How to Prepare Your HVAC Furnace for Winter

Although you may not think about furnace maintenance now, fall is the ideal time to check your HVAC furnace and ensure that it is in optimal condition for the winter months ahead. Nothing is Worse than waking up on a winter morning to a frigid house resulting from a furnace that won't turn on. By preparing your furnace, you can circumvent many of the problems that can cause it to suddenly stop working. The exact routine you should follow for your furnace depends on manufacturer recommendations, but here are some general rules that you should follow to make sure you wake warm and toasty on cold winter days.

Give Your Furnace Some TLC

Just like with the cooling side of your HVAC unit, the heating side should undergo regular maintenance that you, as a homeowner, can regularly perform. Continue to clean or replace your unit's filter. Even though your windows may be closed most of the time in cooler weather, dust, allergens, and particulates will continue to circulate through the system. Regularly changing your filters gives your unit a boost as it doesn't have to work as hard to circulate warm air through your home.

Similarly, keep the area around your furnace clean. By sweeping often and removing debris, you'll help keep the filter clean and lessen the chance of fire involving the furnace. No matter how often you sweep and change your filter, debris, dust and mold will accumulate in the air ducts and vents. If your ducts and vents haven't been professionally cleaned in several years, schedule one now to aid the operation of your system.

Schedule Preventive Maintenance Early in the Season

Have a professional HVAC technician clean and inspect your system. Although you can perform some minimal cleaning on your own, a professional will be able to reach areas that you can't and is trained to detect cracked and failing parts that could eventually result in a shutdown or result in dangerous situations such as carbon monoxide leaks.

A qualified technician will perform the following tasks to ensure that your system will work properly:

If your furnace is older, your technician may recommend repairs based on the inspection. Doing the repairs early will not only ensure that your home will remain safe, it will also help save on energy costs as a properly operating furnace is also more energy efficient.

  • Inspect the heat exchanger for cracks and deterioration, which can lead to emission of toxic fumes
  • Remove and clean burners
  • Check and adjust fan switch to avoid unnecessary cycling
  • Clean pilot and pilot assembly of excess dirt, which can cause the furnace to shut down
  • Inspect safety controls
  • Check for gas line leaks
  • Inspect combustion air openings and remove any restrictions
  • Check flue pipe for leaks
  • Check system temperature and overall performance for problems
  • Lubricate motors and bearings
  • Inspect and adjust belts and pulleys
  • Monitor and adjust voltage and amp draw, if necessary, of the blower motor, compressor and condenser fan motors
  • Check and calibrate the thermostat

More Ways to Aid Furnace Efficiency

Properly heating your home means more than just making sure that your furnace is operating properly. Homeowners can do a number of related tasks that will make the unit's job easier and extend its life.

Inspect Your Chimney

Schedule a chimney cleaning and inspection to remove build-up, of soot which can be a dangerous fire hazard. At the same time, make sure that the chimney is free of birds' nests and other debris.

Make Sure Air Vents are Not Obstructed

If you are like most homeowners, you move around furniture during the year. Take a few minutes to make sure that sofas, chairs, and tables are not obstructing airflow over vents.

Upgrade Your Insulation

Often homes are lacking proper insulation. Examine areas such as attics and basements to see where insulation may be improved and add as needed. Your furnace and electricity bill will thank you.

Install a Programmable Thermostat

If you don't already have one, a programmable thermostat is a great way to save wear and tear on your furnace. This simple device allows you to program temperatures so your unit works less when you are not home.


Categories: Heating & Cooling

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