We are entering the colder months of the year, and it’s about time you bring out your furnace and have it running. The furnace could have developed small technical issues and problems having being left unused all through the summer. These issues and problems can have an effect on the furnace’s performance, causing a reduction in its efficiency and even leading to a situation that is expensive to resolve. It is usually best to have a qualified technician carry out a proper pre-run inspection, to ensure that the furnace is in a highly efficient and reliable state and also safe to employ. Short of that, the following are some of the simple checks that homeowners can carry out by themselves before running their heating system.
1. Check that your furnace has electrical power
It is essential you have your fuse or breaker box checked for any blown fuses or tripped breakers, as this could signify a major fault with your furnace or more importantly; the electrical system of your home. In case you are doubtful of the current state of your electrical system, immediately call for the help of a professional, as this is crucial in ensuring that your family and home are safe.
2. Check that the unit’s power switch is in the “on” position
Once in a while, there are cases where a furnace could have been mistakenly switched off, or even switched off on purpose and forgotten all through the summer. If you find yourself in a similar situation, look for where the power switch is located on your unit; you may find it in a metal enclosure. It’s usually advised that before opening an electrical component, you should, first of all, shut off power at your breaker/fuse box. There are some furnaces that may have a secondary breaker/fuse, which is usually located on or close by the unit – shut off power from that too. In case you detect any blown fuse or tripped breaker, then you need to have a licensed technician come and inspect the unit. This fault could signify that the unit is undergoing a major electrical problem.
3. Check that there are no obstructions in the exterior intake and exhaust system
It is important to perform this check to ensure that your furnace is operating safely without posing any hazard to your family and home. Debris such as windblown leaves, insects and rodent nests can gain passage into the important components of your furnace during summer, causing blockage of the airways and thereby preventing the proper flow of air in the system. This blockage of the airways will not only lead to poor performance but also cause the excessive build-up of heat and lethal gas such as carbon monoxide gas, which is a threat to both you and your family health. Hire a well-trained professional to inspect and fix the problem if you’re unable to do it yourself, in order to prevent unwanted circumstances on both your family and home.
4. Check your thermostat settings
Ensure the thermostat for your furnace is set to “heat” and that the temperature setting is set at a temperature that is sufficient to fire up the furnace. Although this check is simple to carry out, it is small details like this that can easily go unnoticed by a busy homeowner.
5. Check thermostat batteries
If you have a furnace that comes with a modern programmable thermostat, all you will require to operate it is just simple battery power. These kind of thermostats often come with a warning light that flashes whenever the battery is low. When the light flashes, then you need to have the batteries in your thermostat replaced with fresh ones. There are a few tricks that need to be employed in locating and replacing the batteries that are unique to each thermostat. In case you are experiencing problems with replacing the batteries in your thermostat, seek the help of a professional technician. Forcing the thermostat open or off the wall in trying to replace the batteries can damage the unit – do not attempt it.
6. Check your furnace filter
You may have a clogged filter if the warm air coming out of your heating registers is flowing at an unusual rate. The major cause behind the clogged filter is debris such as dust and hair that have built-up in your furnace filter over time, thereby restricting the flow of air. It is recommended for homeowners to change the filters on their residential heating system on a three-month basis. Call for professional help if you find yourself undergoing difficulty in finding or replacing the filter. Although this is not as vital as some of the above-mentioned checks, carrying out this check on a regular basis can improve the life of your unit and have it running at optimal efficiency.
7. Clean your air ducts
Having a clean duct system not only guarantees a good indoor air quality but also enhances the level of efficiency of the system. While you can hire a professional duct cleaning service, that has the necessary equipment to properly clean your duct system, it is possible to do a quick cleaning of the areas near registers, which can be of immense benefit. To carry out a quick cleaning of your duct system, first of all, remove the covers of each register with a screwdriver and then suck out the debris and dust within the ducting using the hose attachment on your household vacuum. This will only be able to cover a small part of the entire ducting. Therefore, you will require a professional in order to carry out a complete cleaning.
8. Test your safety detectors
Before you attempt to fire up your furnace, it’s essential to first make sure that the smoke and carbon monoxide detectors are working properly. There is no electronic device that does not have one or more flaw. Factors such as low batteries and other certain electrical conditions can prevent these detectors from functioning properly in an emergency. Which is why it is essential to have these units tested and their batteries replaced on a regular basis to make sure that in the event of an emergency, your family is safe.
9. Check your unit’s gas supply
Natural gas is a very fatal gas, which is why we usually advise homeowners not to handle or tamper with any of the components of the gas supply line or pilot light. In the event you smell gas or suspect gas leakage, immediately call 911.
10. Get professional inspection & maintenance
It is recommended by a majority of furnace manufacturers that homeowners should have their furnace tuned-up on a yearly basis by a licensed qualified heating technician. Tuning-up your furnace on a regular or yearly basis will not only keep it functioning at optimum efficiency but also extend the life of your heating system. You can ensure the safety of your heating system and reduce the risk of having to carry out costly breakdowns and repairs on it by performing regular proactive preventative maintenance.
For tune-up maintenance of your heating system, contact one of our friendly and experienced staff at American Air Conditioning & Heating today.