When the heat of summer gives way to cooler temperatures, you'll want your furnace ready to tackle the important task of keeping your living and working spaces warm. That means making sure your furnace is properly prepared for heating duty, especially after a long summer of dormancy. The following is a brief to-do list that can help you and your HVAC technician prepare your furnace for the winter ahead:
Keep Your Furnace Debris-Free
Having a bunch of potentially flammable debris around your furnace can create a dangerous fire hazard. Before you even think about restarting your furnace, you'll want to remove as much of this debris as possible. A shop vacuum with a brush attachment makes this job much easier, plus you can use it to remove dust and debris from around the supply and return air ducts.
Don't forget to remove flammable materials, such as clothing, paint and aerosols, as far away from the furnace as possible.
Change That Air Filter
It's amazing how something as seemingly small as a dirty air filter can cause a whole host of problems for your furnace. For starters, a dirty air filter makes it harder for air to flow through your furnace, causing it to work harder, use more energy and wear out faster than expected.
Most HVAC experts recommend that you change your furnace air filter every three months at a minimum. Ideally, you'll want to replace it with a fresh and properly rated air filter on a monthly basis.
Keep an Eye Out for Rust and Corrosion
Rust and corrosion can do a number on your furnace, especially as it lays dormant. Rust is especially a concern in areas where moisture is likely to accumulate, such as the heat exchanger and the exhaust flue. Not only should you visually inspect these and other portions of your furnace for signs of rust, but you should also have your HVAC technician take a second look using the latest in inspection equipment.
Check Your Ventilation
There's a good reason why carbon monoxide is called the "silent killer" – this odorless, colorless and tasteless gas kills over 400 Americans each year and sends thousands more to emergency rooms. Poor ventilation caused by obstructions, leaks, backdrafting and faulty burners can prove deadly if not taken care of immediately.
It helps to have your HVAC technician inspect your furnace ventilation to ensure that it removes combustion gases from your living spaces. Here are a few other things you can do to prevent carbon monoxide from being a problem:
- Make sure that drafts and/or incoming air supplying your furnace does not create a pressure imbalance that could cause exhaust gases to backdraft into your home.
- Make sure your furnace burners are free of rust, debris or anything else that could prevent a clean flame from being produced. Also, avoid setting the flame too high, as this can also cause combustion problems.
- Have your HVAC technician inspect and, if necessary, clean the furnace flue. Soot and other buildup within the chimney not only promotes further deterioration of the flue itself, but it's also capable of introducing more carbon monoxide into your home environment.
Check Your Thermostat
Thermostat controls can and do malfunction and even wear out over time, so it's always a good idea to check those controls once you have the rest of your furnace squared away. Make sure that all of the wiring is intact and in good condition. If your thermostat is battery-powered, make sure it has a fresh set installed.
If you haven't done so, now may be a good time to upgrade to a programmable thermostat. A programmable thermostat offers a broad array of features than an ordinary thermostat, such as the ability to program temperatures for different times and days of the week.
To find an HVAC technician who can provide you with more information on preparing your furnace for the winter, see a site like http://carriercooling.com/.