Attention home maintenance students! Class is in session. Today’s lesson is about taking care of your home’s furnace. An annual tune-up is the key to a well-maintained furnace. A little bit of regular TLC can significantly lower your home's energy consumption, lowering that pesky energy bill.
Don’t worry, taking care of it is easy. You can do it. Read up on the following six tips and you’ll go to the head of the class when it comes to your furnace care know-how. So, sharpen those pencils and let’s get started.
Clean or Replace Your Filter
A filter is usually installed where the return duct enters the furnace. A good filter removes particulates from the air before it passes into the furnace itself to get heated up. Particles like dust mites, pollen, pet dander, bacteria and spores that aren’t blocked by a filter can clog up your furnace and cause it to age more quickly and even break.
Depending on your filter’s quality and style, it should be replaced every 30-90 days during the colder months. Check with the manufacturer's instructions for specifics.
Make Sure the Blower Motor is Working
The furnace blower motor drives the fan that moves air around the furnace. It’s also where the air filter is installed. The blower motor has a lot of working parts. If it’s not well maintained, it can start to break down and make loud noises that will wake the neighbours. Use a trusted technician to help identify the source of the problem and repair it on-site within 24 hours.
Reduce Your Home's Heating Load
Hot air loves to escape through any cracks or holes in exterior walls. By sealing up your home’s envelope, you decrease the heat load put onto your furnace, which means it doesn’t have to work as hard to heat the same square footage. A harder working furnace uses up a lot of energy that will show up on your monthly energy bill.
Consider signing up for our Ask a Home Inspector service. This is when a trained pro (a Certified Professional Home Inspector to be exact) will be able to help identify weaknesses and make recommendations, like where you’ll need to install weather stripping around windows and doors, seal ductwork or add insulation to the attic — and it’s all done virtually over video conference!
Clear All Vents
Your furnace is happiest when the air throughout your house circulates completely. That’s why you need to keep all vents clear and in working order. A clean vent can also significantly reduce energy consumption as it doesn't have to work as hard to heat your home. Dirty vents equal high energy bills.
Walk through every room in your home. Are all vents open? Do they have room to breathe, or are they blocked by furniture and other household items? Do they look dusty or greasy? If so, run a vacuum across them with the soft brush attachment and then wipe them down with just a dab of dish soap on a damp cloth. Voila. Sparkling vents are yours once more.
Reduce how hard your furnace has to work by closing the doors and vents in rooms where it is not always necessary, such as a guest room or storage room. This way the furnace isn’t having to work hard to heat places of the house that don’t need heat.
For Gas Furnaces, Make Sure the Exhaust Flue Ventilates Well
This one is super important. The exhaust flue requires regular attention to ensure that carbon monoxide, nitrogen dioxide and sulphur dioxide are exiting the home as expected. These gases are highly toxic if they are inhaled and can cause health issues like headaches, nausea and heart palpitations, and they can even be fatal.
Gases can back up if your furnace hasn’t been professionally serviced in a while, so make sure you get the pros in on an annual basis to give your furnace a clean bill of health. And, if you suspect a problem, call for help immediately. Having a trusted furnace repair service on call is a good place to start.
Keeping your gas furnace well maintained can also help to reduce your natural gas consumption. A dirty, old, and dying furnace can run up your energy bill like no one's business.
Remove All Flammable Objects From Around Your Furnace
Your furnace is usually located in a separate area of your home – the basement, crawl space or a storage room. We know you’re hiding more junk than you’d care to admit in those nooks and crannies (hey, so are we), but you simply cannot place boxes of your mother’s old dishes or yearbooks near the furnace, to say nothing of the most flammable of the flammable, like paint, aerosols, and gasoline. Give that furnace some room to do its thing.
You've Passed the Test
Congratulations, you’ve now completed furnace maintenance 101. With just a touch of common sense and a dash of TLC, we’re sure you’ll continue to ace furnace maintenance for your home for years to come. You’ll also have the additional benefit of enjoying lower energy bills with a clean, well-functioning furnace. Win-win.