Ways to Prep Your Furnace for the Cold

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The best way to keep your furnace functional and optimized year-round is with routine maintenance. However, particularly for those in very cold regions, a little homeowner TLC through the winter months could provide an added boost. If your furnace isn’t working properly, then it could be dangerous (there are furnace fires every year). You won’t get to stay as warm as you’d like and your energy bill could rise to monstrous proportions. For a furnace that runs smooth, it doesn’t take much time, effort or skill to perform these simple furnace maintenance tasks.

The number one energy zapper is a dirty filter. If your filter’s doing a good job, it’ll quickly gather up dust and debris. How often your filter gets changed-which is an easy task anyone can do-depends on usage. Common filter changes occur anywhere from monthly to annually, depending on the manufacturer suggestions. Write down the make and model of your furnace, and any home and garden center should have a replacement filter.

Here are a few more ways to make your winter cozier:

1. Keep outside vents clear

Locate where the exterior vent of your heater is and keep a close eye on it. It should be kept clear of ice, snow and debris. If you live in a particularly wintery Winter Wonderland, check your exterior vent daily. Your furnace can’t -breathe- otherwise and might refuse to turn on at all. This can be an unnecessary repair call, and extra hours left out in the cold, for a really easy daily maintenance task.

2. Keep the blower door shut

The -blower door- can be found covering the safety switch. It should always be kept closed, but may have worked itself loose (or perhaps during the last maintenance check it wasn’t closed properly). It’s easy to not snap it back in place after changing the filter, and remember that as a security measure sometimes these open doors can keep furnaces from starting.

3. Check the furnace fuse

Fuses can get -blown- from wear and tear or age in just about any machine-including furnaces. Sometimes it’s obvious when you need a new fuse, but other times only a professional can tell way in advance. This is something your technician should be doing during the annual check, but you can keep an eye on it, too. Faulty fuses can be a fire hazard, too.

4. Clear away the area near the furnace

You don’t have to wait until spring cleaning to take care of this task. Keeping a wide, clear berth from any heating source is a good idea. Unfortunately, furnaces tend to be tucked away in a closet or in basements that are hot hubs for storage. It’s best to play it safe, and perhaps even put up baby gates or other barriers if you’re a bit of a pack rat.

5. Monitor your energy bill

One of the best ways to keep an eye on your furnace’s -health- doesn’t require checking the furnace at all. If you notice something wonky with your heating bill, notify the utility company first. They can instantly see if something is truly off compared to other homes of your size/with the same heating source and your home’s history. Next, call in a technician. You may have a leak or a reason your furnace is working overtime.

Take care of your furnace and it’ll take care of you-and remember you’re not the only one struggling with a tough winter. Your furnace has a big job, and it needs regular attention in order to do its best work. Double up your efforts by relying not just on a local technician, but also on some homeowner maintenance.