Since your furnace doesn't see much use over the summer months, it may be in need of a tune-up before you use it for the first time this winter. Performing some basic furnace maintenance before winter hits can help you avoid efficiency loss, breakdowns, and fire hazards. Here are four tips for preparing your furnace for winter.
Clean or Replace the Filter
Airflow is one of the most important factors for maintaining the efficiency of your HVAC system. If airflow is restricted, your furnace will waste energy by working harder to deliver the same amount of air throughout your home. A dirty furnace filter is one of the most common choke points in your system for restricted airflow. Clean or replace your furnace filter—depending on the type that you have—before winter hits so that your system doesn't lose efficiency due to a simple problem.
If you will be using replaceable filters, it is usually a good idea to stock up on them during the summer. You will often find them at a discount during the warmer months, and you won't have to worry about making an extra trip into the cold if you discover you are in need of a new filter.
Look for Flue Leaks and Blockages
Your furnace produces harmful fumes during operation that must be released from your home through the furnace flue. If the furnace flue has a leak or a blockage that could force fumes back into your home, carbon monoxide and other gases could pose a serious health risk to you and your family. For this reason, it is essential to inspect the furnace flue before you use your furnace for the first time in the winter.
Small holes in the furnace flue can often be patched with foil tape, but it is highly recommended that you replace the flue instead of attempting to repair it if you see any holes that are larger than a quarter. Blockages are often caused by leaves, bird nests, and other debris falling into your flue. The most common sign of a flue blockage is an excessive amount of soot in the area around your furnace. You should hire an HVAC technician to inspect your furnace flue for blockages and remove them so you can be sure that harmful gases are being vented from your home properly.
Install a Carbon Monoxide Detector
Just because your furnace flue is in good shape now, doesn't mean that backdraft couldn't become a problem in the future. Installing a carbon monoxide detector is the best way to give your family advanced warning that there are dangerous fumes in your home. You should consider installing the detector in the same room as your furnace so that it can detect harmful fumes before they have started circulating through your home.
Check the Blower Belt
Your furnace blower motor uses a belt to turn the blower fan and circulate air throughout your home. This belt inevitably weakens over time, and may be close to breaking without your knowledge if the furnace has been out of use for an extended period. You should examine the blower belt before you use your furnace this winter so that you aren't suddenly left without heat in your home.
You will need to remove the furnace access panel to inspect your furnace blower belt. Shut off your furnace breaker, and then slide off or unscrew the panel. The blower belt is connected to a small pulley on one end that is attached to the blower motor, and a larger pulley on the other that is attached to the blower housing. Look for cracks and fraying in the belt, and replace it with an identical belt from a local HVAC supply store if it looks worn.
Use these tips before you start using your furnace this winter so you can be sure you are heating your home safely and efficiently. For additional information, contact an HVAC contractor at a company like Always Ready Repair.