Fall Furnace Maintenance
As seasonal temperatures start to drop, it’s time to think about some basic furnace maintenance to increase its efficiency and get you through the next four to six months of cold weather. We recommend that you hire a seasoned HVAC professional to conduct an annual maintenance tune up, especially if your furnace is older.
That being said, there are a few things that you can do on your own to prolong your furnace life. The best place to start on your furnace is with the filter. A dirty filter will cause excessive strain on your furnace, increase heating costs and reduce the life of your equipment. Make sure that your furnace filter has a cover over the slot, ensuring an efficient return-air system. Not having a cover poses a safety issue.
Does the type of filter matter?
Absolutely. Here are the major differences between various filters:
Spun Fiberglass Filters are the least expensive, disposable filters. They don’t, however, adequately filter out finer particles. Examine inexpensive fiberglass filters once a month during the heating and cooling seasons.
Pleated Disposable Filters are more costly but will provide four to eight times the filtering capability of the spun fiberglass filters. Pleated filters can last up to three months.
Washable Electrostatic Filters have a high initial cost but they are re-useable and offer much higher filtration rates. Wash and rinse permanent filters monthly.
Electronic Filters and Mass Media Filters offer superior filtration but they require modification to the ductwork for installation. But note that installing these types of filters is not a do-it-yourself project; they should be professionally installed. Clean electronic air-cleaner filters every other month.
Other steps to maintain your Furnace
- Check to make sure the pilot light is burning. Some furnace units must be lit by hand if the pilot light goes out. Follow the instructions for relighting usually printed on access doors. If you have difficulty relighting the pilot light, call a qualified heating contractor for advice.
- Check the blower and vacuum out and dust or debris in and around the unit.
- Lubricate the blower motor.
- Remove the flame shield and check the burner for corrosion. Check flames with the fan off and on to conform to proper operation.
- Check the flue for gaps or dents and make sure it is venting properly to the outdoors.
- Vacuum all the dust from the air registers around the house. Check air motion and make sure the registers are clear of furniture rugs, drapes, etc. to let the air flow freely.
- It is also the perfect time of the year to replace all the batteries in your smoke and carbon monoxide detectors. Test all hard wired detectors as well.
*Schematic courtesy of Carson Dunlop