Getting Your Furnace Up and Running After Summer

The temps turn fast, don’t they? Leaves may be on the ground before we know it. I know my old house is already starting to cool off. Makes sipping coffee on the front porch in the mornings great though, and the mosquitoes are starting to thin out. I’ve always been a fan of cold weather myself, but it does mean a few more must-do projects around the house to get it ready for the cold. One of those, of course, is getting the furnace all set after sitting dormant all summer.

Getting your furnace going is generally pretty easy, unless your pilot light has gone out which is not an uncommon problem.


Relighting Your Pilot Light

Relighting a pilot light isn’t difficult, but you should take some time to make sure you’re safe. You’ve probably seen movies where people try to light pilot lights and their houses explode. That’s a pretty extreme case, but gas is flammable, so be safe. Here’s what you do:

Set your thermostat to something that would mean your furnace would have to kick on, like 80 or above.
Find the pilot valve on your furnace. This is probably near the burners. The main gas line will run into it.
Find the gas cock or valve knob. Should be marked with “On,” “Off,” and “Pilot.” Turn it to “Off,” and go fiddle around somewhere else in the house for a while. You want the gas to clear out. Shouldn’t take longer than five minutes.
Find the pilot and get your lighter ready. I recommend the long stick matches, but the long butane lighters work too. Just don’t use a regular match—they burn down too fast.
Turn the knob from “Off” to “Pilot.”
Light your fire source and either press the red reset button (if you have one), or depress the knob. Whichever one your furnace requires.
Should take about 30 seconds for the thermocoupler to get hot enough to open the main gas line again. Once the pilot stays lit, turn your knob to “On.” This should kick on the burners.
If the burners don’t ignite, turn everything off and repeat the above steps. Just let the pilot work a little longer.

Your Furnace Filter

If your pilot light isn’t out, then all you really need to do is a little cleaning. Start with your furnace filter. You likely already have a few around. If you don’t, find the size (should be marked on the side of your existing filter) and buy a few. Remove the old one, toss it out, and replace it with a new one. Either slide it in, snap it in, or secure it however necessary. Easy as pie.

Clean Your Ducts

This is pretty easy, too. Take the covers off of all your vents (make sure there’s nothing obstructing them, too), and get your vacuum out. Use the hose attachment and use it to reach down deep. Get all the nasty stuff that may still be down there.

Exhaust Flue

You’ll notice a metal pipe that runs from the furnace to a wall, and then probably up a chimney or some other means up and away from your home. Make sure the flue is in good shape, heading upward nonstop. If you’re not sure what you’re looking for, get a professional in to check everything out for you.

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