Furnace Maintenance Tips for Fall and Winter

Technician replacing furnace filter

Regular furnace maintenance can help prevent untimely equipment malfunctions and ensure optimal home comfort on the coldest days.

Follow these simple DIY furnace maintenance tips to inspect your equipment and keep your furnace running smoothly all winter. We recommend scheduling an annual furnace maintenance visit by a professional to help prevent untimely equipment breakdowns. 

4 DIY Furnace Maintenance Tips

Conducting these simple furnace inspections before temperatures drop can maintain your furnace’s optimal performance, reduce energy consumption, and help extend the lifespan of the equipment for winters to come. 

Look Out for Leaks, Deterioration, and Loose Ductwork

Inspect your air ducts for leaks or significant wear. Look out for any visible deterioration, like kinks or dents on or around their air ducts. 

A homeowner may notice that their ductwork is loose, especially in rooms like the basement or furnace room, where there is exposed ductwork that makes rattling noises when the furnace turns on. 

Loose ductwork may result in poor system performance and a lack of heat circulating through certain areas of the home. 

Ductwork isn’t typically inspected during regular furnace maintenance, so if you’ve found this and suspect you may have an issue, we recommend you consult a technician. 

Frequently Inspect Furnace Filters

The furnace filter can collect common contaminants like dust mites, allergens, mold, pet dander, and more. Many homeowners forget to replace their filters, leading to equipment inefficiencies and potential breakdowns. Ideally, you should replace your furnace filter every three months. At a minimum, homeowners should switch out their furnace filters twice annually–once before the cold weather season and once after. 

Clean Dust and Lint Around the Furnace

Dust accumulation around the furnace can reduce the efficiency of the equipment. Before you enter the cold weather season, clean the area around the furnace. Cleaning can be as simple as vacuuming the area and wiping it down with soap and water. 

Don’t Block Air Outlets or the Furnace’s Air Supply

Check all of your air vents to ensure any furniture or rugs aren’t obstructing them. Blocking air outlets prevents optimal heat outflow throughout the home. 

Inspect the area outside your home that supplies your furnace with fresh air. Leaves, snow, or dirt can block this outlet and prevent proper air intake. Throughout the season, homeowners should inspect this area and remove any accumulation of natural debris. 

When to Call a Professional

It is essential to understand what furnace maintenance you can do yourself and when to consult a technician. We recommend scheduling a professional furnace repair if you notice any of the following problems in your heating system. Aside from doing specific repairs, a technician will look for the following issues when conducting professional furnace maintenance. 

Dirty Blower Fan Blades

The furnace blower fan is a key system component that blows warm air out of the appliance and into the ductwork. Significant dust and dirt buildup on the blower fan can result in various furnace problems. 

When neglected, a dirty blower fan reduces airflow throughout the entire heating system and lowers overall efficiency. It may also cause the system to short cycle while operating in the winter system. 

Ultimately, the debris stresses the furnace and can lead to premature system deterioration. Regular maintenance on your furnace can help avoid this, as the technician will visually inspect the fan motor and vacuum out any dirt or debris.

Improperly Firing Burners

The flame sensors, burners, and igniters will all be inspected during regular maintenance to ensure they work correctly. Dirt buildup on burners can result in incomplete combustion and cause system inefficiencies. It may also cause the furnace system to overheat and lead to premature failure. 

During furnace maintenance, a technician will verify and adjust the furnace input, which is the amount of gas burned by the burners. The technician will confirm that the input is operating to the engineered manufacturers’ specifications and adjust it if necessary. This ensures that your furnace is operating safely and efficiently. 

Blocked Condensate Drain

High-efficiency furnaces produce water during combustion. This water is called condensate and accumulates in the furnace condensate trap, which then diverts to the floor condensate drain or is pumped out via a condensate pump.

If any part of the condensate management system is plugged, the water will back up into the furnace and trigger the furnace’s safety function to shut down the system. 

During regular maintenance, a technician will inspect and clean the condensate management components and unplug the drain when necessary. A homeowner may notice that their condensate management system is becoming clogged if there is rust around the bottom of the furnace or rusty water nearby. 

Deteriorated Electrical Components

Modern furnaces rely on complex electrical components to achieve their high-efficiency ratings and reliability. These components include microprocessor boards, motors, switches, and wires. An expert must inspect these components for any signs of wear and tear, like electrical burnouts, frays or cracks. 

A technician ensures everything is in good condition during regular maintenance to prevent system malfunction. 

Carbon Monoxide (CO) Leaks

If you have a gas furnace, any deterioration of the furnace’s heat exchanger or flue pipes can result in a CO leak. Because carbon monoxide can pose health risks when ingested, regular furnace maintenance is a high priority to inspect the system for CO leaks or any system issues that can eventually lead to a CO leak. 

Trust Enercare with Furnace Maintenance

Preparing your heating system for the cold weather season can help ensure comfort in your home all fall and winter. In addition to simple steps that every homeowner can do to inspect their furnace, we advise getting regular professional furnace maintenance to prevent problems from occurring when you need your furnace most. Homeowners in Ontario can sign up for Enercare’s furnace maintenance plan to prevent equipment breakdowns and help extend the lives of their heating systems.