Do you have a “mental checklist” of chores that need to be done a regular basis around your North Seattle home, such as cleaning the window treatments, washing windows, shampooing rugs, etc.? There are various areas of your home that need regular maintenance and cleaning – and that list includes your heating and cooling (HVAC) equipment. Do you know a poorly operating furnace can cost you in increased energy usage and higher utility bills? That same poorly operating furnace can be discharging harmful carbon monoxide gas into your home, creating a health risk.
So, it is important to keep your furnace in peak operating condition and the best way to do that is by making a checklist of HVAC maintenance tasks. Let’s look at five of them.
Check your filters. Routine replacement of your furnace filters should be every 1-3 months, depending on the indoor air quality of your home, number of occupants, size, etc. You can purchase disposable filters online, at a local “big box’ retailer, or from your local HVAC contractor. A visual inspection of your filter is the best way to determine if it needs replacing. If you have a removable electronic filter, it should be cleaned every few months using soapy water and a hose. Any restrictions to air flow through the filters can lead to poor Indoor Air Quality and will cause your furnace to work even harder to circulate warm air through your duct system.
- Clean and insect the blower assembly and motor. You can do this with a vacuum. Also check the fan belt to make sure it is not too loose or if it has any cracks or splits.
- Look for any obstructions in vents and returns. Believe it or not, your furnace needs “help” to operate. Any build-up of dirt or debris around the grilles of your ventilation system will just make your furnace work a lot harder. Do a visual check inside and outside and pay special attention to flues and chimneys, where indoor air is exhausted. Any blockage can result in an accumulation of poisonous carbon monoxide gas.
- Keep the area clean and clear around your furnace and water heater. Never store flammable liquids near your heating equipment. Your furnace room is not a storage closet.
- Revisit your home’s insulation. When was the last time you checked out the insulation in your attic or crawlspace? Is it securely in place or drooping down? Are there bald spots where the insulation has deteriorated? Is the insulation sufficient or should it be upgrade?
Tips 1 and 2 relate directly to furnace maintenance but tips 3 to 5 are equally important, having a direct bearing on how your furnace performs and its ultimate efficiency. If you follow all five tips and have an annual inspection from a qualified HVAC contractor, you should enjoy a fall season of comfort, warmth, and safety.