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Get Ready for Winter: Prepare Your Furnace for Cold Weather

On December 22nd, 2022

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A broken furnace can be heavy on the pocketbook. The average cost of repair can run you anywhere between $150 and $450, not to mention raising your utility bill, further inflating the financial burden.

However, you can dampen these costs by ensuring proper furnace maintenance. For starters, get your furnace thoroughly inspected by a professional technician before turning the dial up upon winter's arrival.

Types of Furnaces

Although they all serve the same purpose, furnaces have been divided into several categories including:

  • Propane Furnaces
  • Gas Units
  • Electric Furnaces
  • Oil Furnaces

Every category of furnace brings unique pros and cons. For example, a gas-powered furnace is the most cost-effective option. However, its installation is more involved and requires a gas line.

Regardless of the type you own, consistent maintenance and cleaning are needed to ensure proper functionality. The appliance will tell you that it requires restoration, you just have to catch the clues it throws at you.

Signs Your Furnace Requires Maintenance

Furnaces demand constant maintenance and attention. A furnace might face various complicated issues over time, and if not resolved immediately, the situation might worsen. Analyzing every component of your heating unit in order to address these problems is not required. If you only pay attention to your equipment's signals, you will know exactly the problem. These signs include:

Abnormal Smell

Furnaces generally have a naturally occurring smell of the material they are made of. If the component is producing any other kind of odor, it is probably a sign of fuel leakage.

An unusual smell could be from leakage in the gas pipe or excessive dust settlement in the unit. Trying to resolve the problem yourself may just worsen the situation. Calling an expert is probably the best move.

Difficulty Switching the Unit On

Having trouble turning the unit on or issues with keeping it running are common problems for an old heating unit. If your equipment requires multiple attempts to get started or restarted throughout the day, it's desperately asking to get repaired.

Discoloration of the Pilot Light

Pay close attention to the color of your heater's pilot light. Pilot lights in perfect working conditions are generally blue in color. Any other color, predominantly yellow, is a sign of abnormal ventilation. These issues typically occur when gases like carbon monoxide don't evaporate as they should. This can cause serious health issues and can be hazardous to you and your family. If not addressed on time, the unit becomes even more vulnerable to an explosion.

Inadequate Heat

If the furnace cannot produce heat at all, schedule a repair. One of the most common reasons this issue arises is leaking ductwork.

Persistent Noises

Every furnace produces some sound while running. But persistent and loud noises are a red flag. Whistling or squealing sounds may occur from a malfunctioning fan or belt, while groaning or banging may come from loose and broken internal components.

Poor Quality of Air

Your furnace system directly impacts indoor air quality. A furnace left to its own devices circulates bacteria, dirt, and other pollutants around the house. In the case of allergies, the number of foreign components present in the atmosphere of your home may cause watery eyes, headaches, itchiness, etc.

Faulty Carbon Monoxide Detector

Every furnace is equipped with a detector that monitors the leakage of toxic gases. If the sensor is behaving abnormally, immediately turn off your furnace. Once the appliance is turned off, open windows to promote proper ventilation and immediately get in touch with us so an HVAC technician can pay you a visit.

Maintain Your Furnace

While many repairs should only be done by a professional technician, there are plenty of things that can be taken care of DIY style. Before inspecting your heat regulatory system, though, ensure the fuse or breaker box is powered off.

Basic Inspection

Look for leaks or damaged pieces of equipment. Utilize compressed air to clear out any dust, dead insects, or debris.

Wiring

Analyze the wiring connections to ensure none of the connections are loose or rusty

Test Thermostat Parts

Check all dampers, fan speeds, and valves. Use a laser-based temperature sensor to ensure your thermostat is reading the correct temperature.

Confirm Settings

While performing all the tests, ensure your heating unit's settings are aligned. For example, your temperature set points and thermostat scheduling function correctly according to your needs.

Replace Air Filters

The air filter attached to the furnace prevents dirt, dust, and other contaminants and materials from circulating throughout your home. This filter should be replaced at the beginning of the winter season.

Replace the Furnace's Water Panel

This is one job that should only be carried out by a furnace contractor rather than homeowners. The humidifier pad ensures that you are provided with adequate humidity by preventing the air from getting too dry. Relative humidity should not exceed 45%.

Always make sure to turn off the furnace before detaching the filter; otherwise, you allow unfiltered air in your household. It must also be ensured not to spread or spill any debris accumulated on the removed filter.

While installing a new filter, ensure it is assigned a proper MERV (Minimum Efficiency Reporting Value) rating. Anything below a rating of 10 should be avoided; it won't be efficient enough to trap all the air-born particles.

Duct Maintenance

Before you switch on the furnace for the winter season, properly inspect the ducts. Duct leaks and damage are common in a furnace and heavily contribute to poor heating. Gaps, holes, or any other damage can be the reason for wasted heat.

Clean Air Ducts

Vents are notorious for collecting dust and dirt over time. If left unattended, they may restrict the airflow and lower indoor air quality. Use a wet cloth to clean up all the openings and ensure there's no blockage in any of the vent openings.

Avoid Fire Hazards

Ensure each piece of clutter has been removed from the area surrounding the heating unit to avoid a potential fire hazard. Test your carbon monoxide detectors and replace units or batteries if required. Ensuring that this component is operational is crucial for the safety of your family and home.

Bring On Cold Weather

A faulty heating unit is the only thing worse than a chilly winter night. As a responsible homeowner, once your heating system has received some of these key points of attention, you'll be prepared to flip the switch when the temperatures take a nose dive. And if you don't want to spend the energy doing them yourself, give AccuTemp a call. Our team of technicians is ready and willing to provide furnace services you can depend on. Our experience in all HVAC areas and customer service is second to none.

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