HOMEFINDER: Regular maintenance sometimes overlooked

Fall is the time to service your home's heat sources

A fireplace, topped by an awe-inspiring mantel, can be a deciding factor for many potential home buyers. Especially now, as brisk fall nights leave many imagining themselves curled up in front of roaring fire as the hint of winter nips at noses.

While romantic notions can fuel the image of a dream home, potential buyers need to remember the maintenance aspects that go along with their heating sources said Dean Ford, owner of Langford-based Essential Air Ltd. and the Aire Serv Greater Victoria franchise, which operates his maintenance programs. Ford is also the Highlands Fire Chief, so he knows first hand what can happen if units aren’t looked after properly.

And now is the time to have those fireplaces, furnaces, chimneys and heating ducts serviced. Ford said you want to make sure everything is up and running now before the temperatures drop and you need your heat.

“It’s not something that’s pretty, but it’s the bones of your house,” he said, adding that maintenance is key for keeping those integral systems working correctly. “The smaller problems with systems are what create bigger problems.”

He compared it to servicing a car: if your oil isn’t changed regularly it can lead to the motor failing. The same logic can be applied to heating systems. Ford said if they aren’t maintained, not only will their efficiency go down, they are also more likely to fail.

He recommended that heat pumps be serviced twice a year; furnaces, fireplaces, chimneys and ducting once a year. Companies like his offer customers a discount and preferred scheduling when they sign up for a regular maintenance package.

He added for those that own wood burning stoves the most important thing to remember is to have a working carbon monoxide detector in the house. But he said that could just be the firefighter in him talking.

Ford also said for those interested in or thinking about upgrading their heating systems there are a number of alternatives to baseboard heating.


Q: Should I upgrade my heating system?

There are a number of grants available, usually offered in partnership by Fortis B.C. and B.C. Hydro.

One of the big ones is a roughly $800 rebate for homeowners converting from baseboard heating to a heat pump. Dean Ford, owner at Essential Air Ltd., said heat pumps can save roughly 50 per cent on hydro bills over baseboard heaters.

Another rebate offers up to $1,700 for homeowners wishing to convert from oil to a heat pump, which is three times more efficient, Ford said.



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