It's a good idea to inspect and service your heating system before cold weather sets in. Getting your furnace ready before it gets cold will save you from turning it on when you're freezing and finding out you have no heat. There are a few maintenance tasks you can do yourself, but you should call an HVAC contractor to service the internal parts of your furnace. Here are a few things you can do to get your furnace ready for a long, cold winter.
Clean Out The Dust
If your air conditioner and furnace are combined into a central unit, then your heating system may be fairly clean, especially if you had the AC serviced in the spring. Still, you should check the registers and vents for dust buildup. Cleaning these is easy if you use the wand attachment on your vacuum. You can also use the vacuum to clean dust out of the air handler so it doesn't get sucked into the internal parts of the furnace.
You can remove the outer door on the air handler to clean the inside, but leave the inner door in place. It should only be opened by an HVAC contractor to protect the warranty and for personal safety. Also, be sure to check the filter. It should be free from dust. Put in a new one if necessary and remember to check it at least monthly throughout the winter.
Check For Duct Leaks
The heating system ducts should be checked for signs of damage. If a coil duct is ripped or a metal duct has a loose seam, then heat from the furnace will leak into the attic and make your heating system less efficient. You can probably check the ducts yourself if they are in your attic. Look for openings where heat can escape and cover them with duct tape. If it looks like the ducts are rusted or if they have been used as nesting areas for rodents or other animal pests, then they may need to be replaced or at least cleaned out before you start using your furnace. Otherwise, the warm air may blow foul odors and contaminants into your living space.
Have The Furnace Serviced
Schedule an appointment with an HVAC contractor to have the parts of your furnace serviced. This includes testing the thermostat for proper functioning and cleaning the internal parts of the furnace itself. Worn parts should be replaced and the electrical system checked. The contractor will find problem areas if there are any so they can be repaired before you need to rely on the furnace for comfort. Your furnace may run many hours a day when winter comes, so you want to make sure it is up to the job, especially if it is old and at a higher risk of breaking down.
Preventative heating system maintenance can prolong the life of your HVAC and even save you from hefty repair bills caused by running a furnace that is malfunctioning. A good practice is to have your furnace serviced annually so it stays in good shape.