Photo by: Shutterstock
Who doesn’t love spending a cold winter evening cozied up by the fire? People doing it because of a broken furnace – that’s who. Don’t want that to happen to you? Here are a few ways to keep your furnace from failing this holiday and tips on what to do if it does.
It’s the most wonderful time of the year. You’re hosting a party and roasting marshmallows when your furnace decides to blow. Every year, families just like yours end up in this exact situation because of a simple lack of preventative maintenance. Why wait for a problem to pop up before taking action? Even a few small tasks can drastically reduce your chances of a problem – especially during the hectic holiday season?
"Keeping your heating system in peak condition will help your home stay warm and cozy during the cold weather.” says David Leon of American Home Shield. "About a month before you expect chilly weather to move into your part of the country, have a preventative maintenance service performed by a qualified professional to make sure that your unit is ready to work properly.”
As temperatures begin to drop, service calls start pouring in. Of course, this can lead to immense backups, and the fact that many places aren't available on Christmas and New Years just compounds the problem. That’s why an important part of making sure your family isn’t stuck without heat over the holiday is creating a maintenance schedule and sticking to it. Let’s take a look at what that means for your furnace.
First Things FirstThe most important piece of preventative maintenance you can do for your furnace is replacing the filter. It may seem obvious, but countless homeowners neglect even this simplest of measures. Replacing the filter once a month can not only add years to the life of your furnace, but also clean up your air quality and reduce the number of potential allergens floating around your home.
via AAF International
A standard furnace filter, also known as a Spun Fiberglass Filter, is the least expensive option and should run you less than $5 at your local store. While it works just fine at collecting dust, it doesn’t adequately filter out the finer-sized particles. A Pleated Disposable Filter is slightly more expensive, but will provide four to eight times the filtering capability of the spun fiberglass filters.
If you suspect that your family requires something a little more heavy duty, an expert can help consult you on which option is best for your given situation. Many people who suffer from common home allergens opt for the more efficient, four-inch filter. The only catch there is that it may require a new set-up, which could cost upwards of $500.
Recently, new options like the Electric, Mass Media, and Washable Electrostatic Filters have a high initial cost but offer much higher filtration rates. These too, however, can run around $1,000 and require modification to the duct-work, which in this case would not be a DIY project. Of course, either of those is a small price to pay if it’s your family’s health you’re trying to protect.
Other Standard MaintenanceNow that you’ve covered the basics by ensuring you replace the filter once a month, we can move on to the more technical, yet still relatively simple, forms of maintenance. Before going any further though, let’s stress the importance of remembering to turn off the power and fuel supply to your furnace before doing any inspection or maintenance.
1. Clean the Burners
You know that dirty, dusty smell that happens every time you turn on your heater after a nice, warm summer? That’s your furnace burning off all the particles that accumulated in its downtime, and it can be just as bad for the burners as it is for your air quality. At the start of each cold season, be sure to vacuum or wipe off the burners and keep an eye out for signs of misalignment or rust.
2. Test the Thermostat
Start by turning on your thermostat and monitoring how it responds. It should start up immediately without any problems. If it doesn’t respond immediately, or if it’s significantly out of date, consider updating to a newer model. Programmable thermostats, which can be automatically turned down while you're asleep or away, are the best choice. While they can be confusing, if you spend some time to figure it out, they can easily end up saving you a boatload on bills.
Related: Installing a WiFi Thermostat
3. Unblock the Vents
Over time, homeowners often add or rearrange furniture without thinking about how it affects their airflow. While you are thinking about it, take a walk through the house and make sure there is at least an inch-or-two’s worth of clearance in front of every air vent. Blocking vents not only prevents heat from getting out, but also can cost you more money as you’re likely to crank up the heat to compensate. Over time, this could even end up overheating your furnace and burning it out years earlier.
4. Oil the Furnace Blower
If you want your heater to last, it’s important you (or a qualified professional) oil the furnace blower motor once per year. If done properly, it shouldn't make any unusual noises when started.
How to Find Service During the HolidaysPerhaps the most important takeaway from this article is that you should always schedule maintenance before you need it, not once it’s already broken. This goes not just for your furnace, but also for your home’s other major components as well. Check with your local Better Business Bureau, Angie’s List or ask friends and neighbors for a solid recommendation.
Of course, if you have an American Home Shield® Home Warranty Plan, you would have 24/7/365 access to all types of professionals from a single point of contact. An AHS® Home Warranty can help protect your budget from unexpected breakdowns to your home’s major systems and appliances. Find out more at ahs.com today.
Next > How to Prepare Your Home For an Arctic Blast