Most likely the type of heating system you have in your home is a forced air system. This type of system typically will continue to run smoothly with regular maintenance. Without regular maintenance, your furnace can quickly wear out. Maintaining your furnace should cost you a few hundred a year, if not less. This is definitely more favorable than replacing the whole system. Proper maintenance will also keep your furnace operating efficiently. Efficiency is key to saving money on heating bills since heating accounts for about one-third of your energy bill. However, the biggest motivation for having your furnace serviced regularly should be safety. Your home furnace could be a source of a carbon monoxide leak if not properly maintained.
The number one thing you can do to keep your furnace in top working order is to clean it regularly! If you hire someone to do the job they will replace the air filter and clean the filter system, motor, and blower. If you’re cleaning the furnace yourself, you may use a toothbrush to clean the fan blades and any other small areas accumulating dust. Before providing any maintenance on your heater be sure to switch off the power to the appliance by locating a switch. Also, do not forget to shut off the gas to the furnace by locating the knob near the gas line. The gas line is a black pipe that will be connected to the furnace. Turn the knob so that it sits perpendicular to the line to shut it off. It is now safe to open the furnace door, and vacuum in all the crevices your vacuum attachment can reach. Remember to vacuum out the base and around the base of the furnace. Try to remove as much debris and dust as possible. After cleaning the actual unit, make sure the area around the furnace is clean and clear of clutter as well. Never store any flammable liquids nearby or even in your furnace room.
Once all debris is removed, remove the old filter and replace it with a new one. The filter on your heater should be replaced monthly during the heating season. Continue to check all fan belts. The fan belts help the furnace blower operate. If you ever find that your furnace is running but heat is not being pushed through the vents, check for broken or worn fan belts. Replace any that look frayed, cracked, or worn. Check the tautness of the belts by pushing on the center of the belt. If the belt gives in more than an inch, the belt needs to be tightened by adjusting the the attachment bracket. If at any point you smell a gas leak, this is a serious problem. Do not continue to work on the furnace but leave your home and report the gas leak to your fire department and gas company.
If the unit constantly shuts off whenever the furnace kicks on and trips the circuit, this is due to an electrical problem. In this case, it is necessary to call an electrician or service professional to take a look at the problem. They will know how to safely fix the issue.
When all inspections and cleaning has been completed. Replace the anything that you removed such as the access panel. Turn the gas line valve back on and return power to the unit. You may need to relight the pilot light as well. Allow your pilot light to continually run. This will keep condensation at bay even when the furnace is not being used. Finally, use your furnace only as much as you need. In the colder months, dress a little warmer so you can set your thermostat lower. You’d be surprised how much you could save over the season by dropping your thermostat a couple of degrees! Also, try turning down the temperature even more when no one is home to maximize your energy savings.
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