a man changing a ceiling air filter for his furnace

Furnace Maintenance Checklist

If you have ever weathered a winter in New England, you know that one of the most important appliances in your home is your furnace, or heating system. It’s easy to take your furnace for granted while it’s working properly, until your unit starts emitting unpleasant odors, or even stops working altogether. Providing your heating system with proper maintenance is the key to preventing any unforeseen complications during the cold winter months. The below checklist can be completed by any homeowner with the brief help of an HVAC professional.

changing a dirty furnace filter

Change Furnace Filters

Locate and change out your furnace filters on a semi-annual basis, ideally every 3-4 months. Homes with central heating will have filters at the central blower unit, and possibly another at the air return unit (a large grate along the wall/floor). While some air filters can be washed and reused, many simply need to be thrown out and replaced. You can find replacement air filters at your local hardware store.

a side view of some damaged furnace ductwork

Check/Clean Ductwork

If your ductwork is accessible, take a flashlight and look for any areas that are loose, detached or torn. This can lead to hot air escaping into unfinished areas of the home, resulting in higher energy costs and lower efficiency.

Norfolk Pro Tip: It may also be a good idea to hire a company to clean out your ducts occasionally, maybe once every 5 years, to make sure that no hair, dirt, or debris is clogging up your ductwork. This is especially true if you smoke in the home or have pets.

a hand cleaning a brown floor vent

Clean Furnace Exterior & Vents

While we recommend leaving an interior clean to the professionals, it is a good idea to clean your furnace and any vents at least once a year. Dusting or vacuuming the vents will ensure that the furnace has proper airflow, increasing its efficiency and lowering energy costs, along with preventing the unit from overheating. If you have an outdoor heat pump, clean any grass or leaves away from it as you would an A/C condenser.

Norfolk Pro Tip: Make sure all heating vents are open for the season, even if some areas are used less than others. Maintaining a thoroughly heated home will keep any plumbing from freezing during the cold winter months.

an HVAC technician performing an annual furnace inspection

Annual Service & Inspection

Every furnace should be annually inspected and serviced by a licensed HVAC technician, preferably before turned on for the season. A technician will clean out the interior of your unit and inspect all components to identify any problem areas in need of repair. The HVAC technician can also check your fuel & electrical connections to ensure proper working order. Damaged fuel & electrical lines can be dangerous hazards in your home if left unrepaired, due to the potential for fuel leaks and electrical fires.

a hand adjusting the temperature of a basic white thermostat

Test Your Thermostat

Finally, it’s important to test your heating system before you actually need the heat, in case something doesn’t work. Start by testing your thermostat and making sure that it functions properly, turning the heat on and off. If the furnace doesn’t turn on right away, short cycles without reaching the proper temperature, or even locks out, have it looked at by an HVAC professional.

Next, take another thermometer and hang it next to the thermostat with a paper towel between it and the wall. This ensures that it is reading the air temperature and not the wall temperature. Both thermostats should read the same temperature within one or two degrees of each other. If not, have your thermostat recalibrated or even changed to a newer unit.

Furnace Maintenance Supplies at Norfolk Hardware

With these tips, your furnace will be ready to provide steady heat all season long. For all your maintenance needs, including furnace air filters, thermostats, cleaning supplies & more, stop by Norfolk Hardware & Home Center, Boston’s best family-owned hardware store since 1934. With over 40,000 square feet of retail space, Norfolk has what you need at an affordable price, along with friendly customer service & expert DIY project advice. Visit us today and check out our in-store sale ad to see how you can save on all things home improvement.

Source: DoItBest