Furnace Maintenance Tips

By HomeAdvisor

Updated March 10, 2017

Furnace & A/C unit in attic
Nobody wants to think about a furnace heater when it’s still warm and sunny outside, but winter is never that far away, and servicing a heating system now will ensure that the heat will click on when you want it to.

Furnace Check-up

A furnace check-up or tune-up is much like a visit to the doctor or taking your car to a mechanic. However, specifically in the case of your home, a furnace check-up consists of the following steps:

  • Inspect thermostat for proper operation.
  • Inspect filter and change or clean as needed.
  • Check all electrical components and controls.
  • Oil motors as needed.
  • Inspect heat exchanger for possible cracks. A crack in the heat exchanger will introduce carbon monoxide into the living space.
  • Check air flow. If diminished, it may be necessary to clean the evaporator coil.
  • Check air fuel mixture, where appropriate.

Furnace Maintenance

While having your furnace tuned and checked each year before the cold weather is wise practice, there are also a few things you can do to assure that your furnace is operating properly, safely, and to its fullest capacity.

  • The very first thing to check before turning on your unit is to make sure nothing flammable has been stored next to the furnace over the summer. Many, many people have set their weedeaters, lawnmowers, and gas cans against their furnace in the garage. This is just asking for a fire or an explosion.
  • Run your heater for a few minutes before you actually need it. Waiting until the first cold morning to discover it isn’t working will land you at the bottom of a waiting list before a heating and air specialist can come to fix it.
  • Change the filters regularly. Dirty filters restrict air flow, reducing efficiency and worst case, can cause the heat exchanger to overheat. Disposable fiberglass filters should be replaced.
  • Electrostatic or electronic filters need to be washed regularly.
  • Be sure all access panels are secure, with all the screws in place.
  • Be sure the thermostat is set in the heating mode. Just setting the dial above room temperature will not activate the heat if still set in the air conditioning mode.

Things You Should Know About Your Furnace

Many homeowners find that when they turn their furnace on for the first time that it emits a noxious smell. This is not Carbon Monoxide. Carbon Monoxide is odorless, so you wouldn’t be able to smell it even if it was. What is happening here is that dust has settled on the heat exchanger over the summer and turning on the unit for the first time is just burning off the dust. Be sure to open some windows to dispel the odor quickly.

If your furnace is over 15 years old, even if it runs well, you can save money by replacing it. If you plan to replace the unit because of age or other reasons, do your research on the best one for your home. Many units come with warranties that provide added incentive for someone to buy your home, if you are planning to sell within the next few years. There are also models that work best in your climate or in your particular situation, and just by doing a few hours of research on-line or with a manufacturer can save you a great deal of money, if not up front then over the long haul.

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