It’s never fun to have your furnace stop working in the middle of winter. Not only are you cold and uncomfortable in your own house, but repairs and replacements are significantly more expensive in the colder months. That’s why furnace maintenance is one of the most crucial tasks on your winter prep checklist. And the earlier you get started, the better.
But when should you get your furnace checked? And what steps can you take to keep it running smoothly after the inspection? This guide will explain everything you need to know about how to check your furnace before winter so you can start the season in comfort.
Are Annual Furnace Inspections Really Necessary?
Yes, a yearly inspection is necessary for ensuring your furnace works as it should. It’s common for homeowners to ignore furnace maintenance throughout the summer, only to discover issues when they finally turn it on for the winter. These issues can range from minor ones like energy inefficiency to huge ones, like a furnace that simply doesn’t function.
Regularly inspecting and servicing your furnace eliminates any surprises that may pop up when you first turn your furnace on for the season. A yearly HVAC inspection will identify issues such as cracks or wear and tear to ensure your furnace is working optimally. Your technician will also inspect each furnace component to confirm that everything is in good working order and let you know if you need to replace your furnace any time soon.
How Do I Prepare My HVAC for Winter?
Fortunately, there are several steps you can take to ensure that your furnace will be fully functional when you need it most. Performing regular preventative maintenance will also help you anticipate future expenses and any repairs or replacements you’ll need to schedule.
These seven steps will help you prepare your furnace for the winter months.
1. Remove Clutter From Furnace Area
Most people have their furnaces in out-of-the-way storage areas like basements or closets. Before doing anything else with your furnace, remove any items from the surrounding area and ensure nothing is blocking the vents. A cluttered furnace area can pose a fire hazard and interfere with your furnace’s function.
2. Replace Your Furnace Air Filter
Regularly cleaning and replacing your air filters keeps dust particles out of your HVAC system, which keeps your air clean and extends your furnace’s life.
Recommended filter replacement intervals vary from source to source, but you should check them at least once a month. If you have central heating, you’ll want to change the filters more often during the summer. Refer to your owner’s manual for more information.
Here’s how to check your furnace air filter:
- Open the furnace door with a screwdriver to access the filter.
- Pull out the air filter and look at it back and front — the filter should be free of dust, so if it looks dusty, you’ll need to change it.
- If your furnace comes with reusable air filters, thoroughly wash and dry them.
3. Check Your Burners
Dust gathers on your furnace burners during the summer, so be sure to check and clean them before turning the furnace on. Dust buildup on your burners can cause an unpleasant dusty smell that can be difficult to get rid of.
You’ll also want to ensure the burners aren’t misaligned, rusty or deteriorating. If they look to be in poor condition, you may need to replace them.
4. Examine Your Furnace Blower and Motor
The blower and motor help circulate air through your home and ensure even heating. When these parts aren’t working correctly, you might feel cold even when the furnace is on.
Check your owner’s manual to find out if your motor needs lubrication. You’ll typically need to grease the blower once yearly to prevent rust, but your furnace manufacturer might recommend something different.
After turning the furnace on, stay alert for strange noises or smells emanating from the blower. If the sound or smell persists, it could indicate a serious problem that needs professional attention.
5. Test the Igniter Switch
First, check the switch for visible damage. If it looks chipped, cracked or otherwise damaged, you’ll need a replacement.
Older furnaces may require you to relight the pilot. Newer units typically have electronic igniters, so you should call for professional help if there’s an issue.
If you’re experiencing igniter issues, you can follow these troubleshooting steps:
- Push the reset button.
- Check to make sure your breakers are on.
- Test the igniter’s function with a multimeter, if possible.
If you go through these steps and the igniter still isn’t working, call a professional to take a look for you.
6. Switch Your Thermostat
Before you turn your furnace on, you need to switch your thermostat from cooling to heating. Set it a few degrees warmer than the current temperature to start.
If you can’t hear the heat kicking on, make sure the wire connections on your furnace are snug and secure and that the system’s power source is on. Call a professional if these issues persist.
7. Test the Furnace
It’s finally time to turn on the furnace and make sure everything is working correctly. Follow these steps to ensure a safe trial run:
- Turn the furnace on using your electrical panel.
- Check for unusual sounds and smells.
- Make sure the thermostat shows the house heating up.
- Check the carbon monoxide and radon detectors.
8. Book an Appointment Early
If you notice any major problems when you conduct this checklist or find that any of the furnace’s components are worn out, you will need to contact a professional.
It’s a good idea to make sure you get an appointment scheduled in advance to clean, inspect or repair your furnace if you need to. The closer it gets to winter, the busier your heating and cooling company will be, so it’s best to beat the rush and get this task out of the way.
Contact Tom Drexler Plumbing, Air & Electric for Furnace Maintenance Today
At Tom Drexler Plumbing, we aim to provide an excellent customer experience. You can count on our experienced HVAC technicians to help you diagnose and resolve any issues quickly and skillfully so you can rest easy year-round.
We’ll help you get ready for the snowy season. Schedule a service appointment online or give us a call at 502-716-5478 today.