Here Comes the Frost: How to Prepare Your Furnace for Winter

Once you feel the temperatures drop, you know it's time to turn on your furnace. But you haven't used the appliance for several months, and you worry that it might not work properly when your first turn it on.

Below, we've listed six ways to prepare your furnace for the winter. Follow the steps below to keep your home toasty and cozy all winter long, with help from HomeSmart.

1. Have Your Furnace Inspected
Before you turn on your furnace, call HomeSmart and schedule an appointment for a specialist to inspect the appliance. Your furnace hasn't been used for months, and our NATE-certified professionals can check it for any damage or problems. If our technician notices any issues with your furnace, he or she can more easily make repairs or replace broken or defective parts.

Additionally, a HomeSmart repair technician can perform maintenance work during his or her visit. Whether your furnace needs a simple tune up or a drain flush, this professional can perform these services to prevent problems in the future.

Don't forget to ask your HomeSmart technician to inspect your furnace's blower belt. If this part goes unchecked, small cracks or wear and tear will keep your heater from working properly.

2. Replace the Filters
Open up your furnace and pull out the filters. Not sure where to find them? Check your furnace's owner manual. Once you remove the filters from the furnace, hold a flashlight behind each one. If you can't see through either filter, you'll need to replace them.  But if your furnace has reusable filters, use the hose attachment on your vacuum to clear away any debris.

You should replace your filters every few months to maintain good air flow. If you have allergies or own pets, you'll want to change your filters every month. Clogged filters block air flow, so your furnace will have to work harder as a result. You'll even see an increase in your utility bills since a constantly running furnace uses more energy. 

To increase your furnace's energy efficiency, upgrade your current filter to a HEPA filter, pleated filter, or electrostatic filter.

3. Clean the Unit
Over the last few months, dust has likely accumulated on and around your furnace-and you don't want this dust to clog your newly replaced or cleaned filters.

In a large bucket, mix one tablespoon of dish soap with warm water. Then, use a few rags to wipe down the outside of your furnace. After you've cleaned off all the dust and gunk, use clean rags to dry off your furnace.

You should clean the outside of your furnace as often as you change the filters, as dust will settle on and around your furnace again.

4. Clear the Area Around Your Furnace
Most furnaces sit inside basements or large utility closets. And as a homeowner, you likely use this additional space to store Christmas decorations, camping equipment, or other sparsely used items. However, if you store too many items around your furnace, you increase your risk for fires.

When too many objects surround your furnace, they prevent the appliance from working properly. Additionally, the heat emitted from your furnace could cause one or more of these items to catch on fire. And the more objects you have in the area, the more fuel the fire has.
Clear all objects from around your furnace to keep your furnace functioning properly and to avoid fire hazards.

5. Clean Your Vents
Your vents require just as much care and maintenance as your furnace and filters do-especially because vent panels trap dust, pet hair, and other debris.

If possible, use a screwdriver to remove the panels off of your vents. Wash them in warm, soapy water, and allow them to dry completely. While you have open access to your vents, wipe down the inside surfaces with a wet rag-and only wipe down as far as you can reach.
Replace the vent covers, and remember to dust your vents regularly.

6. Take a Look at the Thermostat
Now that you've inspected and cleaned the most important parts of your furnace, check the thermostat. Replace the batteries and turn on the device. If you have a programmable thermostat, add in your preferred temperature settings to make your system more energy efficient.

If your home doesn't heat up after you turn on the thermostat, contact HomeSmart. Your thermostat may have loose or defective wiring, and our professionals can repair the issue quickly. And if your thermostat can't be repaired, our technicians can recommend replacement options.

To effectively prepare your furnace for the upcoming winter, take the steps listed above. And if the appliance stops working during the season, be sure to call HomeSmart. Our repair technicians can check the furnace and diagnose any issues. Then, he or she can make the necessary repairs to restore your furnace and keep you warm throughout the rest of the winter.

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