Your furnace has been, for all intents and purposes, napping for the last several months. But now the forecast is calling for some chilly temperatures, and you realize that beast in the basement needs a wake-up call. Here are six steps you can take, using some simple tools, to make sure your furnace is ready to keep you warm and toasty.
1. Shut down the power
Turn off the circuit breaker at the main electrical panel that supplies power to the furnace. Verify the power is off by using a non-contact circuit tester.
2. Unclutter the furnace area
Your furnace is a mechanical device, not a storage rack. Remove any items stored near or on the furnace, and make sure the immediate area is clear of debris. Clearing the area will prevent the possibility of fires.
3. Remove and replace the furnace filter
You may need a screwdriver to open the furnace filter door. Once open, pull the filter out and inspect both sides. Is it really dirty? If so, the air flow may be blocked, making your furnace less efficient and your home more dusty. It’s time to replace it. Make note of the size of the filter you need, and pick one up at any hardware store. If you have a reusable filter, wash it well and allow it to dry completely before reinstalling it. Put it back into the furnace and attach the door. While you’re at it, inspect other screws on the furnace’s exterior to make sure they are tightened and not corroded.
4. Clean the air registers
Locate all the air registers around your home. Make sure they aren’t blocked by furniture, and that air can flow freely. Remove the covers and dust or vacuum inside the duct, dust the covers, and replace.
5. Restore the power
Turn the circuit breaker back on at the main electrical panel.
6. Test your furnace.
Turn the furnace on at the thermostat; make sure it’s set to heat, not air-conditioning. Allow the furnace to run for about 10 minutes, and observe the temperature in the home. Is it warming up? Great! You can turn it off now. If you notice a hot or musty smell at first, don’t panic. Dust that built up during the warmer months is now burning off. The odor will dissipate on it own, but open a window if needed.
That’s it! However, heed this advice: If your furnace does not appear to be working correctly, contact an HVAC professional for further inspection.