You know what’s worse than coming home to a freezing cold house during a cold snap? Nothing. Except maybe having your furnace say, “Nope” in the middle of your fancy holiday meal or while your buddies are over for a major sporting event or any other time when it’s cold outside.
Obviously, your furnace’s job is to keep you nice and toasty warm. And it’ll do just that for a good long time if you take good care of it. So what exactly does it look like to “take good care” of a furnace? Well, as Austin HVAC professionals, we strongly suggest having us out to give it a tune-up at least once a year. Yes, a tune-up. And yes, every year.
Here’s why: There are loads of working parts in your furnace, some of which do things like combust. So, it’s wise to have a professional make sure everything’s working properly—not just for your comfort, but also for your safety. According to a report from the National Fire Protection Association, furnaces are responsible for more than 10% of home fires caused by heating equipment. (Most are caused by space heaters, which is what you’ll be using if your furnace quits on you.) The best way to have peace of mind that your furnace isn’t going to quit on you… or cause a fire… or incur multi-gazillion dollar heating bills… is to have us give it a once-over and prevent problems before they start.
That said, there are a few simple steps you can take to keep your furnace running at peak efficiency. Number-one on that list is, as we’ve mentioned, picking up the phone and calling us. Beyond that, check out these tips.
Clean Your Furnace
The leading cause of furnace fires is failure to clean the equipment. Just like the space under your bed and the back corners of your closets, your furnace collects dust bunnies and dirt. So, every so often—at least once a year—clean your:
- Blower Compartment
- Blower And Blower Blades
- Flame Sensor
- Hot Surface Igniter
Some of these components require a bit of disassembly to get to them, and you should turn off the power and gas before starting your work. Also note that while you can vacuum around the burners, you shouldn’t try to clean the burners themselves on your own. If your flames are blue and fairly even, your burners are in good shape. If the flames are yellow or uneven, please call a pro.
Check Your Drive Belt
While you have the panel off your furnace, locate the drive belt (if you have one) and inspect it for cracks or frays. If it’s not in perfect shape, replace it.
Lubricate Your Bearings
Many older furnace models have bearings in the motor and/or blower that require annual attention. Take care not to over-grease them. Just a few drops of oil is usually plenty.
Swap Out Your Furnace Filters
Imagine trying to breathe through the same paper mask for a year at a time. Gross, right? If you don’t change your filters regularly, that’s exactly what you’re expecting your poor furnace to do. How often should you change your filters? That depends on your unit and the type of filters you’re using. Check your owner’s manual for recommendations and follow them.
Clean Around Your Furnace
Check Your Furnace Exhaust Flue
Make sure your flue is free of debris so carbon monoxide has an easy exit from your home. While you’re at it, put fresh batteries in your smoke and carbon monoxide detectors if you haven’t in the last year.