Pre-Winter Furnace Maintenance Checklist

Check list with red pen

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 in the cold. Following our furnace maintenance checklist and conducting a thorough furnace inspection will keep your furnace running smoothly all winter long.

Importance of Routine Furnace Inspection

It’s easy to forget about your furnace until you’re freezing cold. However, conducting a routine furnace inspection in late summer is an important part of good furnace maintenance. It will ensure you have heat when you need it most, and without spending a fortune on emergency service. A well-maintained furnace runs more efficiently and saves you money on energy costs. It also keeps expensive repairs to a minimum. If a problem is discovered during a routine inspection, there is plenty of time to schedule professional furnace maintenance before you need to turn the heat on.

It's critical to perform regular furnace inspections and keep up with your homeowner’s furnace maintenance checklist. These practices keep your furnace at its best, extend its life, and comply with the requirements of the manufacturer's warranty, making future repairs less expensive.

Most important of all, regular maintenance ensures your family stays safe and comfortable all season long. Not only does a well-maintained furnace keep your loved ones warm, but it protects them by ensuring carbon monoxide is vented well away from your living quarters. If you ever doubt the safety of your heating unit, schedule a professional furnace inspection immediately.

Pre-Winter Furnace Maintenance Checklist for Homeowners

Routine furnace inspections will alert you to any serious issues requiring professional maintenance or repair. Following a homeowner’s furnace maintenance checklist will keep your heating system running efficiently and safely during the most demanding time of the year.

While most furnace repairs should be entrusted to professionals, homeowners can perform certain maintenance tasks to prepare for colder weather. These furnace maintenance tasks will ensure your heating system runs more efficiently and affordably. Make sure these items are on your furnace maintenance checklist:

  • Replace the furnace filter: As the heating system circulates air, buildup forms on the filter from dust, fibers, pet dander, and other airborne particles. Over time, these particles block airflow, forcing the furnace to work harder and raising your energy bills. Stay on top of this with furnace inspections and filter replacements every few months of use, checking and changing the filter at the start of the heating season is also a recommended best practice.
  • 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. Eventually, these smart devices pay for themselves by maintaining a more consistent temperature throughout the year.
  • Open all return and supply registers: If you closed the air vents over the summer, reopen them before running the furnace. Also, check the vents to make sure no furniture, rugs, boxes, 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 for a furnace inspection and any necessary adjustments.
  • Listen for strange noises: If you hear your furnace booming, clicking, squealing, or making other odd sounds, ask a professional for guidance.
  • Pay attention to any strange odors: A rotten egg smell coming from the furnace could indicate a natural gas leak. Exit your house immediately, then call the fire department and an HVAC company to investigate further.

Furnace Inspection Checklist for Service Professionals

Following your furnace maintenance checklist can do a lot to get your system ready for winter. But you should call a heating professional to perform a thorough furnace inspection and maintenance. Here are the essential items on an annual furnace inspection and maintenance checklist:

  • Inspect and replace the air filter. If you prefer, leave the first task on your furnace maintenance checklist to an HVAC professional. Just remember to continue checking the filter once a month and replace it as needed throughout the winter. If you’re not sure how to do that, ask your service professional 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 will most likely 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 furnace inspection step can prevent costly 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 a backdraft of combustion fumes that could endanger your family’s health.
  • Check gas lines for leaks to ensure safe furnace operation all winter long.

Making time to follow a furnace maintenance checklist and professional furnace inspection ensures your heating system will keep your family comfortable and safe. Problems can be discovered, addressed, and rectified while conducting routine maintenance. This saves you money and stress by reducing the need for major repairs or a complete furnace replacement.

Furnace Air Filter Maintenance

Inspecting the air filter is the first item on our furnace maintenance checklist because it is so critical to performance. Regular air filter replacement is essential, whether your furnace is electric or burns natural gas, propane, or oil. The furnace air filter collects dust, dirt particles, pet dander, and other allergens, preventing them from recirculating in the air produced by your central heating and cooling system. This is essential for maintaining good air quality in your home. The filter is located in the return air duct, where the fan draws air in for recirculation.

You should replace your system’s air filter every two to three months of use. If you live in a very mild climate and only use your furnace for heating during the coldest months, you may only need to replace the filter once a year. However, if you have central cooling and heating, your air filter is working all year long, so replace it every few months as part of your furnace maintenance checklist. Write the replacement date on the filter so you know how long it has been in use. You can also add a reminder in your phone to replace the filter every few months.

Gas Furnace Maintenance

While most furnaces in the U.S. burn natural gas, there are other types that use oil, propane, or electricity to operate. Regardless of which type you have, they all need regular furnace inspections and maintenance. Aire Serv Heating & Air Conditioning professionals are trained to handle all types of furnaces, as well as other heating options, like heat pumps and boilers.

Our furnace maintenance checklist above applies to all furnaces. For gas furnace maintenance, we add the following steps:

  • Clean the flame sensor to ensure uninterrupted heating. The buildup of dust or carbon can cause the flame sensor to miss the flame, causing the unit to shut down or go into safety mode.
  • Inspect the heat exchanger for possible cracks or leaks.
  • Inspect the CO detector and replace its batteries as needed.
  • Lubricate the blower and inducer fans to ensure the fan blades rotate freely.
  • Inspect electrical wiring and controls, repairing any loose connections. Loose wiring connections can result in system failure or fire.
  • Clean the humidifier if your system has one and it is in use.

Whatever type of heating unit you have, regular furnace inspections, tune-ups, and following furnace maintenance checklists will help keep your system running at peak efficiency. The emphasis on preventative maintenance benefits your budget while ensuring your family’s comfort and safety.

Aire Serv: Your Heating & Air Conditioning Experts

Ensure your furnace runs as efficiently as possible with tips from our experts and annual Aire Serv maintenance. Call us or use our online service to request an appointment for heater maintenance and any other HVAC services you need.