropriate, translated into a recommendation for action. This does not mean "failing" every furnace to be on the "safe side", it means responsible inspecting and reporting.
In our FAQs section on this page see this reader's question about an Exploding Radiator for a possible example of a dangerous condition that may not have been recognized
Costly defects such as evidence of a heating system at or near the end of its life of safe, reliable operation, or evidence of a buried oil tank which is likely to be old and for which there is no record of leak testing, should be reported.
HEATING COST REDUCTION ADVICE: How to Save on Home Heating Costs - Book Review & Actual Heating Savings and Energy Savings Tips for homeowners and service technicians, gas & oil heat money saving tips, thermostat tips, tuneup tips.
NO HEAT - Boiler & Furnace Diagnosis Guide - where to start in figuring out why the heating system is not working. How to diagnose loss of heat, when the oil burner, boiler, or furnace won't run, or when the system runs but heat is not delivered to the living area
THERMAL TRACKING & Stains & Signs of Heat Loss how to recognize thermal tracking or thermal bridging & how to diagnose Stains on Ceilings & Walls, Building Air Leaks & Insulation Defects, as well as other indoor air quality or building concerns
Continue reading at BOILER CONTROLS & SWITCHES or select a topic from closely-related articles below, or see our complete INDEX to RELATED ARTICLES.
Use the "Click to Show or Hide FAQs" link just above to see recently-posted questions, comments, replies, try the search box just below, or if you prefer, post a question or comment in the Comments box below and we will respond promptly.
Boiler Chemicals 101, NCDENR, - Retrieved 12/24/2010, original source http://www.p2pays.org/ref/32/31321.pdf
Quoting from the North Carolina Division of Pollution Prevention and Environmental Assistance: The N.C. Division of Pollution Prevention and Environmental Assistance provides free, non-regulatory technical assistance and education on methods to eliminate, reduce, or recycle wastes before they become pollutants or require disposal. Contact DPPEA at (919) 715-6500 or (800) 763-0136 for assistance with issues in this fact sheet or any of your waste reduction concerns.
Thanks to Scott C. LeMarr, for sharing his file of keys to decode Furnace and Water Heater Age from the data provided on the manufacturer's equipment labels. Mr. LeMarr is
a professional home inspector, Certified Professional Inspector/President,
MASTER Indoor Environmental Specialist (MIES).
Vice President of Wisconsin NACHI. He and his company, Honest Home Inspections, LLC. can be reached at
262-424-5587 or by email to email@example.com
Domestic and Commercial Oil Burners, Charles H. Burkhardt, McGraw Hill Book Company, New York 3rd Ed 1969.
National Fuel Gas Code (Z223.1) $16.00 and National Fuel Gas Code Handbook (Z223.2) $47.00 American Gas Association (A.G.A.), 1515 Wilson Boulevard, Arlington, VA 22209 also available from National Fire Protection Association, Batterymarch Park, Quincy, MA 02269. Fundamentals of Gas Appliance Venting and Ventilation, 1985, American Gas Association Laboratories, Engineering Services Department. American Gas Association, 1515 Wilson Boulevard, Arlington, VA 22209. Catalog #XHO585. Reprinted 1989.
The Steam Book, 1984, Training and Education Department, Fluid Handling Division, ITT [probably out of print, possibly available from several home inspection supply companies] Fuel Oil and Oil Heat Magazine, October 1990, offers an update,
Principles of Steam Heating, $13.25 includes postage. Fuel oil & Oil Heat Magazine, 389 Passaic Ave., Fairfield, NJ 07004.
The Lost Art of Steam Heating, Dan Holohan, 516-579-3046 FAX
Principles of Steam Heating, Dan Holohan, technical editor of Fuel Oil and Oil Heat magazine, 389 Passaic Ave., Fairfield, NJ 07004 ($12.+1.25 postage/handling).
