If your furnace is on the fritz, it can feel like your whole world is crumbling down around you. A broken furnace means no heat in the winter, and no heat means a cold and miserable home. The good news is that there are steps you can take to prevent your furnace from breaking down in the first place.
You can avoid furnace repairs by having it regularly serviced by a qualified technician. Additionally, you can help keep your furnace running smoothly by ensuring that there are no obstructions or impediments to airflow, checking the filters monthly, and replacing them when necessary.
Read on for a rundown of the simple tips and tricks you can use to avoid costly repairs and keep your family warm all winter long.
1. Replace Your Furnace Filter Regularly
One of the simplest and most effective ways to prevent furnace problems is to replace your furnace filter regularly. The furnace filter is the part of your furnace that catches all the dirt, dust, and other airborne particles that circulate through your home. Over time, this filter can become clogged, which can restrict airflow and cause your furnace to work harder than it needs to.
The tell-tale signs that your filters are overdue for a replacement include:
- Reduced airflow from the furnace.
- Strange noises from the furnace.
- An increase in dust or other allergens in your home.
To be on the safe side, aim to replace your furnace filter every three months, but if anyone in your household suffers from allergies, you may need to replace it more often. Remember, a dirty filter puts unnecessary strain on your furnace and can cause it to break down prematurely.
2. Keep Your Vents Clear
One easy way to avoid furnace problems is to keep your vents clear and unobstructed. Furnaces need adequate airflow to function correctly, so if your vents are blocked by furniture or other objects, it could cause your furnace to overwork itself and break down.
Here are a few signs that your vents are blocked:
- Uneven heating in your home (hot and cold spots).
- Rooms that are significantly warmer or cooler than others.
- The furnace shuts off prematurely.
- An increase in your energy bills.
If you suspect that your vents might be blocked, take a walk around your home and look for any objects that might be impeding airflow. Once you’ve cleared the vents, you should see an improvement in your furnace’s performance.
Extra Tip: Keep any flammable materials away from your furnace vents to avoid accidents. These simple steps can help ensure that your furnace will run smoothly for years to come.
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3. Inspect Your Thermostat Regularly
Believe it or not, your thermostat is one of the most critical factors in keeping your furnace running efficiently. If your thermostat is set too low, it could cause your furnace to overwork itself in an attempt to heat your home, leading to a costly repair bill down the line.
To avoid this problem, look at your thermostat settings and ensure they’re correct before turning on your furnace for the season.
If you notice that your furnace is running more often than usual or that your energy bills have skyrocketed, those could be signs that your thermostat is set incorrectly. If your home isn’t reaching the temperature you set on the thermostat, that could be another indication that it needs to be adjusted.
If you need a new thermostat, be sure to check out this article I wrote comparing two of the best options on the market: Nest and ecobee.
4. Clean Your Furnace Every 3 Months
Just like any other appliance in your home, furnaces need to be kept clean to function correctly.
Dirt and debris can block ventilation passages, preventing heated air from circulating properly. They can also build up on the coils and other vital components of your furnace, causing it to overheat and break down.
Here are the tell-tale signs that it’s time to clean your furnace:
- Your furnace doesn’t heat your home as well as it used to.
- The furnace makes strange noises.
- There’s an increase in dust or other allergens in your home.
- Increased energy bills.
How to Clean Your Furnace?
To avoid these problems, it’s best to clean your furnace every three months. To do that, you need the following tools and supplies:
- A vacuum with a hose attachment.
- A soft-bristled brush.
- A non-abrasive cleaner (optional).
- Working gloves. If you don’t have a pair at hand, I recommend these Vgo 15-Pairs Safety Work Gloves from Amazon.com. They’re durable, comfortable, and can be used for a variety of tasks.
- Dust mask.
Once you have everything you need, follow these steps to clean your furnace:
- Turn off the power to your furnace and ensure it’s completely cool before beginning.
- Put on your mask and work gloves.
- Use the vacuum hose to remove any dirt and debris from the outside of your furnace.
- After that, use the brush to gently scrub any remaining dirt and debris from the surface.
- If you want, you can use a non-abrasive cleaner to remove any stubborn stains.
It’s a relatively simple task that you can do yourself, but if you’re not comfortable doing it, you can always hire a professional to do it for you. If you need a tutorial, here’s a video for a step-by-step guide and handy tips for cleaning your furnace:
5. Don’t Ignore Strange Noises
If your furnace starts making strange noises, that’s usually a sign that something is wrong. Here are some of the most common furnace problems that can cause strange noises:
- Dirty burner assembly: If the burner assembly is dirty, it can cause your furnace to make a clicking noise.
- Loose blower belt: If the blower belt is loose, it can cause your furnace to make a squealing noise.
- Worn bearings: If the bearings in your furnace’s blower motor are worn, it can cause your furnace to make a grinding noise.
If you notice any of these problems, call a furnace repair professional immediately. Ignoring the problem will only make it worse and could lead to a complete breakdown of your furnace.
6. Be Careful When Using Space Heaters
In addition to keeping your furnace well-maintained, you can also avoid maintenance issues by using space heaters sparingly—or better yet, not at all!
Space heaters put extra strain on furnaces because they force the furnace to work harder to maintain a comfortable temperature in the home. If you must use a space heater, ensure it’s adequately vented so as not to cause any damage to your furnace or create hazardous conditions in your home.
7. Schedule Annual Maintenance Appointments
One of the best ways to prevent expensive repairs is to schedule annual maintenance appointments with a qualified HVAC technician. During these appointments, the technician will thoroughly inspect your furnace for potential problems and perform any necessary servicing or repairs.
In addition, they’ll also clean the furnace and make any adjustments that are needed to keep it running properly. That way, you’ll keep minor issues from becoming big (and expensive) ones later on down the road.
8. Invest in a New Furnace
If you have an older model furnace, it may be time for an upgrade. Older furnaces are less efficient than newer models and are more likely to require repairs. Investing in a new, high-efficiency furnace can save you money in the long run by reducing energy costs and repair bills.
A new furnace is a significant investment, but you can save money on the purchase by taking advantage of government rebates and tax credits. You may also be able to finance your purchase through your utility company or a lender.
If your furnace is over 15 years old, breaks down frequently, or needs expensive repairs, it may be time to replace it.
Your furnace is one of the most critical pieces of equipment in your home, so it’s essential to take good care of it.
Here are a few sure-fire ways to avoid furnace repairs:
- Replace the filters regularly.
- Keep the vents free of obstructions.
- Inspect the thermostat regularly.
- Clean the furnace every three months.
- Don’t ignore strange noises.
- Use space heaters sparingly.
- Schedule annual maintenance appointments.
- Invest in a new furnace.
By following these tips, you can keep your furnace running smoothly for years. Good luck!