DIY Furnace Maintenance Guide
Ensuring your furnace is properly maintained will not only keep your house warm, but it will keep your family safe and the bills down. Don’t wait until the first signs of snow to inspect and clean your furnace, by then it will be too late. While there are times you may want to call a professional, there are plenty of things you can do yourself to keep your furnace running efficiently.
Inspecting the unit for hazards, ensuring it is clean and replacing parts as necessary will make sure your family is warm all winter long. Here’s how:
Inspect Your Furnace
If you have a gas furnace, one of the first things you should do is check for any gas leaks. While one of the easiest ways to check for a gas leak is through smell, it may not be the most effective. A simple, yet efficient way to check for gas leaks is to mix soap and water in a spray bottle and spray it on the gas valve. If bubbles appear, there is a leak. Immediately evacuate the house and call your local gas company’s emergency hotline to report it.
Once you have determined there are no gas leaks, inspect the exhaust flue pipe to ensure it has no holes or obstructions. You can easily do this by removing the flue cap near the furnace and look through it to the outside. If you see any problem areas, be sure to call an HVAC professional to fix it.
Next, go around your house and make sure all the vents are open. This will ensure your furnace is not working harder than it should to heat your home.
Finally, invest in a good carbon monoxide detector. Carbon monoxide is an odorless, colorless, poisonous gas, and a byproduct of furnaces. A properly functioning furnace only produces small amounts, which are usually carried away from the home through its ventilation system. However, a malfunctioning furnace can produce deadly amounts. A carbon monoxide detector will alert you when levels become dangerous, allowing you to evacuate the home and call a professional.
Clean Your Furnace
Before doing anything, make sure the power to the electrical and fuel supply is turned off.
Clean the outside of the furnace using a damp washrag. Once that is done, open the combustion chamber and scrape the soot off the unit’s walls using a small wire brush. If it is a gas furnace, remove the burners and wash them with water, then vacuum up any debris.
Next, clean the blower assembly by removing the panel and cleaning each fan blade and the spaces in between with a toothbrush. Then, wipe down the motor housing with a damp rag, and once again, vacuum up any debris.
Make sure the area around the furnace is clear of any debris or flammable objects. Boxes, clothes, paint, gas and yard tools should never be stored near a furnace.
Finally, walk around the house and vacuum inside the floor vents. These ducts attract dust and pet hair. Cleaning them ensures your furnace is not working harder than necessary and helps you breathe easier.
Part of keeping your furnace running efficiently is replacing any worn parts. Luckily for you, we carry a wide range of Manufacturer-Approved HVAC replacement parts.
The first thing you should replace is your furnace’s air filter. The process is really simple and only takes a few minutes. Air filters should be replaced every one to three months, depending on your area and whether or not you own pets. A great way to tell if your filter needs replacing is to hold it up to the light. If you can see light through the filter, it’s fine; if you can’t, it needs to be replaced. Shop Furnace Filters>
Next, check the blower belts. If the belts look worn, cracked, or frayed, it’s time to replace them. Make note of the type and size of the old belts when purchasing new ones. Shop Furnace Blower Belts>
While most furnace motors are permanently lubricated and sealed by the manufacturer, some aren’t. These motors have covered oil ports above the bearings in the oil shaft, and need to be re-lubricated each year. Simply apply two to three drops of 10-weight nondetergent motor oil (not all-purpose oil) to each port. Be careful not to over lubricate. If your blower shaft has oil ports too, follow the same steps.
If your furnace is oil-powered, you should also consider replacing the oil filter annually to prevent the oil-burner nozzle from getting clogged. First, close the oil valve. Then, remove the old filter and replace it with a new one. Remember to dispose of the old filter according to local hazardous-waste regulations. Shop Furnace Oil Filters>
Properly inspecting, cleaning and replacing necessary parts in your furnace will not only keep it running all winter, but for many years to come. A properly-running furnace not only keeps your family safe and warm, but it also cuts the energy bill down. However, if you are uncomfortable performing any of the steps above, or find a problem you feel is above your skill level, do not hesitate to call a professional. Any investment in safety is worth it.