Before the winter season arrives, performing a basic furnace maintenance check-up will put your mind at ease. You want to make sure the furnace is safe, efficient, and well-maintained enough to keep your home warm in the colder months. If any problems are detected, you still have time to repair the furnace before the temperature starts to drop.
Ideally, you should call an HVAC technician for a comprehensive furnace inspection. However, there are several basic furnace maintenance tasks that you should be able to perform on your own. These tasks are simple and straightforward enough for any handy homeowners with basic knowledge. Of course, if you don’t feel comfortable doing these tasks, don’t hesitate to bring in a professional for their expertise instead.
The following are six basic furnace maintenance tasks that you can perform for this upcoming winter:
Task #1: Inspect the burner flames.
You should take a moment to inspect your furnace at least once a year, or preferably at the beginning and the end of the heating season. Your first basic furnace maintenance task is to inspect the burner flames. Start by turning off the power of your furnace. Then, remove the combustion chamber door. If your furnace has a burner cover, you will need a screwdriver to remove it as well.
Now that you can see the inside of the burner, turn on the power and turn up your thermostat. Put yourself at a reasonably safe distance, and then take a close look at the flames of the burner. Be careful not to breathe on them. The flames should be blue and even. If they are yellow, it could be because the burners are dirty. You will need to turn off the power and clean them thoroughly.
Task #2: Clean inside the furnace.
Most of the basic furnace maintenance tasks involve a lot of cleaning. Dust and debris may have gathered inside the furnace, so you need to unclog any parts to ensure the system is in working order.
Start by turning off the power and shutting off the gas valve. Then, use your vacuum cleaner to clear all the dust you see on the burners and at the base of the furnace. If you notice some black powder inside the cavities, it might be a sign that something is wrong with your furnace.
Your furnace may have a squirrel-cage blower, which is notorious for getting clogged with dirt and dust. You should remove the screws and bolts, lift out the blower, and clean it thoroughly. Using a small brush, gently clean each blade of the blower. You should then use your vacuum cleaner to remove the loose debris and residue dust.
Task #3: Clean or replace the furnace filter.
The filter of your furnace should be cleaned once at the beginning of the heating season. When it’s being used continuously, you should also keep cleaning it once a month. If the furnace filter is too dirty or seems damaged, you need to replace it with a new one.
Task #4: Inspect the different components of the furnace.
Your next item of business is to inspect the other furnace components more closely. This should be a quick inspection, just to make sure all the parts are in working condition before putting them in place. Be sure to check the belts, the wiring, and the switches. If you notice rust or damage on any of the individual parts, they will need to be replaced.
Another component that demands your attention is the motor. If the motor of your furnace is sealed, you don’t need to lubricate it. If your motor has oil ports, it should be lubricated once a year. You will most likely need to lubricate the blower shaft as well. Simply remove the caps, add a few drops of lightweight machine oil in the ports, and replace their caps.
Task #5: Inspect your ducts and ventilation systems.
Checking the ducts of your vent system is another inspection that you should perform. If the ducts are clogged with debris, they will have to be cleaned by a professional. Occasionally, you may detect leakages in the air ducts. In which case, you can use metal tape to seal them shut carefully. If you are unable to locate or repair the leak, ask a professional to fix it on your behalf.
Task #6: Call an HVAC professional for repairs.
While these basic furnace maintenance tasks can be performed on your own, you are still advised to seek professional help for the more demanding problems. If you notice anything wrong during your inspection, call an HVAC professional to repair the furnace as soon as possible.
Preventative maintenance is the key to a fully functional furnace with years of longevity. You should repair any small issues before they have a chance to become worse. Most importantly, this is the best way to make sure your furnace will perform properly during the winter season.