4 Things to Check When You Turn On the Heat
It’s somehow already about time to fire up your furnace for the season. If this winter is anything like… every winter, it’s going to see a lot of use soon. Before that happens, however, there are a few quick things you should check. After all, you probably haven’t used your furnace much in the last couple months. Just like you, it needs time to adjust to the new season.
You don’t want to run into furnace problems over the holidays, when the stakes are high. That’s why it’s so important to perform a routine furnace-check up now, while it’s still bearable to be outside. Make sure the following things are firing on all cylinders when you go to turn on your furnace this fall, and you could save yourself a real headache (or brain freeze!) this coming winter.
Your furnace’s air filter keeps airborne particles like dust and hair from circulating through your home during the air cycling process. Over time, caught particles build up over the air filter, blocking air flow through it. A blocked air filter can lead to all kinds of problems.
Before turning on your furnace, pull out the air filter and see if it needs to be replaced. It’s usually easy to tell if your filter’s on its last legs: if it looks dirty, replace it. Filters need to be switched out once every three months or so, and now’s the perfect time. Replacing an old filter could have an immediate effect on your air quality and heating bill. Plus, it’ll save you from a bigger problem later!
Your furnace’s thermostat tells the system when to activate and how long to stay on. If it isn’t working, it’ll either never tell your furnace to start, or never tell your furnace to stop. Either way, a broken thermostat is bad news.
First, measure the air temperature in your home with another thermostat. Make sure your furnace’s thermostat is accurately reporting the real air temperature. Next, turn on the furnace and try setting the thermostat’s activation temperature below the current air temperature. If the furnace doesn’t activate, there could be an issue with the thermostat or the ignition. Check your ignition to make sure it’s on. Some ignitions have shut-off switches for safety. It’s also possible the furnace is connected to a circuit breaker if it’s electric.
Most home furnaces are forced air units. Forced air units heat air inside the main furnace compartment. When it’s warm enough, the furnace’s blower assembly activates. A motor-operated fan inside the assembly pushes air into the home’s ventilation system, circulating it throughout the home.
The air filter should make sure that particles don’t get into the blower assembly, but unfortunately it can still happen. When the blower’s fan gets dusty, it doesn’t operate as efficiently and it can get your home’s air dirty. Disconnect your furnace from its power source and open up the blower assembly (you may need a screwdriver). Take a look at the fan to make sure it isn’t too dusty. If it is, use a vacuum or wet brush to clean it. Be careful not to cut yourself on the blades.
Carbon Monoxide Detector
Carbon monoxide (CO) is a toxic gas produced by the incomplete combustion of carbon-based materials like gasoline. Inhaling excess amounts of carbon monoxide can result in flu-like symptoms, loss of consciousness, and even death. Faulty or inadequately vented furnaces can produce dangerous amounts of CO.
CO is odorless and scentless, so the only way to tell if it’s in your home is a carbon monoxide detector. Make sure you have a detector, and test its functionality before turning on your furnace. Most CO detectors are either battery or AC powered. Make sure yours has adequate power. Consider having a backup and backup power source as well. If your furnace is producing CO, open the windows, turn off gas appliances, and leave your home immediately. Once you’re in a safe place, call the Gas Emergency Hotline to get help.
If there’s one golden rule of HVAC maintenance, it’s always prepare before you have to react. Performing checkups all over your home is tedious, but doing it anyway could save you a lot of trouble in the future. Plus, it’ll be winter in the future. Nobody wants to do anything during the winter. It’s cold out.
If you suspect there may be something wrong with your furnace, or you just want to make sure there isn’t, give Blue Ox a call today. We can perform our famous 20 point furnace tune up to make absolutely sure you’re good to go this winter. Have a good rest of your fall, and stay warm!