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Low-Cost HVAC Preventive Maintenance: Preparing For The Heating Season Part II: Heating Start-Up

Posted by CLS Admin on October 02, 2013


When the temperature outside drops, the heat is on – literally and figuratively.

For building managers, colder weather signals the time to begin heating the buildings they manage. And heating places unique demands on a building’s HVAC equipment. Moreover, the array of system heating sources – natural gas, electric resistance, oil, propane and heat pumps, necessitate different approaches and strategies to start-up, operation – and preventive and ongoing maintenance.

A sound Preventive Maintenance (PM) program can keep HVAC equipment running smoothly and efficiently during the cold winter months, and all year round as well. In our last post, we provided a basic PM checklist for natural gas heating equipment. Now, we’d like to use that list as a baseline for the other heating sources, and provide add-on tips for each one based on their specific requirements.

Electric Heating

  • Replace air filters.
  • Check the thermostat operation.
  • Check the economizer operation.
  • Check the heating elements, the fan proving switch, the sequencers, and the temperature cut out switches, and tighten the electrical connections.
  • Check the operating and safety controls.

Oil Heating

  • Replace the air filters. 
  • Check the thermostat operation.
  • Check the economizer operation. 
  • Replace the oil filter.
  • Check for water in the tank.
  • Check the oil pump pressure.
  • Replace the nozzle.
  • Adjust the combustion air.
  • Check the heat exchanger. 
  • Check the oil pre-heater, if installed. 
  • Check the operating and safety controls.  

Propane Heating

  • Replace the air filters.
  • Check the thermostat operation.
  • Check the economizer operation.
  • Check for propane pressure, leaks and piping support(Propane is heavier than air and can settle into your building if leaks exist)

Heat Pumps

  • Replace air filters.
  • Check thermostat operation.
  • Check economizer operation.  Usually, heat pumps use electric resistance heat as a backup or second stage heating source.  First check the unit in the heating mode and then the cooling or defrost mode.  Verify correct refrigerant charge.  Check both inside and outside coil for cleanliness.  Determine type of defrost and check operation.  In the heating mode heat pumps are especially sensitive to dirty air filters in mild weather.

Consider Radiant Heat Systems As Well

Radiant heating is a type of heating that is gaining popularity, particularly in stand-alone retail stores. With radiant heating systems, plastic piping is installed in the floor of the store or in exterior sidewalks during construction. A boiler and circulating pump are then connected to the piping. The warm floor is a comfortable type of heating, and the water tracked into an interior space is evaporated quickly with warm floors. 

If you use radiant heating on your sidewalks, there will be little water or snow tracked into the interior space. Having a safe, dry, ice-free sidewalk encourages more traffic to your space in the winter and rainy season. This, in turn, creates good will that is carried over to warmer months.  Radiant heat in sidewalks also reduces liability and labor expense for snow and ice removal.


Next up: We’ll discuss potential energy savings from specific heating strategies. In the meantime, if you want to learn more about CLS’s national HVAC services call us at 800-548-3542.


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