A Hot Summer Tip

Gee, that could mean a tip that is hot during the summer. Or a hot tip that you’re being given during the summer. Or, a tip about summer while it’s hot.

Actually, all three could apply.

I like this little corner of the Internet to be amusing, to leave you with something to think about or to make your world somehow better. This week, as the smoke-filled skies of a sizzling Seattle summer begin making us yearn for the rain-filled months of fall right around the corner, I’d like to talk with you about your furnace or gas fireplace.

Congrats to those who opted to keep reading because you’ll thank me at the end of this.

Our house has a gas furnace and, in my little downstairs man-cave, a gas fireplace insert.  The other day, my always-cold wife Victoria flipped on the fireplace to take off the morning chill (I’ll bet it was down to 74 in the house) when it made a sputtering noise. That prompted a discussion that ended in the realization we have lived in this home for 10 years now and have never bothered to have the gas fireplace serviced.

Now, when it comes to something like that, there are two trains of thought: 1) Yep, I’m going to hire a professional to do it or 2) I’m not going to pay $100 for a guy to come out, vacuum the fireplace and tell me everything’s fine.  When it comes to anything natural gas, I always choose #1. Because possible mistakes could easily top the $100 you think you’re saving.

Why have your furnace or gas fireplace professionally cleaned and checked? Lots of reasons.

THE FURNACE

I called up one of the members of the Bothell Chamber, Sundance Energy, and they sent out a guy named Brian last year who cleaned our furnace, gave me some thoughts about the filters, made sure the pilot light and everything involved was running smooth and efficiently and then he was gone. We were left with an efficient furnace and the peace of mind that comes with knowing it was checked out.  $100 well spent.

THE FIREPLACE

OK, this is the one that inspired writing this piece for you.

  • First off, the glass was dirty. Brian (yes, he was back), properly cleaned it so it looks brand new. Why does it get dirty?  Because of the substance they add to natural gas to give it a smell, for safety’s sake. And when your fireplace isn’t burning efficiently, it leaves a residue on the glass.  He told me I could do it, but NOT to use Windex or any ammonia-based product. They have special non-scratch ceramic cleaners that take off the residue and leave your glass clear again. Good to know.
  • Another thing Brian noticed was that one of the artificial logs was upside down.  How would we have known? But because it was, it caused the flame to be higher, which also resulted in residue build up.  He vacuumed the heck out of it, correctly stacked the logs and then showed me the pilot light. When it was dirty, it had a white tip. Remove all that crap and a subtle blue flame appeared.  Plus, he turned down the flame which, of course, will save gas in the long run.
  • With tax, it came to $109 even. He said I was smart to book him in the summer, because come the fall and winter, the price goes up to $160 and it sometimes takes a couple of months for him to come by.
  • As a crowning touch, he even strategically added some fibrous material that, when the flame burns, gives the appearance of embers glowing.

So, there are lots of reasons to reach out to Sundance or your regular furnace company right now. It seems an out-of-season subject, but doing it now will definitely pay off for you in the months ahead.

By the way, my friends at Sundance are having a Grand Re-Opening next Thursday, August 17th, at their Bothell store, which was severely damaged in the great Bothell fire that almost wiped out downtown last year. The party starts at 5 and should be a lot of fun. If you go, I’ll see you there. And remember the rule–you need to have a swig of wine every time J.D. says the phrase, “ductless heat pump.”

Hopefully, they have air conditioning.

Tim Hunter

Our Shiny Clean Fireplace

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