Before firing up your furnace this winter, you will want to make sure you inspect the system ahead of time.
Your furnace has several different components that need to be working correctly in order to heat your home. Kaiser Air Conditioning is pleased to offer the following checklist of maintenance items to do yourself or call us to scheduling an annual furnace maintenance tune-up.
Before starting any DIY checks of the heating system and other related items, remember to employ proper safety practices and shut off the power, as follows:
- Turn off any electrical switches.
- Turn off any breaker switches.
- Verify the power is off.
Confirm the heating system has been turned to the off position on the thermostat. Then, double check the breaker has been switched off inside the breaker box. For older homes, you may have fuses instead of an actual switch. If this is the case, carefully remove the fuse and set it aside. Do not leave it partially touching the metal connectors or partially screwed in, as it could still send electricity to the heating system.
Change the furnace air filter(s). Depending on the age of the system, you could have more than one air filter to change. The primary air filter is the one that is part of the return air vent and could be located in a different location within the home. For smaller homes without a big return air duct, the filter(s) could be inside the furnace. In addition, some newer furnace models have a secondary air filtration system that is part of the furnace.
Filters need to be changed on a regular basis to ensure the proper air flow and functioning of the furnace. Did you know that dirty air filters can become clogged and reduce air flow? When this occurs, your furnace has to work twice as hard to function, which can lead to increased energy bills, overheating, breakdowns, and a reduction in the overall lifespan of the furnace.
For gas furnaces, verify the pilot light is lit. If you notice the pilot light has gone out, turn off the gas to the furnace. Never try to light an unlit pilot light immediately, as you do not know how long gas has been filling the room, and it could potentially cause an explosion or start your house on fire. If you are not sure where the pilot light is located or need help re-lighting it, contact our heating and air conditioning repair company for further assistance.
If your heating system is equipped with a humidifier system, make sure the humidifier is turned to the “winter” or “on” position.
Clean the area around the furnace. Dust and dirt can accumulate on the exterior of the furnace, which could be sucked into the unit when you turn it on for the first time. It is okay to notice a funny smell during the first few heating cycles. This is merely the dust inside the unit being burned off. However, if unusual smells continue and do not dissipate, there could be a more serious problem. Shut off the furnace and schedule heater service right away.
You should also never store any boxes, flammable items, or other objects next to or near the furnace. Make sure there is at least minimum of a three-foot-square section of clearance around the unit. In some homes, the water heater may be located next to the furnace, and, if this is the case in your home, expand your clearance area to include the hot water heater, too.
Adjust the air vent openings in the various rooms of your home. You may have shut off certain vents in the summer and want them opened in the winter. You will also want to verify the direction of the air flow that blows out of the vents and make adjustments as needed. While you are checking and adjusting the air vents is a great time to vacuum the vent openings and remove any dust.
Schedule a furnace service tune-up and inspection with one of our experienced heating technicians. Annual maintenance and tune-up of your home’s heating and cooling system ensure it is operating correctly. During the maintenance and tune-up process, our technicians look for potential problems that could affect how your system functions.
Identifying these problems sooner, rather than later, helps avoid major and costly repairs. In addition, the operation of the heating system is optimized so that furnace operates efficiently to heat your home. Other optional services which you can request are to have your ducts inspected and checked for air leaks, duct cleaning, and indoor air quality (IAQ) testing and installation of IAQ products.
During the technician’s visit is the perfect time to consider signing up for our monthly maintenance plan. There are many key benefits a monthly plan provides, like making sure your heating and cooling system are functioning correctly, changing air filters, and offering discounts on parts and repairs should they be required.
Change the direction of your ceiling fans. People tend to overlook this important step and wonder why they feel cold in their homes during the winter. The reason you want to reverse the direction of the ceiling fans is because you want the direction of the air flow blowing upward toward the ceiling, not downward onto your skin.
When the air flow is blowing downward, even if it is moving heated air, once it comes into contact with your skin it will make you feel colder. While you are changing the direction of the ceiling fans is also a great time to dust off all those fan blades!
Verify there are no unusually cool spots within the home. If certain rooms of the home feel cooler than others, the room is not being properly heated. There are several different reasons which could cause cold spots. For instance, the air vent into the room might be closed all the way or have a piece of furniture sitting over it, restricting the air flow.
Another cause of temperature variation could be small air leaks around windows and doors. Hold your hand up around the exterior frame of the windows and see if you can feel cool air coming into the home. If so, then you will want to get weather stripping to stop the air leaks.
Last, remember to turn the breaker switches back on or reinstall the fuses and switch the power back on for the heating system, as well as the electrical switches for your ceiling fans.
Should I Use a Cover on My Outdoor AC Unit?
One common question we get quite often, especially as people are preparing their heating systems for the fall and winter, is whether they should put an outdoor cover over the outside AC condensing unit.
Here in Southern California, while it does get cooler during the fall and winter months, there are times when it can heat up and you may want to turn on your air conditioning system. It is for this reason we DO NOT recommend putting a cover over your outdoor AC unit. You would be surprised by how many people have accidentally destroyed their AC systems simply because they forgot they had put a cover on the outdoor unit.
Do not hesitate to contact Kaiser Air Conditioning at (805) 988-1800 if you require assistance with any of the above steps or would rather have our experienced heating and cooling technicians take care of all your AC and heating repair and maintenance needs.