"Residential Hydronic (circulating hot water) Heating Systems", Instructional Technologies Institute, Inc., 145 "D" Grassy Plain St., Bethel, CT 06801 800/227-1663 [home inspection training material] 1987
"Warm Air Heating Systems". Instructional Technologies Institute, Inc., 145 "D" Grassy Plain St., Bethel, CT 06801 800/227-1663 [home inspection training material] 1987
Heating, Ventilating, and Air Conditioning Volume I, Heating Fundamentals,
Boilers, Boiler Conversions, James E. Brumbaugh, ISBN 0-672-23389-4 (v. 1) Volume II, Oil, Gas, and Coal Burners, Controls, Ducts, Piping, Valves, James E. Brumbaugh, ISBN 0-672-23390-7 (v. 2) Volume III, Radiant Heating, Water Heaters, Ventilation, Air Conditioning, Heat Pumps, Air Cleaners, James E. Brumbaugh, ISBN 0-672-23383-5 (v. 3) or ISBN 0-672-23380-0 (set) Special Sales Director, Macmillan Publishing Co., 866 Third Ave., New York, NY 10022. Macmillan Publishing Co., NY
Installation Guide for Residential Hydronic Heating Systems
Installation Guide #200, The Hydronics Institute, 35 Russo Place, Berkeley Heights, NJ 07922
The ABC's of Retention Head Oil Burners, National Association of Oil Heat Service Managers, TM 115, National Old Timers' Association of the Energy Industry, PO Box 168, Mineola, NY 11501. (Excellent tips on spotting problems on oil-fired heating equipment. Booklet.)
"Scale formation in water heaters and methods of prevention", Krappe,
Justus Maximilian, Engineering experiment station. Gas engineering
bulletin; no. 6; Research series; no. 74; On cover: Engineering
bulletin, Purdue university. Vol. xxiv, no.
3a. June, 1940 (Layfayette Indiana) commonly referred to in some references as "Purdue University Bulletin No. 74" - thanks to researcher Robyn Goldstein for the full citation. LCCN: 40028844 & OCLC: 1038544 - Water analysis, water softening, hot-water supply. 27pages. You can obtain this document through your local library.
(full copy file at InspectAPedia 3/31/2010)
Purdue B074 can be hard to locate online.
Also Bradford White Corporation (a manufacturer of water heaters) has published excerpts from that document, available at Purdue_B074_BradfordW.pdf
Books & Articles on Building & Environmental Inspection, Testing, Diagnosis, & Repair
The ILLUSTRATED HOME illustrates construction details and building components, a reference for owners & inspectors. Special Offer: For a 5% discount on any number of copies of the Illustrated Home purchased as a single order Enter INSPECTAILL in the order payment page "Promo/Redemption" space.
TECHNICAL REFERENCE GUIDE to manufacturer's model and serial number information for heating and cooling equipment, useful for determining the age of heating boilers, furnaces, water heaters is provided by Carson Dunlop, Associates, Toronto - Carson Dunlop Weldon & Associates Special Offer: Carson Dunlop Associates offers InspectAPedia readers in the U.S.A. a 5% discount on any number of copies of the Technical Reference Guide purchased as a single order. Just enter INSPECTATRG in the order payment page "Promo/Redemption" space.
The HOME REFERENCE BOOK - the ENCYCLOPEDIA of HOMES, Carson Dunlop & Associates, Toronto, Ontario, 25th Ed., 2012, is a bound volume of more than 450 illustrated pages that assist home inspectors and home owners in the inspection and detection of problems on buildings. The text is intended as a reference guide to help building owners operate and maintain their home effectively. Field inspection worksheets are included at the back of the volume.
Special Offer: For a 10% discount on any number of copies of the Home Reference Book purchased as a single order. Enter INSPECTAHRB in the order payment page "Promo/Redemption" space. InspectAPedia.com editor Daniel Friedman is a contributing author.
Special Offer: Carson Dunlop Associates offers InspectAPedia readers in the U.S.A. a 5% discount on these courses: Enter INSPECTAHITP in the order payment page "Promo/Redemption" space. InspectAPedia.com editor Daniel Friedman is a contributing author.
The HORIZON SOFTWARE SYSTEM manages business operations,scheduling, & inspection report writing using Carson Dunlop's knowledge base & color images. The Horizon system runs on always-available cloud-based software for office computers, laptops, tablets, iPad, Android, & other smartphones