How to Get Your Furnace Ready for Winter

Avoid the last minute panic that occurs when you discover that your furnace is dysfunctional in the middle of the freezing winter – by preparing before the cold weather arrives. This can help you keep your heating bills under control and ensure that your home stays warm all winter long.  

Although the exact maintenance routine your heating system needs depends on the manufacturer, here are several simple tips you can follow to get your furnace ready for the cold temperatures.

1. Have your furnace checked out every other year.
Calling a professional to inspect your heating system can help you determine how to get your furnace ready for winter. It's the best way to ensure that it's working efficiently and to find out if anything needs to be repaired or replaced. Professionals can also determine whether there are any dangerous conditions that can potentially result in a house fire.

2. Replace the air filter as needed.
Furnace filters should be replaced every two to three months depending on the season and the type of system you have in place. Also, your filter should always be free of dust and debris.

If you have a central cooling and heating system, then filters should also be checked and replaced frequently during the summer. If your filter is located within the furnace, shut off power before attempting to replace or inspect it for safety reasons.

3. Inspect your chimney.
Check for any obstructions such as bird nests or debris. You should also make sure there is no significant soot buildup, as it can be a dangerous fire hazard. If your chimney hasn't been inspected in a long time, call a professional to check it and clean the ducts.

4. Make sure the burners are free of debris and dust.
Dust can accumulate during the summer, so it's very important to check and clean the furnace burners before the beginning of the colder season. While cleaning the burners, check for signs of misalignment and rust.

5. Oil the furnace blower if needed.
A big part of deciding how to get your furnace ready for winter is making sure all the components of your heating system are clean and in working order. The furnace blower motor plays a big role in how your heating system functions. It should be oiled once a year, and it shouldn't make any unusual noises when started.

6. Make sure your thermostat is working properly.
If a thermostat is not working correctly, your heating system may not be working efficiently. Turn on your thermostat, and monitor how it responds. It should start up immediately without any problems. If you have an old thermostat that must be controlled manually, consider updating it. Set-back thermostats are the best choice because they allow you to completely control the temperature in your home. A set-back thermostat can be automatically turned down when you're asleep or away, which can save you a lot of money.

7. Double check all heating vents to make sure that they are completely open.
Throughout the year, furniture is often moved around and new items are brought into the home. Walk around your house to make sure that nothing is blocking your heating vents. Blocked vents are not only useless since the heat can't get out; they are also a serious fire hazard.

8. Schedule an appointment to clean your furnace early in the season.
Professional companies get very busy at the onset of winter, so it's a good idea to schedule your appointment ahead of time. A professionally cleaned heating system will work better and more efficiently, saving you money in the long run.

If you are like most people, you probably need to know how to get your furnace ready for the winter, so you can save money, and keep your home warm. These tips are a great start, but keep in mind that you should contact a professional if you aren't familiar with how your heating system works. Keep your furnace clean, and replace equipment as needed. With proper maintenance, your furnace will work more efficiently, and save you money on expensive energy costs.

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