As winter time approaches, and temperatures begin to drop, the desire to dust off that heater and crank it up will begin to set in. Except for a few months out of the year, most furnaces go relatively unused for extended periods of time, so it's always a good idea to service your furnace and air ducts before being put to use to ensure everything is as operational, safe, and efficient as possible. However, if you're unfamiliar with HVAC systems, even performing the most basic servicing can seem like a daunting task. Therefore, to better prepare you for the coming winter months, this article will go over some easy tips for servicing your furnace and heating system.
While a HVAC specialist can certainly help ensure your furnace and air ducts are operating optimally, there are a few simple checks you can also do on your own at home. Below you'll find a few useful tips for servicing your furnace and surrounding air ducts.
- Change the filters - Nearly every modern furnace is installed with an air filter to help cleanse the outside air before it gets heated and pushed through the air ducts. Over time, contaminants such as debris, dander, and pollen can clog the air filter, causing air blockages and an inefficient use of the system. It is recommended to replace your filter(s) before firing up your heating system after a prolonged period of rest. Some filters can be cleaned and reused, but most require new filters every 1–3 months.
- Clear the surrounding area - Furnaces and the surrounding ducts can get quite hot when in use, so clearing the immediate area of any objects is recommended. Storage boxes, insulation, clutter, and even cobwebs can warm up and catch fire, so by cleaning the surrounding area of excess debris, you can help keep your home safe.
- Watch for carbon monoxide - Most furnaces produce carbon monoxide as a byproduct from the combustion process of heating the air. If the exhaust port of your furnace becomes blocked, excess carbon monoxide can build up and be pushed through with the heated air. Therefore, installing carbon monoxide detectors near the furnace's base, as well as throughout the residence, can help keep you and your family safe.
- Inspect the furnace - Most modern furnace systems have panels that easily slide off for inspection. Remove all necessary panels and clean out the blower, motor, belts, and pulleys. Dirt is often the main contributing factor for early furnace failures, so by keeping all parts clean, you can help ensure the longevity of your appliance.
- Inspect and clean your ducts - Just like the filters in your furnace, air ducts are also susceptible to clogs and blockages. Inspect your exit vents by removing the face plates and check to see if there is a significant amount of dust and debris built up inside the ducts. Fiberglass air ducts are more prone to dust buildup than sheet metal, but both can become clogged over time. Dead insects and rodents, and their feces, can also make their way into your ducts, so keep an eye out for any other types of foreign contaminants. If you suspect your vents are significantly clogged, a HVAC specialist should be able to help purge your ventilation ducts of excessive buildup.
As you progress through the winter season, ensuring your heating and ventilation systems are in top working order can help keep your energy costs down, your air healthy, and your home safe. However, while the functional premise behind a heating system is relatively simple, keep in mind that this appliance is still quite intricate, and can cause expensive repair bills if not maintained properly. So remember, if you're unsure about any part of the servicing process regarding your specific model, consider contacting a HVAC specialist such as Just In Time Furnace Inc. instead.