The Halloween pumpkins have left the porch and thoughts are shifting to Thanksgiving pumpkin pie – a sure sign that winter is on the way. Before you are tempted by holiday shopping and festive gatherings, there is one important question to ask: Is your furnace ready for winter?
Chances are you have turned on your heat by now and it is working just fine. However, there are some important steps to take to ensure that your home stays cozy and warm throughout the season.
Here is a quick checklist to help you avoid any unfortunate surprises.
1. Replace the Air Filter
We can’t stress enough how important this simple step is. Air filters should be replaced every 1-3 months, depending on the type of filter and the time of year. In winter (or whenever you are using your furnace), inspect the filter monthly and replace it with a new one when it is dirty. Clean air filters are the most economical way to help keep your furnace working efficiently and effectively, prevent unnecessary wear and tear, and keep your energy costs low. Simply remove the old filter, and install the new one following the direction of the arrows. Consider upgrading to a pleated filter, a HEPA filter or an electrostatic filter for even better performance.
2. Open All Air Vents & Make Sure they are Uncovered
Blocked or closed vents can cause your furnace to work harder than necessary and can drive up your heating costs. They also, obviously, prevent heat from getting into the room. During the summer, vents may be closed or furniture rearranged without considering the location of the vents. Sometimes books, papers or other objects block the air vents as well. Check the vents in each room to make sure they are open and unobstructed. You can also use a screwdriver to remove the vent cover, and vacuum in and around the vent to remove any dust and debris that may have accumulated. And don’t forget the return air vents.
3. Make Sure the Area Around Your Furnace is Free of Debris and Clutter
Your furnace room may be a tempting storage space for seldom-used items, but storing belongings around your furnace can be a safety hazard. Clutter and debris can also impact your system’s performance. Check the area to be sure nothing is interfering with the operation of your furnace. Also make sure the burners are free of dust and dirt.
4. Make Sure Your Thermostat is Working Properly
Your thermostat should be set on “Heat” and the fan should be set on “Auto.” To check if it is working properly, raise the temperature setting 5 degrees above the current room temperature. The furnace should start up right away. If not, your thermostat may be malfunctioning.
5. Schedule an Appointment to Clean Your Furnace
Regular service by a trained HVAC professional goes a long way toward maintaining or even extending the functional life of your furnace. A qualified HVAC technician can professionally clean all the parts of your furnace, spot potential problems before they become expensive repairs, and keep your system running efficiently – saving you money and the inconvenience of a breakdown.