Even though the summer heat and humidity are still hanging around, fall soon will be upon us, along with the cooler nights that will have you contemplating the need to turn on your furnace. The last thing you need on a cold night is to turn on the heat, only to discover it isn’t working properly.
The best time to have your heating system checked is while the weather is still warm enough not to need heat. Before the heating season starts, here are a few things you should do:
- Change your furnace air filter. (You should be doing this every month, anyway.) Having a dirty filter can increase energy costs and damage your equipment.
- Clean any dust or debris away from the furnace unit. Make sure there is no clutter around it, too. Improper airflow can result in decreased performance and potential system breakdowns.
- Ensure that all the vents and air returns in your home are open and free from obstructions.
- Once the temperatures are cool enough, switch your thermostat over to heat and see if the furnace fires properly. You might detect a bit of a “burning” smell when it first turns on, but this is normal.
- An important HVAC safety measure is to make sure your home consists of working fire and carbon monoxide detectors. These can provide peace of mind that your HVAC system is not a hazard.
It’s always a good idea to hire a professional to inspect and perform maintenance on your system every spring for the air conditioner and every fall for the heating unit. A professional can inspect and clean the unit, and is the best option for resolving the more challenging maintenance work that the average homeowner should not attempt on their own.
Here are some things a professional will do during a fall furnace checkup:
- A professional will clean, inspect and check. This means they will make sure all the major components are cleaned and are running properly. They will inspect the venting system. They will check the entire system for leaks.
- A professional will make sure to tighten all electrical connections and measure voltage and current on motors. They will lubricate all moving parts when necessary.
- Are the system’s controls operating properly? If you test your thermostat and the system fails to complete a heating cycle, be sure to let your technician know. A professional will check for any faulty switches, gas or oil connections, gas pressure, combustion, and heat exchanger. If any of these mechanisms are not running properly, it can cause inefficiencies and fire hazards.
- If you have an older HVAC system, the technician may need to relight the pilot. Newer systems have electronic ignitors – the tech can ensure it’s working properly.
- Oil furnaces require specific maintenance, such as replacing the filter, cleaning the burner nozzle, and a thorough cleaning of the heat exchanger. Oil doesn’t burn as cleanly as gas, which regular cleanings even more vital to the operation of the system.
Doing regular maintenance checks can save you money and energy, while prolonging the lifespan of your system. Proper maintenance will help ensure the unit can heat and cool your home efficiently. It will not only keep your system running smoothly, but it will also save you money in lower energy bills and fewer catastrophic breakdowns.