When cold weather arrives, it’s time to cue the furnace. Turning it on during a sudden freeze is not the time to discover there are issues. Now is the time to go over a few checklist items to make sure your heating system is primed and ready to do its job over the next few months.
Seal your ductwork
Before the weather gets too unfriendly, it’s a good time to go around checking for cracks or leaks in your ductwork. Loose joints can lead to a tremendous amount of energy loss, and it’s an easy thing to fix. Seal up any air escapes with mastic or aluminum tape. You could use duct tape, but it is likely to dry out and disintegrate within a year, and you’ll be repeating the effort next fall.
Listen to your blower fan
Whenever your blower fan comes on, you should hear a low steady hum. If you hear anything else, like a rattle or a squeak, that means something is wrong. It generally indicates that the fan blades that cool the motor and push the air are either warped or loose. This can damage your equipment over time, causing it to overheat and possibly fail. If you turn on your heating system and hear a strange noise, it’s best to have a Heating Specialties tech check your equipment.
Make sure registers are not blocked
It’s no good to be pushing out warm air if your registers are blocked. If your rooms feel cooler than usual, take a look at how you have your furniture arranged. Is there anything blocking the free flow of heated air? Is there any drapery that is covering a register? Do your pets like to hang out over register? Try to encourage pets to snuggle somewhere else – not only do they block the warm air flow for the room, but their fur gets into the vents and can clog them up.
Keep those air filters clean
Manufacturers recommend changing them at least every three months, but in some circumstances they may need to be changed more often. If you have older equipment or live in a dusty area, your filters are going to get dirty faster. Also, smoking and pet fur will can clog up your air filter, too. It’s important to check regularly and have a clean air filter. Dirty air filters can lead to dirty inside air – but they can also lead to lower energy efficiency and possibly even damage to your equipment.
Have regular maintenance
There are things you can do to keep your furnace working at optimum efficiency – but there are some things only a trained HVAC technician can do, and a yearly tune-up is a good way to extend the life of your furnace and ensure it will work properly when you need it. Energy Star has a regular maintenance checklist which breaks down which things homeowners can do and which things are better done by professionals. Either way, it’s a good idea to have regular maintenance contract.
Think about updating your equipment
If your furnace is more than 15 years old, or if you have a heat pump and it is more than 10 years old, this might be a good time to consider an upgrade. The technology of today’s more efficient Energy Star models can increase your comfort while providing significant energy savings.