We rely on our heating systems a lot during Minnesota’s long, brutal winters. As we continue through the coldest months of the year, homeowners should take steps to minimize stress on their HVAC system to help prevent inconvenient breakdowns and costly repairs. Use these winter furnace maintenance tips to enjoy optimal performance, efficiency, and comfort all season long.
Keep the air filter clean. A clogged filter forces the HVAC system to work harder, decreases efficiency, and is also the most common cause of breakdowns. Be sure to change or clean your air filter every month.
Maintain a clear, clean area around the unit. Giving your furnace room to breathe promotes safe, efficient operation, as well as easy access to the unit for you or your HVAC specialist if necessary. As a general rule, give your furnace or indoor air handling unit three feet of clearance and clean the space regularly.
Inspect flue pipes for damage. Your furnace naturally produces gases during the combustion process, and flue pipes carry these gases to your home’s ventilation system to be safely exhausted. Check the pipes for any damage that could be leaking CO into the home, as well as signs of soot and/or rusting. Have an experienced HVAC technician inspect any issues immediately.
Clean supply and return vents. Supply vents feed warm air produced by your furnace to your home; return vents pull old indoor air and deliver it to the HVAC system to maintain indoor air quality and comfort. Cleaning them helps prevent dust and other airborne irritants from getting into the air you breathe or sucked back into the system.
Check for signs of dirty ductwork. Air ducts carry air between your HVAC system and home and naturally collect dirt, dust, and other debris over time. Issues to look for include mold around your vents or furnace, excessive dust accumulation (especially around vents), inconsistent heating throughout the home, unexplained increases in allergy symptoms and/or respiratory problems, and signs of a rodent or pest infestation. Schedule professional duct cleaning service if you see any of these, and plan to do so annually.
Turn the temperature down but keep the system on. Turning the thermostat down at night or when the house is empty can help cut utility costs, but don’t turn the system completely off. Having to fire the furnace back up whenever you wake up or return home requires more energy and adds unnecessary stress. Just remember to go no lower than 55 degrees (or closer to 60 during extreme cold) to help prevent frozen pipes. For ultimate ease and efficiency, consider installing a programmable thermostat that lets you pre-set temperature settings for multiple days ahead of time.
Don’t ignore the warning signs. Don’t wait for a complete breakdown to give your furnace the attention it needs. If you notice uneven or inefficient heating, unexplained spikes in energy bills, or any other furnace issue warning signs, call WestAIR for professional diagnosis and repair before the issue gets worse.
It may be the beginning of a new year, but we have a lot of cold days and harsh weather ahead of us yet. Follow these winter furnace maintenance tips to help your heating system run safely, efficiently, and uninterrupted for the rest of the season.