Before winter arrives, the most important thing you need to do for yourself and your family is to ensure that your furnace is operational, safe, and as energy-efficient as you can make it. When that first cold day hits, you don’t want to turn on the furnace only to discover that it isn’t working. A lot can happen during the warmer months to affect your furnace, so it pays to be prepared.

  1.   Prolong the life of your furnace – You probably have air filters behind a vent grill in the wall or ceiling, or a single furnace filter in the HVAC system itself. Change these filters regularly; some suggest every three months, others suggest monthly.  At least take a look at the filter after 30 days of operation, you’ll be able to tell if it needs to be changed. Or, if you have a permanent electrostatic filter, you can wash and reuse it. Cleaning or replacing your filters on a regular basis keeps particles out of your HVAC system and can prolong its life.
  2.   Save money on filters – Stock up on furnace filters during the warmer months. You often can find a bargain on furnace filters and other winter items during those hot summer months.
  3.   Prevent fire hazard – Keep the area around your furnace unit free of debris and clutter.  Remove any items you have stored near the furnace, particularly anything that is likely to catch fire. Also remove any household items that are suddenly sitting on top of or in front of your air ducts and return vents. You don’t want to discover you may have created a fire hazard, after it is too late.
  4.   Don’t leave your family in the cold – Turn on the thermostat. Switch from cooling to heating and set the temperature a couple of degrees higher than the current room temperature. If you don’t hear the heat kick on within a minute, pull off the cover and make sure the wire connections are secure (if you feel comfortable doing so). If the connections are snug, make sure the power source to the HVAC system is turned on. If it’s still not working, you could check the furnace fan, blower or heat pump — but it likely makes better sense to call in a professional HVAC service.  Be sure to do this BEFORE the colder months arrive, so you and your family stay warm.
  5.   Save money on your energy bills – You can save a lot on your energy bills by installing a programmable thermostat. This device will enable you to set the level of temperature of the furnace according to varying conditions. For instance, you can program the thermostat to increase the temperature during bedtime, and automatically lower it when you have left the house. Thermostat technology has improved significantly during the past few years. Now you can set the temperature through the Internet when you are away, or you can even program it for a full week. According to the Consumer Energy Center, you could save from 20 to 75 percent on your furnace’s operating costs by using a programmable thermostat
  6.   Prevent dangerous carbon monoxide from leaking into your home – Clean the heat exchanger. The heat exchanger should be brushed and vacuumed out annually by a trained professional while the unit is disabled.  While it’s being cleaned, your technician will look for cracks, which could lead to a dangerous carbon monoxide leak into your home.
  7.   Be sure you aren’t blowing dirty air into your home –  The hot air from your furnace is blown out through ducts or vents. Clean your air vents and ducts to remove dust and debris. Remove the vent covers with a screwdriver, and use the extension hose of your vacuum to reach what you can, or have your HVAC professional clean all your ducts thoroughly.  Also, don’t forget to inspect the exhaust flue outdoors to ensure it is free of obstructions such as branches or animal nests.

No doubt about it, your best bet is to call an HVAC professional service and have them come out and inspect your furnace. During a regular maintenance inspection, the repairman also will clean the furnace, change the filter, check for leaks and unhealthy gases, and ensure that everything is operational. You also can pay them to come out for a professional duct cleaning.

Miller’s Heating & Air can help you with all your HVAC repair and service needs.