Step-by-Step Furnace Maintenance
When the winter months hit, the last thing you want to worry about is waking up in the morning to an ice-cold house and a broken furnace. With a little preventative maintenance, you can keep your furnace running safely and efficiently for a few more years.
If your furnace is malfunctioning, don’t ignore it because it can be dangerous. If you don’t know what to look for, or what you’re doing, you could miss the signs of frozen pipes, damaged ducts, gas leaks, or fires — all of which can lead to an explosion if you miss the signs. So, that’s why we’re here — to make preventative maintenance a bit easier and show you what signs to look for in your old furnace.
Before you do anything, like clean your furnace, make sure you first, turn off your gas and secondly, turn off the power to your furnace. And, if for any reason, you are nervous, don’t take the chance of doing it yourself — call an HVAC professional. They’ll be able to determine if you have a gas leak or any other problem with your furnace.
Step 1: Make sure your thermostat is functioning properly.
Before you start trying to diagnose the problem, check to see if your thermostat is working properly. Remember, your thermostat controls when your furnace will turn on or off, so if there’s something wrong with the thermostat, automatically, your furnace won’t function properly as a result. To test your thermostat, adjust the temperature and see if you hear when the furnace turns on or off.
Note: New thermostats have programmable settings to create a more consistent and energy efficient environment.
Step 2: Replace filter regularly and keep the filter system clean.
Another common issue with furnaces are clogged filters. Once you replace the filter with a new (and unclogged) one, then make sure you start a routine of checking to see if it’s clean. The filter replacement is not expensive, and once you have replaced the filter, you’ll notice the furnace will have less dust and dirt — thus less in the air it emits. Keeping the filter clean will also prevent any damages that it might have otherwise caused in the future.
Step 3: Vacuum out the blower assembly, gas burners, vents, and fan.
The blower assembly, or the furnace’s hair dryer (has the same job), sits next to the filter, and is the next thing you’ll want to check. Again, dust and dirt like to pack into the furnace (including the blower assembly) and if left unclogged can lead to damage.
Again, don’t forget to turn off both the gas and the power to the furnace before you start inspecting your furnace. To clean the blower assembly, first remove the panels covering the filter, then you can use a vacuum to get the majority of the debris and wipe the rest off with a damp cloth. Do this process for the fan components and the vents. Remember, dirt and dust are bad.
Step 4: Inspect and clean ducts to prevent clogs and leaks.
Because dirt and dust are bad, you’ll want to see if they’re hanging out in the furnace ducts also — especially if you have a gas furnace, which forces the air out of the furnace. To clean this you can use a high-powered vacuum cleaner with a long extension. Once you’ve finished cleaning, Also, check the ducts to make sure they’re properly sealed and connected. If the ducts look damaged, or you’re concerned, contact your local and certified HVAC professional.
Signs Your Furnace Needs Maintenance
If you have an old furnace or a brand new furnace, you should always create a routine check to help prevent dust build up and future maintenance issues. And, if you’re still not sure what you should be looking for, here are those signs we told you about:
- Strange noises (banging, rumbling, hissing)
- Constant increase in your energy bills
- Improper burning pilot flame (should be a strong blue flame, NOT an orange or yellow flame)
- Trouble starting
- Starting and stopping
- Age (furnaces have an average lifespan of about 12-15 years, so after a certain age you’ll expect malfunctions, but stay alert)
Whether you’re in need of a whole new furnace, or just need help with some regular maintenance to keep your furnace running in tip top shape, our highly trained HVAC professionals at A/C Masters are here to help.