If you’ve had a home energy assessment before, you may have noticed that your energy specialist may ask you odd questions such as:
“How many bathroom fans do you have?”
“Does your kitchen fan vent to the exterior or just overhead?”
“Can you please turn the dryer on for me?”
While these questions may seem trivial, these and often many more considerations should be taken into account when performing a combustion safety test. The reason these are important considerations is that many heating systems found in homes these days are sensitive to what is referred to as depressurization. The depressurization of a home is caused by air either naturally or mechanically being taken out of the home. For atmospherically venting heating and hot water heating (meaning most systems that vent into a chimney), too much depressurization will actually overpower the heating system’s ability to move the exhaust up and out of the chimney! This results in back drafting also known as spillage, leaking toxic combustion byproducts such as carbon monoxide back into your living space.
There is naturally some level of depressurization that occurs as heat rises up and out of your home (known as the stack effect). With no mechanical fans running, this natural depressurization rarely causes heating system/hot water spillage issues. This fact is the basis for why we test heating systems under their worst-case depressurization, with all mechanical fans running. If a system is found to fail during this worst-case scenario, the customer is notified and corrective actions must be taken.
From a combustion safety standpoint, these considerations do not have an effect when you have a sealed combustion heating/hot water system. Sealed combustion exhausts are typically made out of PVC pipe, and will include an intake and exhaust port that run directly to the side of your home. When fresh air is supplied directly to the heating system, you don’t need to worry about the atmospheric natural venting as you do on older systems. The main advantages of these PVC-vented systems are:
They aren’t pulling air from your home, thus creating less negative pressure which is inherently pulling outdoor air into your living space
The more complete combustion leads to less heat via exhaust sent out of your home.
The more complete combustion leads to less pollutants in the exhaust, which is better for the environment.
Green Energy Gains can help you not only identify issues with your existing heating equipment’s exhaust system but also help recommend a style of replacement system that would be eligible for the Mass Save 7-year interest-free loan allowance. On top of the loan, high-efficiency systems are qualified for generous rebates that can really help take the sting out of replacing a heating system. Heating systems, especially in New England climates, are an extremely important part of your whole house’s energy efficiency and should be treated as such. Like the engine in a car, a home must supply energy to fulfill its purpose, and just like a car, it is wise to treat these large and integral components with care and ensure they are running at peak performance to save headaches down the line.
Please reach out to us directly if you have any interest or questions about your existing heating system and what can be done to facilitate a cost-effective upgrade. We would be happy to perform a no-cost energy assessment to test your system and give you an impartial opinion about upgrading that you can use to start shopping for upgrades!