As the winter winds down, now is the time to do some furnace maintenance chores to ensure that it fires up and heats your home when you need it next year.
The vents that send hot air from your furnace throughout your home are called registers. When these vents become clogged with dust bunnies, dog fur, and other detritus, the airflow from your furnace is restricted.
Pipe brush treatment: one of the easiest and cheapest ways to clean your registers is with pipe brushes. Although tedious, these little brushes will scrub away dust and naturally sweep up any wispy bits fouling up the register. When scrubbing the registers, make sure that the bristles stay clean. Once you notice that the bristles get clogged with dirt and hair, swap in a new pipe brush.
Air it out and suck it up: after you dislodge grimy bits from your register, fire up your furnace one last time. Turn it on high and make sure that all of your registers are wide open. After letting the air flow freely for about 15 minutes, vacuum in and around the registers to make sure they're completely clean.
New Air Filters
Heating and air conditioning systems have air filters that protect the sensitive machinery from dust and also help pump cleaner air into your house. Like any filter, they need to be replaced periodically to ensure maximum efficiency and effectiveness.
Clean when you swap: when swapping in a new filter, spending a few minutes to clean the slot where the filter goes is well worth your time. To clean this area, use a duster to grab any dust that may be trapped in the area. After thoroughly dusting the slot, use a small shop vac or handheld vacuum to suck up any remaining dirt that might still be trapped. To test how clean the area is, insert the new filter, fire up your furnace, let it run for a few moments, and turn the system off. Once it's off, pull out the new filter. If it's not clean, repeat the previous steps again.
CO2 Detector Test
Few things are more potentially dangerous than a CO2 leak. Not only should you have CO2 detectors throughout your home, but you should also have a CO2 detector near your furnace. At the end of each season, it's a good idea to unplug the CO2 detector, replace the emergency batteries, and plug it back in. Most CO2 detectors have a test button located near the display panel. Engage the test feature to make sure that the CO2 system is still functioning properly and will alert you to a leak if it develops.
Hire a Pro
No matter how proficient you might be, a professional inspection every few years is well worth the money. When you hire a service pro, be sure that they not only inspect but also teach.
Pilot presentation: everyone who's able to safely handle a match should know how to light your furnace's pilot light. Having a service pro switch it off, go over how it works, and demonstrate how to re-light it can give you peace of mind. The service pro can also show everyone in your family how to shut off the natural gas or propane valve in the event that the CO2 detector goes off.
Life expectancy: when your service professional looks over your furnace, it's important to get a sense of how long they think the system will last. When they give this life expectancy, ask them for some specific ways that you might be able to extend the life span even further.
To learn more, contact a contractor who offers furnace maintenance services.