Anyone can simply flip the switch on their thermostat to turn on the furnace. However, if you want to reduce heating expenses and improve your system’s reliability throughout the season, there’s a little more work to do. Complete these nine steps to ensure your furnace is ready to take on the full brunt of winter.
1. Change Your Air Filter
One of the best things you can do for your furnace is change your air filter. Depending on your filter and system, you may need to change the filter as often as every 30 days for flat one-inch filters. Your filter may last several months if you have a larger or pleated filter. Neglecting your filter can decrease your unit’s efficiency and increase wear, which leads to more frequent and significant repairs.
2. Perform a Test Heating Cycle
It’s always good to perform a heating test before you need to depend on your furnace to keep your home warm. Simply flip the switch to heat and increase the temperature one or two degrees beyond your current room temperature. While running the test, pay particular attention to sounds and smells. If you have a burning smell that lasts more than a few minutes or if you have a chemical smell, like formaldehyde, shut it down and call a repair technician.
Likewise, if you have any unusual sounds, especially if there’s a rattling that goes away as the system warms up, call for a repair. These sounds can indicate many things but can provide an early indication when there’s a major problem.
3. Check Your Vents
Your supply and return vents are the keys to distributing heat throughout your home while your system runs. If your vents are closed or blocked, the heat won’t move around your home, leaving you with cold spots and longer heating cycles. Check to make sure that each vent is open and that each has at least six inches above and around it that are clear of obstructions.
4. Change Thermostat Batteries
Most thermostats have batteries that provide critical backup when the power goes out. It’s easy to forget about the batteries until you need them, and then it can be too late. Even if you haven’t seen a low battery indicator yet, plan to change the batteries at least once a year, and the fall is a perfect time. Failing to change them frequently enough can also lead to the batteries leaking acid, creating a hazardous mess inside your thermostat.
5. Consider Replacing Your Thermostat
Just like its batteries, a thermostat won’t last forever. Rather, the average thermostat should last roughly 10 to 15 years. Once it gets to this age, the internal sensors may stop working, leading to a variety of issues with your HVAC system. If your thermostat is more than 10 years old, consider replacing it with a newer model that has a programmable feature.
6. Set Your Thermostat’s Programs
If you’re using your thermostat’s program feature, you’ll want to set it for winter. If you aren’t using it yet, this is a great time to set it. According to the Department of Energy, lowering your temperature when you’re not home over the winter can reduce your heating costs by as much as 10%.
7. Get Routine Furnace Maintenance
Call your HVAC provider to schedule your routine fall or winter maintenance. Aside from changing your filter, this is the single most important task to maintaining your unit’s efficiency and reducing the risk of mid-season breakdowns.
8. Get Small Problems Repaired
If you notice small issues with your unit, or if your maintenance technician uncovers any, have them repaired before the cold weather settles in. When a component in your unit is working suboptimally, it causes strain on the entire system. Increased strain is one of the leading causes of breakdowns over the winter.
9. Check Your Smoke and Carbon Monoxide Detectors
Heating equipment is the second leading cause of residential fires in the United States. Further, your furnace produces carbon monoxide as it runs and is the leading cause of carbon monoxide poisoning when your heat exchanger is cracked. Functioning sectors provide the critical time needed to avoid injury or death. Test your detector according to the manufacturer’s instructions and replace it if it’s not working properly.
Since 1989, homeowners around Portland have trusted Climate Control to keep their homes safe and comfortable. Our team delivers trusted air conditioning and heating maintenance, repair and installation along with water heater and indoor air quality services, including duct cleaning. Call to schedule your furnace maintenance or repair with one of our NATE-certified technicians today.