As temperatures drop, the last thing you want is to find yourself searching for extra blankets or huddling around a space heater if your furnace gives out. While you can’t prepare for every uncertainty and surprise that may involve your furnace or heating system, there are steps you can take to reduce the risk of being without heat at the worst possible moment.
Clean and Replace Filters
The purpose of any type of filter is to keep icky stuff from getting into your heater. If you have a gas furnace, clean or replace filters before you start using it for the season. For heaters that are used a lot, especially if you have a larger or older home, make periodic checks of your filter to make sure it’s not clogged with dirt and debris. Look for the following indications that you may have a clogged or dirty filter:
• Higher utility bills for no clear reason (a clogged filter requires a heater to use about 15 percent more energy).
• You notice sudden cold spots in your home since air isn’t being easily passed through the filter.
• You suddenly have an increase in allergy symptoms or other respiratory irritations from unhealthy indoor air that’s not being properly filtered.
Check Your Thermostat
Your thermostat may not be all that honest with you. If you’re getting what’s normally a comfortable temperature reading but the room still feels chilly, it may be an issue with your thermostat. Even when your home is nice and toasty, do periodic checks to make sure you’re getting an accurate reading. Do a quick check of your thermostat by:
• Setting it 5 degrees higher to see if it comes on as expected.
• Removing the cover to make sure all wires inside are connected or tightly affixed.
• Using a separate thermometer, or a thermometer app that uses sensors on your phone to determine the temperature, to verify that the indoor temperature indicated on your thermostat is correct.
Clean Your Ducts
Dust can accumulate in places in some unexpected places in your home, including within your ducts. If it’s safe for you to do so, use a vacuum with an attachment to clean your ducts from time to time. You’ll want to do this more often, at least a few times a year, if you have a heating and cooling system that operates year-round.
Dust/Clean Your Blower
Located next to the air filter in a standard furnace, the blower assembly should be cleaned when you’re changing or replacing filters. Any dust or dirt that makes it through the air filter goes into the blower, which may make it work a little less efficiently. When any part of your heater isn’t working as efficiently as possible, it takes more energy to heat your home. Cleaning the blower involves:
• Removing the panels covering the filter.
• Using a damp cloth to wipe away dirt.
• Cleaning the pulleys and belts.
Maintaining your heater isn’t always a do-it-yourself task. If you’re not adept at lighting a pilot light or you’re dealing with something like unexplained sounds as your furnace is operating, call on a professional for assistance.
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Charlie Teschner started MESA Heating in 1982. Charlie has a journeyman and master plumber’s license. He was raised with a strong work ethic and he now applies those values to tasks such as Longmont, CO heating repair.
November 19, 2016