Heating your home can be expensive, but it’s a necessary expense. That’s why it’s important to give your furnace the upkeep it requires. Luckily, there are a few things you can do on your own to keep your furnace running smoothly … and save money in the process.
Safety notes: Always turn off the electrical power and fuel supply before performing maintenance on your furnace. If you don’t already, you should have several CO detectors around your home to alert you of a potential emergency situation.
1. Check and Clean Your Burners
Entrust a professional to make any adjustments on your burners, but you can at least perform a visual inspection to make sure they’re burning efficiently and cleanly. It’s better to catch any issues early on so they don’t turn into bigger, more expensive problems later. To do this:
- Make sure the power is off
- Remove the combustion chamber door
- Check the burners and heat exchangers for any cracks or abnormalities
- Turn the power back on and activate the burners by turning up the heat
- Flames should be even and blue
- Yellow flames indicate dirty burners
2. Vacuum, Vacuum, Vacuum
A good vacuum at the beginning of the season can help ensure you don’t waste money by running an inefficient heating system that’s clogged with dust.
- Turn the power and the fuel supply off
- Vacuum the burners and the furnace base
- Use a flashlight to look for and clean up soot, which can indicate poor combustion and can corrode the chamber walls
- Lift off the blower door and vacuum the blower compartment
- Remove any floor registers and vacuum out the ducts, or clean radiators and baseboard heaters, making sure they are not blocked
3. Clean the Flame Sensor
Your furnace burners may have trouble lighting if the flame sensor is dirty. Pull the flame sensor out of its bracket and clean with a piece of fine emory cloth.
4. Replace Filters
This is one of the most important things you can do for your furnace. A fresh filter will keep the furnace running well and will keep the air in your home clean. While there are newer, high-efficiency filters that don’t need to be changed as frequently, common $1 fiberglass filters work just fine if you replace them every one to three months.
5. Install (or Check On) a Thermostat
If you don’t already have a programmable thermostat, install one! It’s a project you can do yourself, with the help of some YouTube tutorials. Having the ability to control your home’s temperature will save you a ton of money. In fact, setting your thermostat back 10 to 15 degrees for eight hours a day can save you up to 15 percent a year on your heating bill.
If you already have a thermostat, change the batteries at least once a year. If the thermostat doesn’t run properly, the furnace may shut down.