Winter is in full swing, and you know what that means – your furnace is working hard to keep you warm and cozy all season long until spring. A well-maintained furnace not only ensures your comfort but also helps extend its lifespan and reduces the risk of malfunctions or dangerous incidents. But instead of calling in the professionals, you can save some money and learn something new by doing some basic maintenance tasks yourself. Here are some DIY gas furnace maintenance tips for homeowners to help you get started.
Before you start any maintenance work, make sure to turn off the power and gas supply to your furnace. This can usually be done by turning off the circuit breaker or switch that powers the furnace and shutting off the valve that controls the gas supply. Then, let the furnace cool down completely before proceeding.
It’s also a good idea to wear protective gear, such as gloves, glasses, and a mask, to avoid getting hurt or breathing in dust or debris. And remember, if you’re unsure about anything or feel uncomfortable doing the work, it’s always better to call in a licensed HVAC technician to handle the job. They are very comfortable with gas furnace maintenance on every make and model out there.
Check the Filters
One of the most important and simplest tasks you can do is to check and replace the furnace filters regularly. This can help improve indoor air quality, increase efficiency, and reduce energy costs. Depending on your furnace model and the type of filter you use, you may need to replace them every one to three months.
- Locate the air filter: It’s usually located in the return air duct near the furnace or in the blower compartment.
- Remove the filter: Slide it out of the frame or pull it down from the duct.
- Inspect the filter: If it’s dirty, clogged, or torn, it’s time to replace it. A dirty filter can restrict airflow and cause the furnace to work harder, which can lead to more wear and tear.
- Choose a new filter: Make sure to select a filter that’s compatible with your furnace and meets your air quality needs.
- Install the new filter: Slide it into place or insert it into the frame, making sure it’s securely fastened.
Clean the Blower and Motor
Another key component of gas furnace maintenance that needs attention is the blower and motor, which circulates air throughout your home. Over time, they can collect dust, debris, and pet hair that can affect performance and efficiency. Here’s how to clean them:
- Remove the blower access panel: Usually located at the front of the furnace, this panel gives you access to the blower and motor.
- Vacuum the blower and motor: Use a soft brush attachment to remove any dirt, dust, or debris from the blades, housing, and motor.
- Check the belts: If your furnace has belts, inspect them for signs of wear, cracks, or looseness. If they need to be replaced, this is a good time to do it.
- Replace the access panel: Once you’re done cleaning, make sure to secure the panel back in place.
Check the Burners and Ignitor
The burners and ignitor are responsible for heating the air in your furnace, so it’s important to make sure they’re in good condition as a step in your gas furnace maintenance routine. Here’s what to do:
- Locate the burners: They’re usually found in the combustion chamber at the bottom of the furnace.
- Inspect the burners: Check for signs of corrosion, cracks, or damage. Make sure they’re clean and free of debris.
- Check the ignitor: The ignitor is what sparks the gas to ignite the burners. Look for any cracks or discoloration, which can indicate a problem.
- Clean the burners and ignitor: Use a soft brush or cloth to remove any debris or buildup from the surfaces.
- Test the ignition: Turn the gas and power back on and run a test ignition cycle to make sure the burners ignite properly.
Check the Venting System
Your furnace’s venting system is responsible for safely expelling fumes and carbon monoxide outside your home. Make sure to inspect it regularly to ensure it’s in good condition and functioning properly. Here’s what to do:
- Check the vents: Make sure the outside vents are not blocked or clogged with debris, snow, or leaves.
- Check the flue: The flue is the pipe that runs from the furnace to the outside vent. Make sure it’s securely attached and free of corrosion or cracks.
- Test the draft: Light a match near the outside vent and make sure the smoke is drawn outside, which indicates proper draft. If the smoke doesn’t go outside, it could indicate a blockage or other issue.
These basic DIY gas furnace maintenance tips for homeowners can help keep your furnace running smoothly and efficiently all winter long (and prepare it for its summer hibernation). Of course, if you encounter any problems or need more in-depth maintenance, it’s always best to call in a licensed HVAC professional for assistance.
Taking care of your furnace doesn’t have to be complicated or time-consuming. By doing a few basic gas furnace maintenance tasks yourself, you can save money, learn something new, and ensure your comfort and safety all season long. And if you need any help or have any questions, don’t hesitate to contact Shepherd’s Plumbing, HVAC, and AC for all your heating and cooling needs.