The Easy 8-Step Furnace Tune-up
Proper maintenance of your forced-air heating system will prevent costly repairs, extend the life of your furnace and maximize efficiency. Fortunately, a do-it-yourself heating system tune-up is simple.
- Change the air filter regularly.
If your home has a furnace that blows warm air through vents on the floor, wall or ceiling, it also has an air filter. The filter might be inside the furnace, but often it’s located in the cold air return duct near the furnace. Some filters are disposable while others can be cleaned and reused.
Air filters should be replaced a minimum of every three months. If the furnace is used daily, or if you live in a dusty environment or with several pets, you should replace it monthly. Consult your furnace owner’s manual as well as the filter manufacturer packaging for recommendations.
- Periodically check to make sure all heating system vents and registers are obstruction free for proper air flow.
- Make sure that all flammable materials are moved at least three feet (or about one meter) from your furnace.
- Relocate chemicals such as cleaning products, solvents and paint to other rooms away from the furnace.
- Clean out the furnace.
Follow your furnace owner’s manual for proper instructions on removing your furnace’s access panels. Use your vacuum cleaner to remove dust and debris that may have settled inside of and immediately surrounding the furnace.
- Inspect ductwork for air leaks.
Seal with foil duct tape designed for furnaces; you’ll find this at hardware stores. Note that this differs from common, gray duct tape.
- Hire the pros for an annual checkup.
Furnace manufacturers recommend a professional inspection annually. In the winter months, many heating and cooling companies heavily market inspection services. The thoroughness of these inspections varies widely so be sure to ask for details. An annual checkup should include testing and inspection of major components such as thermostat operation, heat exchanger, gas connections, blower, etc. Every two or three years have the furnace inspector also check the ductwork to see if there is dust buildup; hire professional ventilation cleaners to remove the dust, dirt and other impurities from your ductwork. This is particularly important for people with allergies.
- Pay attention to appearance and performance.
Though furnaces are generally located in low-traffic areas, make a point to pay attention to your furnace’s appearance and performance. If you find any combustion residue or soot on or around the furnace, or if the burner flame is any color other than blue, call a heating and cooling technician as soon as possible. If there are changes in furnace performance (i.e. noise or the amount of time the furnace runs), check out our furnace troubleshooting and repair help.
Remember to install and regularly test smoke and carbon monoxide detectors. Mark battery replacement on your calendar and always, always do it.
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