With an average temperature of 32.2 degrees Fahrenheit, most people can’t survive winter without a working furnace. Furnaces are a staple across the country and help keep our homes warm and comfy during the cold season.
Unfortunately, few people give their furnaces the attention they deserve, which works to their detriment.
Furnace maintenance and routine checkups are imperative for a functional and efficient furnace. Unfortunately, most people bump furnace maintenance to the back burner until it’s too late. This translates to hefty energy bills or a non-functional furnace in severe cases.
There’s no better time for a routine furnace checkup than just before winter. To help kick off the exercise, we’ve compiled the ultimate furnace maintenance checklist for keeping your furnace in tip-top shape.
Change the Air Filters
The air filters in your furnace help maintain indoor air quality by trapping contaminants and other airborne particles. These particles include dust, pollen, hair, and pet dander. All these particles and other debris collect on the filters, and you’ll have to replace them regularly to ensure proper airflow.
To replace your air filter, all you have to do is:
- Turn off the furnace’s power supply
- Remove the service panel
- On the intake blower fan, find the current filter and slide it out
- Side the fresh filter in
- Turn on the furnace
Changing your furnace’s filters is one of the most straightforward exercises and should top your furnace maintenance checklist. As a rule of thumb, ensure you change your filters at least once every three months. Doing so ensures pristine indoor air quality and optimum efficiency.
Check the Pilot Light
The pilot light is a small flame that ignites to turn on your furnace and heat your home. The pilot light speaks volumes about your furnace’s condition and how it runs. That’s why it’s always important to check the pilot during routine inspections.
Suppose you don’t know how to check the pilot light; here’s how you do it.
- Start by removing the cover panel to access the pilot and burner assembly
- If there’s no flame, it means the pilot light is out, and you have to relight it
- If you see a flame, take note of its color. A proper pilot light is blue, except at the tip, which is yellow.
- A yellow flame means that the flame isn’t strong enough to get the furnace to the desired temperature.
It’s worth noting that a yellow flame could also indicate excessive carbon monoxide in your furnace. This carbon monoxide can easily leak into your home, posing a serious hazard to you and your family. If you suspect any carbon monoxide leaks, contact a furnace professional to take care of the matter.
Vacuum Dust Off the Pilot
After checking the pilot light, ensure you get rid of any dust on the pilot. Dust and debris change the color of the pilot light flame and may give false readings. Vacuum or blow all the dust off the pilot before checking the pilot light to make the correct color readings.
If you don’t own an electric blower, you can use a straw and blow directly into the pilot. Just be careful not to inhale any of the dust while huffing and puffing. Blow or vacuum until you get rid of all the dust and debris on the pilot
Clean the Drainage Tube
Propane and natural gas furnaces produce water as a by-product. Some of the water converts to steam, but the rest remains in liquid form. The drainage tube drains the water into a drip pan outside the furnace.
Clean the drainage tube to ensure it doesn’t clog or block. Water will back up into the furnace when it does, potentially damaging the flame sensor.
Clean the drainage pipe to ensure the smooth passage of water to the drip pan.
Make Sure the Vents Are Clean
Vents allow warm air from your furnace into different rooms in your home. Debris and gunk accumulate in the vents with continued use of the furnace.
It’s up to you to clean the dirt off the vent for seamless airflow.
Cleaning the vents is as easy as removing the vent covers and vacuuming the ducts.
Apart from keeping the vents clean, vent cleaning also helps eliminate all the pollen and mold spores that lead to respiratory complications.
Seal Any Leaks and Gaps on the Air Ducts
Check for any gaps or cracks on the air ducts that may leak air. Pay special attention to the return ducts because they’re more predisposed to such leaks. You can use silicone caulk or special metal tape to seal these leaks.
To be safe, seal all joints to take care of any gaps between the ducts. If you opt for silicone caulk, find an aluminum-colored caulk for uniformity and seamlessness. Sealing these gaps and cracks will help you save a bundle in energy costs.
Clean the Flame Sensor
Dust may coat your furnace’s flame sensor with continued furnace use. This may hinder the sensor’s ability to light the furnace. You’ll have to clean the sensor to ensure it works.
To do so, you’ll have to gently pull the flame sensor out of its bracket. Use a clean light cloth to remove dust and debris from the sensor. Slowly slip the sensor back to its bracket, and voila! You’re good to go.
Clean the Blower Blades
Clean the blower blades to remove any dust or gunk on them. For thorough cleaning, consider removing the blower from the furnace system first.
Once you remove the blower unit, vacuum the dust from the blower blades, then use a brush to remove any remaining dirt. Be careful not to tamper with the counterweights or wiring on the blades, or you might misalign the blades.
Only clean the blower blades if you plan to do so diligently. There’s a considerable risk involved in cleaning this part of your furnace. Leave it to the pros if you’re not cut out for the task.
Check for Funny Noises
Funny noises from your furnace could indicate underlying issues with the system. Stay alert for any rattling or banging noises coming.
These noises mean something is wrong with your furnace, and it’s time for your annual furnace inspection.
Schedule a Professional Furnace Inspection
Contact the furnace professionals for a comprehensive inspection at least once every year. Top off all your furnace maintenance efforts with an inspection to ensure everything is A-okay.
During your furnace inspection, the inspector will:
- Check whether you have calibrated the thermostat correctly
- Check whether the gas in the gas line flows as it should
- Inspect the heat exchanger for signs of corrosion or cracking
- Check the air handle, blower motor, and fan to ensure they’re in good shape
You should expect the above and much more in your regular furnace inspection. The inspection culminates in a report detailing your furnace’s condition and recommendations on how to improve its functioning.
When to Call the Pros for Furnace Repairs
You’ll likely uncover numerous issues with your furnace during your routine maintenance. If so, you’ll have to decide whether to do the repairs or let the pros handle it.
Here are a few instances where you should call the pros for furnace repairs:
There’s a Foul Smell Comin From Your Furnace
The gas in your furnace system is colorless and odorless. However, your gas lines contain a substance known as mercaptan to help detect gas leaks. Mercaptan combines with furnace gas to give it a foul rotten egg smell and helps you detect gas leaks.
If you notice any rotten egg or sulphuric smell, it’s time to contact the pros to address the gas leak.
Rattling Noises in Your Basement
As mentioned above, rattling or banging noises indicate something’s wrong with your furnace. It could mean you have one or two loose parts that you need to fix in place. It could also indicate that your blower fan is misaligned and needs proper alignment.
Regardless of the cause, you need to call a furnace company to get to the root of the noise. They can then fix whatever is causing the noise.
When the Pilot Light goes Out on Its Own
It’s okay to reignite the pilot light occasionally, but not always. If you find yourself having to reignite the pilot light, it’s time to arrange for repairs ASAP. Issues with your pilot light translate to hefty energy bills.
Furnace Maintenance Made Easy
We hope our furnace maintenance checklist has brought you up to speed with all things DIY furnace maintenance. The above tips for maintaining a furnace are all you need to keep your furnace in great shape for the longest time. Don’t hesitate to contact the pros if you need help maintaining your furnace.
Schedule an appointment today, and we’ll inspect your furnace for any issues and help keep it in its best shape.
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