Three Mid-Winter Furnace Maintenance Tips and Tricks to Avoid Repairs and Save Money
My New Year’s resolution is to get in shape. I’m not talking about bodybuilding, or doing P90X. I just want to be able to run a few miles and feel healthy when I’m done. My brother-in-law runs marathons and told me the key is dedication and consistency. As a devoted runner, he sees all kinds of people on trails or treadmills in January, but by March most of them are gone.
It reminds me of how most folks approach HVAC maintenance: they start the cold weather season all fired up, having their furnace checked out by a professional and buying new air filters, but soon they’re only interested in their furnace if it stops working. A furnace is a lot like the human body, though, and if you neglect it long enough, it gets weaker and breaks down. We’re halfway through the cold weather season, and it’s no time to quit. So let’s talk about some mid-winter HVAC maintenance tips and tricks that can mean the difference between whether your furnace lives a long life, or whether it stops generating heat before its time.
Tip #1 – Keep Your Filters Clean
Dirty or clogged air filters can block air from flowing freely into your furnace, and if your furnace can’t get air, it’s going to struggle—just like me when I’m running. During the cold weather months when you use your furnace more, it’s absolutely vital to prevent this kind of blockage.
See, air from your home enters the furnace through return registers and ducts. It then passes through your filter and into the combustion chamber where it’s heated and pushed back out into your home. This cool air is initially pulled in by the blower. If the filter is clogged or dirty, the blower becomes overworked trying to pull air past the obstruction. Basically, the blower will start to gasp harder for air, and this strain can cause it to fail. It can also lead to your furnace having to run more in order to generate the same amount of heat, costing you money on your heating bills.
A dirty air filter is also liable to harm the air quality in your home. Lint, dust, and other allergens get caught in it and if you don’t replace or clean it often, these toxins start traveling back into your home. If enough of them get into the air, they can cause sinus issues or itchy eyes. Getting a trained HVAC professional to check-up on your filter in the middle of winter is a great way to figure out if it needs to be cleaned or replaced.
Tip #2 – Listen for Unusual Sounds
Just because your furnace is blowing hot air doesn’t mean there aren’t problems building up inside of it. One way to identify these problems is by listening for unusual sounds. I’m not talking about the huffing, puffing, and wheezing noises I make while I’m running. No, I’m talking about serious rumble, pop, and bang noises—loud ones. These sounds aren’t normal, and they often serve as indicators of coming troubles.
Unusual noises, especially ones you didn’t hear at the start of winter, can indicate a number of problems with your furnace. For example, a scraping noise may mean that the blower wheel has gotten loose from the motor shaft and is hitting the housing when it rotates. Believe it or not, that kind of scraping is one of the milder noises that struggling furnaces make. A shaking or rattling sound can mean the burner is working improperly, and if that’s the case, you should turn it off and call a professional immediately. Not all noises, obviously, are signs of extreme danger, but, even so, it would behoove you to keep your ears open as the winter draws on.
Tip #3 – Don’t Ignore Annual Maintenance Appointments
Just because you didn’t get your furnace its annual maintenance appointment when the heating season began in the fall, or the last five seasons for that matter, doesn’t mean you can’t get it now that the chilly weather is underway. Simply put, there’s no bad time to have a trained HVAC technician make sure your furnace is in working order. Look at such check-ups as investments in the long-term health of your heater, much like running and exercising are investments in your health.
Furnace problems don’t care if it’s late fall or the middle of winter—they’ll pop up anytime. That’s why it’s so important for you to stay vigilant. What would you rather do? Pay to have a new furnace put in next fall? Or spend a few minutes this week listening for odd sounds before making a phone call to a trained HVAC professional? It’s an easy choice.
Having a professional out to service your equipment gives you a much better chance to catch problems early and dodge costly repairs, or scenarios that call for full-blown furnace replacement. It also provides you with invaluable peace of mind. You can rest assured that even after the cold weather is gone, your furnace will be ready and able to heat your home with minimal risk the next time that it’s needed. It may seem like a hassle now, but in the future you’ll be glad you did it. That’s what I’m telling myself about running, too.
Do your due diligence and get a mid-winter furnace check-up. Contact the trained HVAC professionals at Bell Brothers today!