Change the air filters
Furnaces have air filters that need to be changed every 3 – 4 months and it is especially important to change them often when you are using your furnace regularly. A clogged filter blocks air flow to the furnace and trips safety switches inside. Sometimes these switches reset themselves after the filters are changed and the furnace resets but the switches can wear down and require replacement after being activated multiple times, so keep those filters clean!
Switch your thermostat to winter mode
If you have a programmable thermostat, (and you should!) switch it from cooling or auto to heat mode. Check to make sure the programming still works for your schedule. Keep in mind, on winter nights the temperature can drop below your minimum heat level, causing your furnace to turn on in the middle of the night. If you are a light sleeper or just don’t want your furnace running all night, make sure the minimum temperature is set as low as possible. Set your thermostat to turn on a minimum of an hour before you wake or getting dressed will be a chilling experience!
Test out your Furnace
After changing your filters, fire up your furnace by turning the heat up. If it does not kick in within a minute, there are a couple of things you can check before you call a service technician. First, check that the batteries in your thermostat are working and that the thermostat is firmly anchored to the backplate. Next, find the furnace power switch. Since the power switch look so much like a light switch, it is very common that it was accidentally switched off. If those things are fine, it may be an issue that needs a professional eye.
When your furnace fires up, you may notice a dusty smell. This is from the dust that settles in your duct work throughout the year that is now being blown out by the furnace fan. Having a professional duct cleaning once every few years helps tremendously to avoid this. Listen for any odd noises in the furnace room or at the vent covers. If you hear any rattling or squeaking, give a technician a call to check it our before it becomes a bigger problem. It seems to be the law of nature that your furnace will breakdown on the coldest day and most inconvenient times!
Change the batteries in your CO Detectors
Having a date set to change the batteries in your smoke and carbon monoxide detectors ensures that it gets done every year. All gas, propane or oil furnaces create carbon monoxide during combustion so it is very important to have a working CO detector in the furnace room. Even better, have multiple detectors throughout your home that are networked together to warn of danger anywhere in the home. Use this chance to change out the batteries or test all of your alarms and give yourself peace of mind throughout the holiday season.
Check exhaust vents
Current safety codes require furnace exhaust vents to be installed a certain distance from the ground or vented through the roof. Depending on the age of your home or furnace, this may not be the case with you. If your furnace vents out the side of your home, make sure there are no obstructions blocking the vent, even partially. A blocked vent can cause safety switches to activate in your furnace and shut it down or worst case scenario, cause carbon monoxide to enter and fill your home.
Cover your Condenser
If you have an air conditioner, you can get buy a condenser cover to protect it during the months when it sits unused. Condensers are designed to be outside in the weather so covers are not required, but a cover will stop leaves and twigs from getting inside so you don’t have to clean it out as often. Keep in mind that the air conditioner should NEVER be turned on when the cover is in place. If you have a heat pump and are not planning on using it for heat during the winter, there are covers available for them as well. Depending on the cover, they should be removed as soon as the weather warms up enough to melt ice. When water evaporates, moisture can get trapped under the cover and cause metal components to rust. Newer style covers tend to have vents at the top to allow the moisture to escape so it is a good idea to upgrade your cover.
Get a Tuneup
Furnace manufacturers recommend annual service on your equipment, in fact, most warranties require regular maintenance. Furnaces have many moving parts and cause vibrations that over time loosen screws, wiring and connections. Having regular maintenance will avoid costly and time consuming repairs. Technicians will tighten everything up and clean it like new, test for carbon monoxide and gas leaks and keep your furnace in tip top shape.
For service or repairs, give us a call at 604-552-2990. Our emergency line is open 24/7!