Like it or not, winter’s coming! And we guarantee you’ll enjoy winter a whole lot more (or at least hate it a whole lot less) if your heating system is working optimally.
Furnace maintenance is actually very easy – much easier than dealing with a major repair. These simple “to-dos” take about half an hour to complete, and are well worth your time. You’ll save money, avoid annoying and expensive breakdowns, and help keep your family safe and comfortable all winter long.
And, our list of “don’ts” will help you avoid mistakes that can cause equipment breakdowns and endanger your loved ones.
(As a bonus, these do’s and don’ts will help your air conditioning system survive the winter in great shape so that it’s ready to go when summer returns!)
- DO…Call for your annual service ASAP, if you haven’t yet.
- DO…Remove flammable items that may have been stored next to the furnace over the summer (weed whackers, lawn movers, gas cans, etc).
- DO…Change/clean your air filter regularly, especially during heavy use seasons (winter and summer). You should replace disposable fiberglass filters, and wash electrostatic or electronic filters, at least every three months, and more often if they look dirty. A dirty filter will slow down air flow and make the system work harder to keep you warm or cool (a waste of energy). A clean filter will keep dirt and dust out of your system, increasing its longevity and reducing the need for expensive repairs.
- DO…Check your thermostat programming to make sure it reflects your family’s current schedule. This will help you reduce energy costs.
- DO…Check your chimney to make sure there are no cracks or loose bricks.
- DO…Remove window AC units, and cover outside AC units to minimize damage from winter weather and debris (you can buy a cover at your local hardware store).
- DO…Install a carbon monoxide detector next to your sleeping area.
- DON’T…Try to service your heating system on your own. Leave it to qualified professionals!
- DON’T…Wait for the first cold night to turn on your furnace for the first time. Test your heater for a few minutes while it’s still warm out (like in early September), to make sure that it’s working well on the first cold day. Also, if it’s warm, you can comfortably open the windows to disperse that “first time” smell.
- DON’T…Try to turn on the heat while the thermostat is still set in AC mode. Just setting the dial above room temperature won’t activate the heat if the system is still in AC mode.
- DON’T…Cover outside AC units with plastic. Plastic traps moisture and can lead to rust and deterioration. Instead, use a cover specifically designed for outdoor AC units.
- DON’T…Assume that because you have a carbon monoxide detector, you don’t need to schedule a furnace inspection. A carbon monoxide detector should be a second line of defense, not a substitute for annual service.
- DON’T…turn off the heat when it’s cold out, even if you are leaving your house for several days. Set the thermostat to at least 55 degrees so that your house stays warm enough to keep your pipes from freezing.