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Maintaining a comfortable home in the winter months depends significantly on how well your furnace functions. Furnace maintenance includes inspection, cleaning, repair and replacement if necessary.Failure to regularly care for your furnace may not only result in having to prematurely replace your unit, but also may present a safety hazard.
Although you can tune up and undertake service of your furnace more frequently if you like, make sure that you do it at least once a year. The ideal time to tune up and maintain your furnace is the fall. Choose a time that is long enough before the beginning of winter to ensure that you have time to schedule repairs to your furnace if there is a serious problem or issue that needs addressing.
You don’t want to enter the winter months with a furnace that is not functioning properly. Safety represents another important reason for annual maintenance of your furnace — over time, debris can accumulate which can ignite and result in a fire. Regularly servicing your furnace ensures that it operates at peak efficiency, lowering your heating bills.
The initial phase of the tune-up and maintenance process is physically inspecting your equipment. There should be no soot or debris on the ground around the furnace. These are signs of more significant problems with your unit and you’ll need to call in a professional. Check the flames in the burner. Flames should be blue and steady; if they burn yellow or orange and flicker, that’s indicative of a problem with the burner and you should call a professional.
Make sure the thermostat is in working order by engaging the system, and examine the fan belt to ensure that it is in good condition — a cracked belt needs replacement.
Cleaning and Replacement
Turn of the circuit breaker powering your furnace. Remove the panels. With a vacuum, clean any debris (which should mostly consist of dust) from inside the unit. Using a damp but soap-free rag, clean off the blower blades. If you have a hot water unit, drain completely. Replace furnace filters at the start of the season, and replace them once a month while the furnace is in use.
If you’re not comfortable doing furnace maintenance yourself, call a professional. And book early in the fall — furnace and other types of HVAC professionals face full schedules as winter gets closer.