Tips & Resources
Having a furnace that is functional, energy-efficient and safe brings peace of mind. The best time to get your furnace ready for winter, therefore, is before you need it. Avoid unpleasant surprises by taking some simple steps so that when that first cold snap hits, you can simply enjoy being warm and cozy.
Regular maintenance is the best way to avoid inconvenient and costly breakdowns or repairs. Skipping annual service may even void the manufacturer’s warranty. Scheduling a maintenance appointment in the fall makes good sense because technicians aren’t as busy so it’s easier to get an appointment that fits with your schedule.
Dirty air filters are the main culprit in furnace issues. A simple, inexpensive way to protect your system and potentially extend its life is to ensure that your furnace filter is clean. Check the filter every 30 days and clean or replace it every 30 to 90 days, depending on how quickly it gets clogged.
Test your furnace before you need it to confirm that it is working correctly. This is simple to do by switching the thermostat to heating to see if the furnace kicks on.
Dust and debris accumulate on the furnace burners during the warmer months when the furnace is not in use. Clean the burners before winter and check for any misalignment or rust.
Check the batteries and make sure your furnace responds when you adjust the thermostat. Consider getting a programmable thermostat to allow you to conveniently adjust the temperature to save money and energy when you are sleeping or away from home.
Check all heating vents to make sure they are open and clear of any obstructions, such as rugs or furniture.
If you find your air filters get dirty quickly, consider having your air ducts professionally cleaned. This can also be beneficial for anyone in the home who has severe allergies or respiratory issues, or for those with compromised immune systems. Cleaning your air ducts is also a good idea following a remodeling project.
Check the chimney for carbon buildup or other debris (including small animals that may have found there way in.) Use this time to test or replace carbon monoxide detectors as well.
Newer systems have igniter switches instead of pilot lights. Test the switch to make sure it lights properly. If not, check the breaker. If that does not solve the problem, call a professional.
Age is only one factor that should be considered when making the decision to get a new furnace. If you find that your current older system is breaking down more frequently, it is likely time to invest in a new one. Keep in mind that newer models are far more energy efficient, often come with rebates or tax credits, and will substantially lower your monthly energy costs.