Read the best list of useful maintenance tips you can complete to help keep your furnace running efficiently all winter long
Mountain Brook, Alabama Jan 1, 2023 (Issuewire.com) – The winter season can come around quicker than you expect. Even down south in Birmingham Alabama, frigid weather can begin before Thanksgiving. That is why you want to make sure you are prepared with plenty of time to spare before the first big freeze. One thing you don’t want to neglect is the health of your gas furnace; this is after all that will keep you warm and cozy all winter long. Here we provide a list of useful maintenance tips you can complete yourself to help keep your furnace running efficiently and without issue all winter long.
Safety while performing winter furnace maintenance tips:
First and foremost, make sure you take precautions by wearing appropriate safety equipment (safety glasses and gloves) before doing any maintenance on your furnace. After putting on safety equipment, turn the heat off at the thermostat and turn the power and gas off to your furnace. A power switch should be next to your furnace and a gas shut-off valve that should both be turned off. If you do not see a gas shut-off valve nearby, there is an on/off switch on the gas valve in the furnace that will stop gas flow to your furnace. If you do not feel comfortable performing this or any of the following furnace tune-up tips, reach out to your qualified HVAC technician for regular furnace service.
Link to information on turning off your furnace from Helpful DIY
Changing furnace filters – Why do they need to be changed so often?
It might seem like a simple task, but changing your air filters regularly is one of the best ways to increase the lifespan and efficiency of your furnace. When a filter is left inside your unit too long, it becomes blocked with dirt and debris. This can significantly decrease the airflow across your furnace heat exchanger causing the furnace to overheat. Eventually, this can trip heat sensors in your furnace which will prevent the system from heating your home. Reduced airflow can also cause your blower wheel to become overworked which could lead to the failure of the motor.
To avoid this, replace 1-inch air filters every 1-3 months and 4-inch filters every 6-12 months (or to manufacturing recommendations). You should replace air filters more often if you have pets or struggle with allergies. While replacing the filter, pay attention to the direction you are putting it in your system. The arrows on the filter should point in the direction of airflow (toward the furnace blower wheel).
For more information about replacing filters visit Air Filters USA
Inspect and Clean the Inside of the Furnace and Vents:
After checking all air filters, follow this up by cleaning the outside of the furnace, and vacuuming/removing any dust or debris that may have accumulated. Once you open the front panels of your furnace, you should perform a thorough inspection of the internal components. Check the wires, blower motor, and fan blades for any signs of wear and tear. Also, check for any signs of rust or damage to all internal components. If everything seems in order, begin vacuuming out the system removing any dust. Follow this up with a wet towel or paper towel to remove any excess debris. You can also vacuum out the furnace’s blower wheel and remove dirt and debris that would have otherwise gone through the duct system to your home. Finish up cleaning by vacuuming the vents and registers around your home to ensure proper airflow to your unit.
Link to information on furnace cleaning and maintenance from Everyday Home Repairs
Checking the flame sensor: preventing the most common furnace malfunction
A crucial component of your furnace system is the flame sensor. This is a sensor that can recognize when there are open flames in the combustion chamber of your furnace. If no flames are detected, the furnace will turn off. This sensor is crucial for the safety of your furnace as it prevents gas from escaping the system if the igniter malfunctions. Unfortunately, this sensor can become covered in carbon sediment, oxidation, and dust from the vents of the furnace. A dirty flame sensor can malfunction and give a false negative reading even if the ignition sequence was successful and the gas ignites properly. Your system will fail to turn on properly and no heat will transfer through your furnace. To mitigate this, you can take out the flame sensor and clean it with an abrasive material like Scotch Bright Pad or metal brush; To clean, press firmly down and polish the sensor while twisting tightly until all sediment is gone. After putting the flame sensor back into the furnace, make sure the system is functioning properly.
More information on checking flame sensors from Word of Advice TV
How many air vents can we close?
It might seem convenient and effective to close air vents to certain rooms that accumulate excess heat. While this can provide temporary relief, closing too many return vents can dramatically reduce airflow and cause your blower wheel motor to overheat. Ideally, all vents should be open for proper ventilation in your home. As a rule of thumb, you should never close more than one-third of the air all vents at one time. While return vents typically can’t be closed, you should also make sure they aren’t blocked by furniture, shoes, or any winter clothing that can accumulate. A good time to check to make sure your vents are open and clear of obstructions is while cleaning from the above step!
Carbon Monoxide detector – when should I replace it?
A malfunctioning or broken furnace can sometimes lead to the release of poisonous carbon monoxide gas. Because of this, some states require carbon monoxide detectors on each floor of your home. It is best practice to place a carbon monoxide detector in the vicinity of your furnace. Make sure to replace batteries in the carbon monoxide system regularly. It is also recommended that you replace the entire carbon monoxide detector every 5-7 years. There are components in these systems that fail over time, so it is important to replace the entire detector as recommended by the manufacturer.
Visit the US Consumer and Product Safety Commission for more information on CO Detectors
How can I tell if my furnace needs to be serviced by a professional?
By performing some of these tips before the winter season, you can reduce the risk of serious furnace issues and expensive furnace repairs during the winter. If you have any questions or are uncomfortable performing these tips, always reach out to a licensed HVAC professional who can help with a qualified furnace inspection using a thorough furnace maintenance checklist to make sure you’re ready for winter.
If you’re wondering whether your furnace needs to be serviced, there are a few signs to look out for. One of the most common indicators is if your furnace is consistently not producing enough heat. If your furnace is running but not providing sufficient warmth, it may be a sign that it needs to be serviced. Other red flags include if you notice any strange noises coming from your furnace, such as rattling, banging, or squealing, if you notice a strange smell coming from your furnace, such as a burning smell, or if you notice rust or damage to the system. In all these cases, it’s best to call a professional to take a look and make sure your furnace is in good working order.
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