Furnace maintenance is particularly important at this time of year since a broken or inefficient heating unit can cost you money on your energy bills and make your home unlivable when the weather gets cold. Thankfully, keeping your furnace running smoothly and efficiently is easier than you might think—as long as you follow a few key steps. Here are some top furnace maintenance tips to keep you and your family cozy this winter:
1. Give your unit a once-over
The first thing you need to do when maintaining your furnace is a spot-check of the entire system. Visually check your furnace for any signs of damage—warning signs generally include combustion residue or soot around the unit, cracks in your ducts, and debris around the flue and/or vents. Make sure the pilot light is on and that the flame is a steady blue, not flickering yellow or orange. Finally, don’t forget to inspect exterior vents and the portions of your HVAC systems that are kept outside since any debris or buildup of leaves, snow, and ice can wreak havoc on your system over the winter and make your unit unusable in the spring and summer months.
2. Clean out your vents
Although it may seem obvious, cleaning the heating vents around your home is one of the most important regular furnace maintenance jobs you can do and requires little to no specialist knowledge. In order to keep your furnace running efficiently throughout the winter, make sure to vacuum your floor vents and remove dust and debris from all of your vents throughout the house. In addition to helping your furnace work better, this basic cleaning task will drastically improve the air quality in your home (a dirty furnace vent will just blow dust and other particles around your home whenever the heating comes on).
3. Inspect furnace filters
If you don’t mind doing some DIY furnace maintenance, you can inspect and clean the filters inside your furnace on your own. However, before you open your furnace unit, make sure it is completely cooled and switched off. Disposable filters—usually made from fiberglass or pleated fabric paper—should be changed around every three months, while permanent filters should be washed and cleaned regularly during the heating season as best practice.
4. Bring in a professional
There are countless step-by-step tutorials across the internet that can help you complete your regular furnace maintenance on your own. However, if DIY repairs are not your strong suit, you can always call your HVAC professional to come and check out your furnace. In fact, an annual furnace maintenance completed by a professional is often recommended over DIY repairs, since HVAC is such a specialized and potentially dangerous field. Professionals are trained to safely check and repair your furnace regardless of its current state, and an annual maintenance visit won’t break the bank (costing roughly $100 per visit, depending on the area you live in and the type of furnace you have).
5. Protect your home
After you’ve successfully inspected, cleaned, and repaired your furnace, you can further ensure that your home is safe by installing a carbon monoxide detector near your HVAC unit. In addition to a smoke or heat detector, a carbon monoxide detector is essential for any homes that are heated with gas (remember that this also applies to fireplaces.) Simply place the detector near your furnace (see instructions for specific placement distances) and turn it on, making sure to test it regularly.
Now that you’ve taken all necessary winter prep precautions, you can enjoy a cup of hot chocolate in front of the fireplace