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Damon Bennett helps you keep the heat in this Winter

Celebrity contractor Damon Bennett answers your home reno questions

Q. What are some common winter furnace issues that a first-time homeowner should be aware of?

You want to make sure your furnace is not leaking on the inside. If you see any rust or corrosion, you may want to consider having it inspected. If you ever smell gas, call an HVAC person right away. Carbon monoxide detectors are very important. They can save your life. Have one on every floor of your house and test them every season to be certain they are in working order. Check your outside vents, keep them clear of debris, snow and nesting critters. Faulty thermostats are also a common source of heating problems. If your room temperature isn’t matching the thermostat setting, if your furnace is cycling on and off too frequently (or continuously) or if you find the temperature is fluctuating drastically, your thermostat could be malfunctioning. Pilot light or ignition problems are also very common. When your heat suddenly goes off, or isn’t coming on, your pilot light could be malfunctioning. Airflow problems can cause some rooms to be warmer or colder than others. This is often caused by clogged or dirty filters and coils. Having your HVAC system maintained biannually can help prevent most furnace issues and will keep you warm all winter long.

Q. Our bedroom over the garage is always cold. What could be causing this?

If this room is also very warm in the summer, it could mean you have a lack of insulation. Thanks to thermal imaging cameras, we no longer need to tear down walls to find the source of the cold. These days anyone with a smartphone can buy a SEEK thermal imaging camera for $300 that attaches to your device and will show you where all the cold spots are in your room. Check the windows as well as they are a very common source of heat loss. You also want to check the insulation in your attic. You need at least an R40 to help prevent ice damming on your roof during the winter. If it looks like it’s an insulation issue, you will need to decide whether you want to tackle this yourself or hire a contractor.

Q. My windows seem to be foggy on the inside, what could be causing this?

This is a good indication that there is a leak in your window seal, meaning there is no longer any thermal value between the panes of glass. If you live somewhere with a moderate climate, this isn’t much of an issue; however in colder climates, it can contribute to heat loss and increased heating costs. You have a few options: hire a Glazier to replace the glass portion of your window, find a window company that repairs window seals (when done properly the window will be defogged, cleaned, and resealed, you should hardly be able to detect that any work was done), or replace the window with a new one. This is the most expensive option and not very desirable in the middle of winter.

Q. Our house doesn’t have a shut-off valve for our outside tap. Should we be worried about pipes freezing?

Absolutely! I highly recommend getting a plumber in as soon as possible to have a valve installed so you can turn your outside tap off during the winter months. When pipes burst, the damage can be catastrophic: flooded basements, damaged drywall and insulation are just the tip of the iceberg. The cost of having a valve installed will be minimal in comparison to what it could be in the worst-case scenario. Prevention is always the best option.