We’ve experienced one of the longest and coldest winters we’ve had in quite some time thanks to the polar vortex. This obviously means that your furnace has been working overtime in order to keep your home at a comfortable temperature. Constant use of anything will lead to damage—think of what a cross-country trip would do to your car tires. Your furnace and HVAC system are no different. Now that the end of winter finally seems to be nearing (albeit after spring has “sprung”), it’s time to treat your furnace to some much-needed maintenance. The majority of HVAC manufacturers recommend an annual checkup, and there’s no better time to do that than after it’s worked hard all winter to keep you warm.
Most people wait to have their furnaces serviced at the beginning of fall, as temperatures are falling and the house needs heated. That makes sense, and the busiest time for any company that services HVAC systems is the fall. But here’s the thing: if your furnace isn’t working, and you have a cold night coming up, you might have to wait a week or more to get it working again. If you perform regular maintenance after winter, it’ll be ship-shape by the time fall rolls around again.
First things first: somewhere outside of your home there will be a pipe that brings air into your home. Some call it a condenser, others call it a combustion pipe, or a heat pump—there are a lot of names for it. The point is that it needs to be clean and unobstructed. During fall and winter, leaves and ice can prevent clean entry for the air. Hit it with a pressure washer and get the inevitable accumulated dirt off of it. Check the exterior flue, too. You don’t want the exhaust getting caught on its way outside.
First and foremost: replace the filter. After a long winter, it needs it. And replace the filter every three to four months. If you have trouble remembering, write the date you replaced it on the filter box. You should also vacuum or dust any vents in your house, as they’ve probably accumulated a fair amount of dust over winter.
The indoor flue system should be inspected as well. Make sure it’s sufficiently attached to the furnace and shows no sign of rust or corrosion.
The fan and blower both likely need some dusting as well.
When we’re talking about the actual furnace unit, here’s the thing: get it professionally checked. I’m not a professional HVAC servicer. Likely, if you’re reading this, you aren’t either. Get a professional to look at everything, to check for gas leaks, to inspect all the many parts that make a furnace work. They know what to look for, and what doesn’t look right.
Regular Maintenance Is Still Recommended
Of course, there are a few other things you can do throughout the year to maintain the life of your HVAC unit.
- Keep pets away from your heating and cooling unit. Pet urine can actually cause some major problems.
- Clean around your HVAC. Keeping the room or area clean around your system will make sure that it functions properly.
- Get your air ducts cleaned every 3 to 7 years.
- Consider replacing your HVAC if it’s over a decade old.
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