9 Pre-Winter Furnace Maintenance Tips and Tricks

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As the days grow shorter and a chill settles into the air, Canadians know it is time to prepare for winter. Your pre-winter routine might include switching out summer clothing for warmer coats and toques, protecting the garden and putting winter tires on your car. But what about maintenance for your appliances?

Your furnace, in particular, is about to have a winter workout. In order to avoid a breakdown in cold weather, it’s a good idea to make sure your furnace is in top form.

We’ve put together a list of furnace repair and maintenance tips for this winter. Let’s make sure this important appliance is part of your winter pre-winter routine:

1. Check the Thermostat

An important part of your pre winter furnace maintenance is to inspect your thermostat. Is the thermostat properly working? As temperatures start to fall, it is a good idea to make sure your thermostat is still functional.

If your thermostat setting reads a different temperature than the indoor air, you may have an issue that needs to be addressed before winter. Turn on the heat and feel your air vents to make sure you can feel warm air coming from them.

2. Reverse Your Ceiling Fans

While ceiling fans are useful all year, helping to move the air in your home, they can be more effective in the winter if you reverse their direction (so they run clockwise). This will help your fan to draw cool air up and push warm air down, effectively helping you make the most of your warmer air.

3. Seal Cracks Around Windows and Doors

Canadian winters can be hard on the most vulnerable areas of our homes, including the seals around exterior windows and doors. With proper sealing, your furnace won’t have to work as hard to keep your home warm or cool. Be sure to check the conditions of your windows and doors so your furnace can be as efficient as possible.

4. Change Your Filter

While some would argue that without pets in the home, you likely only need to change a furnace filter every three months, others say that it should be changed out every 60 to 90 days. In short, unless you have changed your filter in the last two months, it is a safe bet to make filter replacement part of your pre-winter furnace preparation. Changing your filter frequently not only allows your furnace to run more efficiently but might also prolong the life of your furnace.

5. Schedule a Furnace Service

Home specialists recommend routine maintenance for your furnace, with inspections and cleaning at least once a year. Service professionals will inspect your appliance, repair or replace worn parts, clean dirt from in and around the unit, check for leaks or cracks and make any other necessary repairs.

6. Lay Eyes on Your Air Vents

Before winter arrives, have a walk-through of your entire home so you can visually inspect your air vents. Make sure they haven’t become blocked or covered by furniture, toys or anything that can block airflow by accident. Blocked air vents can strain your furnace, forcing it to work harder than necessary. While you are inspecting, use a clean rag to remove dirt from the vents and catch basins.

7. Have Air Ducts Cleaned

If you haven’t had your air ducts cleaned in the last three to five years, it is a good idea to do so. Over time, home air ducts collect dirt, dust, toxins, pet hair and other allergens. If you’ve had renovation work done, you are sure to have drywall dust and other debris in your air ducts, as well. Clogged air ducts can reduce the efficiency of your furnace and can even become a fire hazard.

8. Check Carbon Monoxide Detectors

Carbon monoxide is a colourless, odorless gas that, when leaked in a home, can be deadly. In Ontario and Yukon, carbon monoxide detectors are mandatory by law in every home and building. But whether they are locally required by law or not, they are an essential part of home safety. Make sure you have at least one carbon monoxide detector on each level of your home and test them twice annually.

9. Check Your Home’s Insulation

Insulation helps to keep your indoor air temperature stable, reducing your overall heating and cooling costs. As you prepare for the cold of winter, consider adding insulation to your home, especially around window or door frames and to the attic, where a home’s heat can easily escape.

Giving your furnace and home heating system a once-over before winter is a good idea for several reasons. First, it helps to establish furnace preparation as part of your pre-winter routine. Second, it can help you avoid expensive, sudden repairs. And third, it can help prolong the life of your furnace. As you pull out your winter coat and schedule your car for winter tires, don’t forget your furnace—s bit of pre-winter furnace maintenance can go a long way.

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