Furnace Upkeep Tips

A man works on a furnace.

Your furnace is responsible for providing heat to your home. It is a major system that should not be overlooked in your maintenance regimen. Generally, homeowners won’t have a long list of upkeep tasks when it comes to your furnace, but there are some things you should do regularly to help evade a visit from the repairman.

Check for Obstructions

To start, locate your air intake and exhaust systems of your furnace. These are often on the outside of the home. Take a look to make sure they are not gunked up with any type of debris. Many furnaces will shut off if they sense a blockage. Next, turn off the power to the furnace and also the gas flow if it is a gas model. Open the access panel. Look for the condensate tubing and make sure there are no clogs in the line. If there is, clean it out or replace the hose.

Replace Your Filter

hand replacing air vent filter

You’ve heard it before. In fact, it might be the one thing you already do regularly to maintain your furnace. If so, that’s great because dirt and grime not only cause problems to the system, but a dirty filter also sends dust and debris to every room in the house. Check your filter once a month and replace it a minimum of four times a year. If you’re not sure whether it’s time to replace the filter, install an airflow gauge that will alert you when the filter needs to be changed.

Clean and Inspect Electrical Components

With the power and gas still off, vacuum out any dust and dirt surrounding the components. Wipe things down with a moist cloth. Inspect wires and connections. Tighten bolts if needed. Use a cotton swab or toothbrush to get into small areas. Use caution so that you don’t loosen the wires or accidentally mess with the furnace's settings.

If you have an oiling port for your motor, check the oil level and add oil if necessary. Be sure to use electric motor oil only. Check your belt too. If it’s loose, tighten it. If it’s cracked or shows heavy wear, replace it.

Once the motor components are cleaned and maintained, reattach your panel cover.

Clean and Inspect Ducts

Ductwork in an attic.

Dirt and debris in your ductwork blow directly into every room so it’s important to clean them out on occasion. Use a vacuum with a HEPA filter to vacuum out your ducts. Also vacuum or dust all of your wall, floor, and ceiling registers. Remove each one so you can clean the inside too.

Look for any leaks where gaps have occurred in hoses or ductwork. If you find a gap, clean the area and apply spray foam sealant. Once dry, wrap the section with pipe insulation.

It doesn’t take a long time to maintain your furnace but ignoring the task could result in an unnecessary financial investment. Set aside a few hours before the winter weather hits to make sure your furnace is clean and ready to work through the season.