Keeping your furnace clean and maintained will go a long way in saving you money throughout the year. A dirty or damaged furnace is less effective, requiring extra stress and strain on all of its components, making it work extra hard for less output. Dirt, grime, and debris builds up in the furnace vents, clogs the air filters, and creates an unpleasant burning smell throughout your house. This is not only costly and unsanitary, it is also a potential fire hazard! Air National Texas is here to explain everything you need to know for simple do-it-yourself furnace maintenance.
Most home heating systems work in the following way. The heat sensor (thermostat) measures your home’s temperature and raises or lowers the temperature accordingly. When temperatures lower past a certain point, this device triggers your furnace into action. The heater is signalled and the blower turns on. As the heater combusts, the blower moves air over the heat exchanger and through your heating ducts, moving hot air throughout your home. The cool air in your home is drawn into your furnace via the return ducts and from there it is warmed and recirculated. Once the air in your home is at the desired temperature, the thermostat kicks in again in order to shut your furnace down. To keep this whole thing up and running throughout the cold winter months, it is a good idea to perform some do-it-yourself furnace maintenance on occasion.
To begin, start with a basic inspection. Look for black soot or other residue on or around your furnace. Next, turn your furnace on by raising the thermostat, and inspect the flames inside the burner. What you are looking for are blue, steady flames. This indicates a well-functioning furnace. If you see a lot of soot build up, or yellow, orange, or flickering flames, these are all bad signs, as they are indicators of poor combustion.
Safety is a big part of do-it-yourself furnace maintenance. Next, you will want to turn your thermostat down and let your furnace cool completely. You may also want to turn your circuit breaker off. Once your furnace is cool, open your furnace by removing the sides and vacuum out all of the debris, dust, and other grime that may have built up inside. Once that is done, you can clean off the blower’s fan blades using a damp rag. Also, check if your blower fan includes oil cups located at the ends of the central shaft. If it does have cups, add a few extra drops of oil to them.
Do-it-yourself furnace maintenance may require reparations from time to time. Most furnace’s blower fans are powered by an electric motor and fan belt, however some may be direct drive and won’t require a fan belt. In the case of your blower having a fan belt, check to make sure it is in good condition. Check its tension by pushing down on it. A belt that is adjusted correctly will have about a half inch of play. You can adjust the belt’s tension by loosening the motor mounts, and then moving the motor until the proper tension is achieved. Also, check for cracks in the belt, which are inevitably caused over time by heat drying out the belt. If your belt has cracks, replace it with a belt that is the same size.
At this point, you are ready to reattach the furnace panels. Turn your circuit breaker back on once they have been reinstalled.
The final step in your do-it-yourself furnace maintenance is to replace your furnace filter. While most furnace maintenance can be done annually, you should be replacing your filter once a month during the months in which you are using it the most. Replacing your filter should be easy. Once your old filter is removed and thrown away, simply look for the markings that indicate which side should be facing the furnace, and slide it into place.
Follow these basic steps for proper do-it-yourself furnace maintenance, and your furnace will stay functional and efficient year-round. A functioning furnace is not only important for your comfort level, but for your health and productivity as well.