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This content was produced by Boston Globe Media's BG BrandLab in collaboration with the advertiser. The news and editorial departments of The Boston Globe had no role in its production or display.

How to be a smarter homeowner

Learning the basics about your home’s plumbing, heating, and air conditioning systems will save you stress, time, and money.

 

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What kind of heating system do you have?
The first step toward being a smarter homeowner is knowing exactly what type of heating system your home has. There are two types of heating systems found in most homes: a boiler or a furnace. A boiler is a container of water with a flame underneath. Once heated, the water circulates through pipes to your baseboard or radiators. A furnace is like the heat in your car, it blows heated air through ductwork and out vents throughout your home.

How often should you have it checked?
To ensure each heating system runs properly—to avoid costly repairs in the future—both boilers and furnaces should be checked annually by a professionals. For boilers, have a professional evaluate it to ensure it’s tuned correctly and burning safely. For furnaces, have a technician ensure the coils are clean.

Would you know how to shut off your water in an emergency?
This is the one critical thing homeowners should know. Since boilers rely on pipes full of water, if there is a leak or no heat and the pipes freeze—putting them at risk for rupturing—you’ll want to turn off the water at the emergency shutoff to limit potential water damage. Learn where it is, and how to shut it off.

Also, boilers need to breathe, so ensure there’s enough room in its surrounding area to allow for proper air flow. Check the pipes for rust or corrosion on a regular basis.

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How old is too old?
MassSave considers boilers older than 18 years to be too old and ripe for replacement. The Early Boiler Replacement program has some of the largest rebates available.

What if I have a furnace, not a boiler?
To keep your furnace running smoothly, it’s recommended to change the filter every 4-6 weeks to protect the system as a whole. Also, check your CO detectors often to ensure they’re working properly. Mass Save considers any furnace beyond 12 to 15 years old ready for replacement.

My home has hot and cold spots. What’s causing that?
Make sure the ducts running throughout your home are completely sealed. On average, 30 cents of every $1 you spend on heating and cooling your home disappears into thin air because of duct leaks. This loss of air is not only expensive, it causes those hot and cold pockets. And worse, poor air quality is caused by dust, mold, and other pollutants getting pulled into the air circulating throughout your home.

What about my plumbing?
The average lifespan of a water heater is 6 to 9 years. Once your water heater falls within this age span, start checking for leaks. Because when a water heater quits, it often dumps all of its water out at once, which can lead to severe water damage.

No leaks? Great. Look for signs of corrosion around all of your plumbing—around faucets, sinks and toilets—because leaks may steam before hitting the ground. No puddle doesn’t mean no leak. Corrosion can often appear as rust or a white/green residue. 

Be proactive, not reactive
Replacing equipment on your terms, and your schedule (with MassSave rebates!) is a lot easier and more cost effective than reacting to an emergency — especially if that emergency occurs in the middle of an ice storm or a heat wave.

If you are due for maintenance or would like to learn about a system replacement click here for more information.

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This content was produced by Boston Globe Media's BG BrandLab in collaboration with the advertiser. The news and editorial departments of The Boston Globe had no role in its production or display.