A heater technician adjusting a gauge on a boiler with the words "Heater Maintenance"

Taking care of your home’s HVAC system with regular maintenance and tune-ups is the best way to keep it running smoothly when you need it most. Specifically, caring for your gas or electric furnace is a must not just for keeping your home warm and cozy during the winter months, but for keeping your loved ones safe as well. After all, a poorly maintained furnace could lead to potentially dangerous malfunctions.

So, what are some of the things you should be doing to keep your furnace in its best repair? There are a few items you may want to add to your “to-do” list.

Clean or Replace Your Filter

One of the easiest yet most important things you can do to maintain your furnace is to simply replace the air filter as needed. After all, the filter in your furnace is in charge of removing potentially harmful particulates from the air, preventing them from dirtying up your furnace. Some common particulates removed by air filters include:

  • Dust
  • Dust mites
  • Pollen
  • Pet Dander
  • Bacteria
  • Spores

How often should you change your filter? Generally, about once every 90 days is recommended. However, for households where individuals may have sensitive allergies, respiratory issues, or pets, you may want to change your filter even more often.

What Happens if I Don’t Replace My Air Filter?

Failing to replace your air filter at least once every 30-90 days could result in contaminant build-up on the filter itself, which will continue to grow. Eventually, the air filter itself will become blocked, resulting in restricted airflow. This can impact the furnace’s ability to heat your home, causing it to work harder and suffer in efficiency. In rare instances, dust and contaminants could even find their way into the heater itself, increasing the risk of a fire.

Get Your Blower Motor Inspected Once a Year

Your furnace blower motor provides power for its fan, which pushes air through the furnace and distributes it to different areas of your home via air ducts. Likewise, your blower motor is responsible for pushing air through your air conditioning system—so it’s an important part that is used all throughout the year.

The blower motor also has a lot of moving parts that need to be inspected once per year to ensure that there are no issues. Even small issues now could turn into larger ones down the road, so a little proactivity can go a long way in saving you money and hassle. Any reputable HVAC company can come out to perform an inspection not just on your blower motor, but your entire heating system.

How Do I Know My Blower Motor Is Malfunctioning?

Generally, the biggest signs of a malfunctioning heater is excessive noise or strange noise coming from the heater during operation. Specifically, a noisy furnace blower can indicate a problem with the electric motor or the blower wheel. High, shrill sounds can indicate two of the metal surfaces are scraping or grinding together, which is equally troubling.

Meanwhile, if you notice a loud humming sound, your blower motor might be experiencing an electrical problem. It’s important to get an experienced professional out to your home to further investigate; never try to DIY a blower motor repair (or any other heating system repair), as this can cause more damage and even put your own safety at risk.

Make Sure Your Gas Furnace’s Exhaust Flue is Clear

If your home is equipped with a gas furnace, you’ll also need to make sure that its exhaust flue is clear at all times. Specifically, the gas flue is responsible for removing carbon monoxide, nitrogen, sulfur dioxide, and other dangerous gases that are emitted by your furnace outside of your home. 

However, if the flue is blocked and isn’t allowing the fumes to escape from your home, this increases the risk of major health complications that can include:

  • Headaches
  • Dizziness
  • Nausea
  • Fatigue
  • Heart Palpitations
  • Collapse
  • Unconsciousness
  • Death

Sadly, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), at least 430 people die in the United States each year from accidental carbon monoxide poisoning. Likewise, an additional 50,000 people visit the emergency room each year as a result of carbon monoxide poisoning.

If you have any reason to suspect that there’s a problem with your furnace’s exhaust flue, it’s important to contact your trusted HVAC technician immediately for further inspection. In the meantime, do not operate your furnace. It’s not worth taking a chance and risking your well-being or the well-being of your loved ones.

Make Sure There Are No Flammable Objects Near Your Furnace

Last but not least, periodically check to ensure that there are no flammable objects close to your furnace. Typically, furnaces are located separately from the main living areas of a home, in areas such as basements, crawl spaces, and storage rooms. Oftentimes, these spaces are also used for storage purposes. 

Unfortunately, when flammable objects are stored too close to a furnace, this can pose a fire hazard. Make sure that you are not storing anything around your furnace that could catch on fire, such as clothing, paint, or boxes. Taking the time to check and clear out the area around your furnace each time you change the air filter is a great practice to get into. 

Does Your Heater Need a Tune-Up?

These are just a handful of the many steps you can take to take care of your home’s heater and reduce the risk of dangerous malfunctions. From fire hazards to poisonous gas, poor maintenance on a furnace can lead to many potentially serious issues in your home.

Fortunately, taking care of your furnace is easier than you might think. If your furnace needs an inspection or tune-up, you can schedule one with Cote’s Mechanical Heating & Air Conditioning. We’re proud to offer comprehensive furnace inspections and tune-ups to keep your heater running safely and smoothly. Get in touch with our team today to schedule your tune-up or find out more about the other services we offer.

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