Heating equipment is the second-leading cause of home fires, but many of those fires could be prevented with proper maintenance. With the cold weather making its way into forecasts, now is the time to perform seasonal furnace maintenance. Use this guide to ensure you maintain all the basics and keep your home and family safe during the winter months. All you’ll need is a screwdriver, a vacuum with a hose, light oil to use on the motor bearings, and a new air filter.
Turn Off the Power
Before you start working on the furnace, make sure you turn off the gas and power to it to keep yourself safe. There is usually a switch near your furnace that turns off the power. If you don’t see one, you can turn it off at the breaker in your home’s electrical panel. If you have a gas furnace, you’ll need to turn off the gas at the line. Look for a shut-off valve near the black pipe that connects to the furnace.
Install the New Air Filter
While the weather is cold enough for you to use your furnace, you should be changing the air filter every month. Use a screwdriver to open the blower door or the furnace’s access panel. You should find the air filter between the blower and the return air duct, although some furnaces have it directly in the blower unit. Remove the filter. If it is foam, you can wash it or vacuum it and then put it back in. If your furnace uses a paper or fiberglass filter, throw the old one away and put a new one in.
Vacuum Inside the Furnace
The inside of your furnace often gathers dust and other debris that can lead to a fire. Use your screwdriver to open the door on your furnace. Using the hose, vacuum all around the base of the furnace and inside the gas burners until there is no more dust buildup.
Add Oil to the Bearings
If you have an older furnace, or if its bearings aren’t permanently sealed, they will need lubrication. Find the oiling caps on the bearing shaft and drop some household oil into the spout below them. Be careful not to add too much oil.
Inspect the Fanbelt
Over time, wear and tear on fan belts can cause them to become loose. During your maintenance check, it is important to inspect the fanbelts. Look for signs of glazing, frayed sections, or cracked areas. If anything looks worn or broken, replace the belt. Be sure to check the tension of the belt as well. Push down on the center of it. If it doesn’t feel taut, tighten the belt. You can do this by loosening its attachment bracket to move the motor assembly. Once you tighten the belt, remember to re-tighten the attachment bracket as well.
Performing maintenance before turning on your furnace each year is essential to ensuring your home and family are safe. If you are unsure of how to do the maintenance yourself, or if you are simply too busy to fit it into your schedule, call a professional.