Being that we are in the thick of winter, it is a great idea to keep an eye on your furnace to make sure it is working correctly. Here are some great tips from Direct Energy on how to stay on top of it. We have been doing this for years and are here to help you should you need a professional's help. If not, here are some great tips and tricks to ensure your furnace is maintained throughout the winter season:
Start Your Maintenance Early
The coldest nights always seem to present the perfect opportunity for a spontaneous furnace failure. Prevent this with a proactive approach by conducting your furnace maintenance at least once a year. Doing maintenance work before the heating season begins is best. If the unit cools as well, a second maintenance check should be done in the spring before warmer weather arrives.
Administer the Eye Test
Before you start work on your furnace, give it a quick visual inspection. The venting pipe should be securely fastened and angled. In addition, other tubes – such as the drainage tubes for the air conditioning system – should be securely fastened as well. This is also a good time to smell the system's gas flex. If an aroma of rotten eggs is detected, it means the furnace has a gas leak.
Inspect the Thermostat Wires
Once the power has been shut off and the furnace doors removed, begin your furnace maintenance by giving the furnace wires a slight pull to ensure they are tight and properly fitted.
Dust and Vacuum
Dust, dirt, and debris can cause a furnace to work sub-optimally or, in some cases, not at all. To ward against this, use a soft-tipped paint brush applied gently against the inner components of the furnace. This practice will loosen dust and debris without damaging the furnace's interior. Once the brushing is complete, remove the material with a portable vacuum.
Clean the Flame Sensor
A dirty flame sensor will stop the furnace from working altogether, so clean this part at least once a year. Unscrew the sensor from the furnace and then, holding it at the bottom, clean the sensor with an emery cloth. Once the sensor is clean, it can be replaced and the door reinstalled.
Consider a Professional for any Mechanical Maintenance
If you feel uncomfortable handling any of these tasks, bring in a professional furnace maintenance technician. Proper maintenance tasks relating to your home's furnace may be difficult if you don't have a mechanical background. And even in cases where you feel you can accomplish most maintenance steps alone, it is still a good idea to hire a professional to thoroughly inspect the system and ensure it is running properly.
Whether you decide to handle portions of the furnace's maintenance yourself or trust it all to the skills of a professional, there are still upkeep tasks to be accomplished once the initial inspection is complete. This is especially true of furnace filters. The furnace's filter was likely replaced when it was last inspected, but it should be replaced every month (unless otherwise instructed by the manufacturer of the furnace). Changing the filter prolongs the life of your furnace and can save you 5-15 percent on your energy bill. Set a date on the calendar exactly one month after the cleaning to easily remember when the filter should be changed. Some homeowners also find it easier to simply replace the filter on the first day of every month.
In addition to the filter, you should keep the area around the furnace clean and free of obstructions. This allows the furnace to run properly and avoid potential damage to the unit or its performance. We actually just answered an emergency call for a furnace in Oakville where this was the issue, it happens, but don't let it happen to you!
If you have any questions or want some additional help to service your furnace this season, contact us anytime.