4 Tips For Preparing Your Furnace For Winter

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Like other machines and appliances, your furnace can suffer from months of disuse through the summer and early fall. Taking the time to make sure your furnace is in good shape before winter hits will reduce the chances of a breakdown during the coldest part of the year. Here are four tips for preparing your furnace for the winter.

Inspect the Blower Motor Belt

If your furnace blower isn't working properly, you will notice that little or no air is coming through the vents in your home. The blower motor is driven by a belt that can wear and break over time. So it is a good idea to do a quick visual inspection of the belt even if you don't notice reduced airflow from your furnace. Any damage that you see on the belt is a sign that it is likely to break soon.

To examine the blower motor belt in your furnace, you will need to remove the furnace access panel. Most furnaces have an access panel on the top or side of the housing that either slides off or is held on with screws. When you remove this panel, you will see a large rubber belt attached to two pulleys. If you notice cracks, fraying, or glazing on the belt, you should replace it as soon as possible.

Clear Obstructions From the Exhaust Flue

Your furnace exhaust flue plays an important role by expelling toxic and combustible gases from your home. If it has been a few months since you used your furnace, it is possible that the flue has become blocked by falling leaves and other tree debris, or by a small animal that took up temporary residence in the flue and left its nest behind.

Identifying a blockage in your furnace flue is simple: if you are unable to see outside when you look into the flue, there is something obstructing your furnace's exhaust. To check for obstructions, remove the flue cap that is usually located on the flue pipe somewhere near the furnace. Be sure you reattach the flue cap firmly to prevent exhaust gases from leaking into your home.

Clean the Furnace Burners

The burners on your furnace need to be clean for proper combustion to occur. Dust, grime, and old soot from past use will build up on the burners over time, preventing them from lighting or causing them to go out intermittently.

If the burners are not visible when you open your furnace access panel, you should see a burner door that is held in place by screws. Remove this door, and then turn the furnace on at the thermostat to examine the flames. Clean burners emit a blue flame, while yellow flames indicate that the burners need to be cleaned. Turn the furnace off and turn off the furnace breaker, and then use a vacuum hose to remove as much dust and soot as possible from the burners and the area around them.

Clean and Uncover Heating Vents

Not all winter preparations take place at the furnace itself. It is important to make sure that every vent register throughout your home is free of obstructions such as furniture and window curtains. This will make it easier for your furnace to distribute heat evenly throughout your home, reducing how long you have to run the furnace and improving its efficiency.

Your vent registers will often catch dust, carpet fibers, and pet hair that become trapped in the ducts directly behind them. Using a vacuum hose to clean your vent registers and the ducts behind them will further improve the efficiency of your HVAC system. This will also reduce the amount of airborne contaminants that are blown around by your furnace, making allergy flare-ups and respiratory problems less common for everyone in your household.

Use these tips to keep your furnace running efficiently and avoid the inconvenience of repairs throughout the winter.

For more information or assistance with professional maintenance and repairs, contact local HVAC contractors, such as those at Cape Fear Air Conditioning & Heating Co., Inc..

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26 January 2016

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