Crisp fall weather is a welcome change from the heat of summer. However, as soon as the weather turns bitter, your furnace suddenly becomes the most important appliance in your home. Don’t get left out (or in) the cold—keep your furnace running smoothly all winter long by maintaining it before the first arctic storm blows in.
Pre-Winter Furnace Maintenance Checklist for Homeowners
There are plenty of things you can do as a homeowner to prepare for colder weather. Make sure these items are on your furnace maintenance checklist:
- Replace the furnace filter: As the heating system circulates air, dust, fibers, pet dander, and other airborne particles build up on the filter. Over time, these particles begin to block airflow, forcing the furnace to work harder and raising your energy bills. Stay on top of this by checking and changing the filter at the start of the heating season.
- Adjust the thermostat to the correct winter settings: If you don’t already have a programmable thermostat, install one. Then, program the settings to match your winter schedule.
- Open all return and supply registers: If you closed the air vents over the summer, reopen them before running the furnace. Also, make sure no furniture, rugs, or curtains block the airflow.
- Examine the burner flames: They should be a steady blue color. If you see orange or yellow flickering flames, turn off the furnace and call a heating professional to make an adjustment.
- Listen for strange noises: If you hear booming, clicking, squealing, or other odd sounds, ask a technician for guidance.
- Pay attention to any odd odors: A rotten egg smell could indicate a natural gas leak. Exit your house immediately and call the fire department followed by an HVAC company.
Furnace Inspection Checklist for Technicians
While you can do a lot to get the furnace ready for winter, you should also call a professional heating technician to conduct more thorough furnace maintenance. Here are the items on an annual furnace inspection checklist:
- Inspect and replace the air filter. If you prefer, you can leave this task to an HVAC technician. Just remember to continue checking the filter once a month and replacing it as needed throughout the winter. If you’re not sure how, ask your technician to show you.
- Inspect and clean the air ducts if needed to remove allergens for better airflow and improved indoor air quality.
- Check and adjust the fan switch to ensure the furnace moves air at the ideal velocity. This is most likely to require an adjustment if you upgrade to a more efficient air filter.
- Check and adjust the pilot light to prevent false readings from the flame sensor and promote efficient burner ignition.
- Lubricate the bearings to reduce friction and provide smoother furnace operation.
- Inspect and tighten the fan belts and pulleys if needed to prevent them from snapping and potentially damaging other furnace components. This simple step can prevent costly furnace repairs later in the season.
- Vacuum dust and debris from the unit to help it operate like new.
- Remove and clean dirty burners to improve heat transfer efficiency.
- Inspect vent and flue pipes for obstructions to prevent backdrafting of combustion fumes that could endanger your family’s health.
- Check gas lines for leaks to ensure safe furnace operation all winter long.
If your heating bills are higher this winter than you think they should be, now could be a good time to schedule a home energy audit. In the meantime, make sure your furnace is running as efficiently as possible with annual maintenance from Aire Serv®. To schedule an appointment, please contact us!