Regular heater maintenance could be the difference between cold and comfort this winter. Plus, allowing your furnace to fall into neglect could also land you with a hefty repair bill, not to mention higher energy costs all season. To top it off, your heater is bound to fail years sooner if you don’t keep it properly maintained. Here are 11 furnace maintenance tips to follow if you want to keep your home warm and toasty until spring arrives.
Conduct a Visual Inspection
Start by giving your furnace a simple once-over. Do you see any loose or bent vent pipes? Are the condensate drain tubes in their proper position? Does anything look odd or out of place? If you scheduled furnace maintenance in the fall, things should still look pretty good. If not, this visual inspection may reveal that your furnace needs immediate attention.
Clean Dirt and Dust
While you should leave internal cleaning to a licensed HVAC technician, you can remove dirt and dust from the outside of your furnace. First, carefully loosen any debris with a soft-bristled brush. Then, use a handheld vacuum or the brush hose attachment to suck everything up.
Relocate Flammable Objects
You may think of the space around your furnace as a storage area, but heating systems need room to “breathe.” This means you should avoid storing anything within 10 to 15 feet of the unit. It’s especially critical to keep anything flammable away from your furnace, including paint cans, cleaning supplies, beauty products, and aerosol sprays.
Check and Change the Filter
Your visual inspection should include removing the furnace air filter from its slot and checking if it’s dirty. A clogged filter restricts airflow, so it’s important to replace it every one to three months for maximum efficiency and home comfort.
Don’t make the mistake of operating your furnace without an air filter. This could damage your heater by allowing stray particles to land on sensitive components. Plus, if your filter is efficient enough, it improves indoor air quality by trapping dust, pet dander, pollen, mold spores, and other allergens floating through the air. Replacing the filter is an easy, inexpensive way to keep your home warm and toasty all winter long.
Inspect Your Air Registers
For your furnace to work at its peak, heated air must circulate evenly throughout your home. Walk from room to room, checking the air vents to ensure the louvers are fully open and that curtains, furniture, and rugs don’t obstruct any of them. You may choose to close some vents to limit airflow in certain rooms, but be sure to keep at least 80% of your registers open at all times for proper system balance.
Seal and Insulate Your Home
Any weakness in your home’s outer envelope undermines furnace efficiency. The key to a warm and toasty home is to seal up air leaks and improve insulation wherever possible. Here are some ideas:
- Place draft snakes on windowsills and at the bottom of exterior doors.
- Caulk stationary joints around windows and door frames.
- Add weatherstripping to help windows and doors close more tightly.
- Seal attic floor penetrations with expanding spray foam.
- Add another layer of attic insulation.
- Seal around wiring, plumbing, exhaust vents, and other wall penetrations.
- Install foam gaskets in electrical outlets located on exterior walls.
- Seal and insulate any ductwork that travels through unconditioned areas, such as the attic, garage, or crawlspace.
Beware of Carbon Monoxide Poisoning
Combustion furnaces and other heating appliances produce carbon monoxide. As long as the flue vent is functioning normally, this toxic gas should vent harmlessly to the outside. To protect your family from CO poisoning, check that nothing is blocking the exhaust vent on the exterior of your home. Also, test your carbon monoxide detectors and smoke alarms to ensure your family is alerted of any dangerous CO leaks or fires.
Run Your Ceiling Fans in Reverse
Does your home have vaulted ceilings? If so, valuable heated air can become trapped above your head, leaving your family feeling chilly at ground level. The solution is to reverse the direction of your ceiling fans and run them on low. This circulates heated air back toward the floor without creating a drafty feeling.
Use Space Heaters Safely
Space heaters can supplement central heating when needed. To warm up your home safely, remember these tips:
- Don’t plug space heaters into extension cords or power strips.
- Keep space heaters at least three feet away from combustible objects.
- Never leave space heaters running unattended.
- Don’t run space heater cords under rugs, which could cause overheating.
Schedule Professional Furnace Maintenance
Even if you feel comfortable performing all of the above tasks, professional furnace maintenance is still recommended once a year. After all, you don’t have the training, know-how, or tools to perform important steps like adjusting the fan motor, testing the operating cycles, replacing fan belts, and cleaning the burner. Leave these tasks to a professional for the best results.
Consider Installing a New Furnace this Winter
Is your heater more than a decade old? If so, it might be less than 60% efficient. You could wait for the system to fail completely, followed by dealing with an emergency furnace replacement—or you could replace your ailing system this year and start enjoying lower heating bills, better reliability, and renewed warranty coverage without delay. Today’s high-end furnaces are up to 97% efficient, so you’ll notice the lower utility bills right away.
Contact Triple T Heating, Cooling & Plumbing
The team here at Triple T is prepared to help you keep your home warm and toasty with a 32-point HVAC system tune-up. With experience dating back to 1974, you can trust us to provide a job well done! For more heater maintenance tips or to schedule furnace services with an experienced technician, please contact us today. Call 801-798-7711 if you live in Utah County or 435-275-4011 if you’re a Washington County resident.