Furnace safety and cleaning are crucial to keep you and your family safe, but they are also important to the overall efficiency of your furnace. Performing these furnace cleaning and maintenance tasks can actually prolong the life of your furnace and coax it into operating at maximum energy efficiency.
Change Your Furnace Filter
Furnace filters are designed to filter airborne contaminants from your home. These contaminants include dirt, dust, pollen, pet dander and other allergens that can negatively impact your indoor air quality (IAQ). Allergy sufferers should change their furnace filters on a regular basis to help maintain optimal IAQ. It’s also a good idea to replace your furnace filter whenever you notice it becoming dirty or clogged. When choosing a new furnace filter, look for a MERV rating (minimum efficiency reporting value), which is a measurement of the size of particles that can be trapped by the filter. Higher-rated filters trap smaller particles and are best for residential furnaces. Typically, it’s recommended that you change your filter once every three months. However, this will vary depending on the type of filter you have, your climate and other factors.
Clean The Furnace
Regular furnace cleaning is essential to keep your system running efficiently and effectively. It can help prevent major malfunctions and unexpected repairs, extending the service life of your equipment and reducing your energy bills. To start, turn off the gas and electrical power to your furnace. Locate the access panel that covers the combustion chamber and remove it. If your furnace is fueled by oil, change the filter. This captures contaminants before the oil circulates, preventing misfires and minimizing the risk of a breakdown. Next, blow off any dust and dirt from the pilot light assembly or hot surface ignitor (depending on the type of ignition system inside your furnace) as well as the flame sensors. Once these areas are completely clear, vacuum out the combustion chamber to eliminate any lingering soot.
Clean The Vents
One of the easiest ways to keep your furnace safe and clean is to regularly clean the vents in your home. Dirt and lint in the ductwork can build up over time, and it’s not uncommon for these to ignite and cause a fire. To safely remove the buildup, you’ll need a vacuum cleaner and a brush. Something like a toilet brush works well, but you can also use a stiff-bristled paintbrush if you have them handy.
Check The Heat Exchanger
Performing these very basic furnace cleaning and maintenance tasks can actually prolong the life of your furnace and coax it into operating at maximum energy efficiency. That’s a win-win for you and your wallet! When your heat exchanger cracks, it can allow toxic carbon monoxide gas to leak into the home. This dangerous natural gas is a silent killer, so it’s important to get your furnace checked out by a professional as soon as possible. In addition, if your heat exchanger leaks water into the furnace, it can also be a sign of a problem. This is because water can corrode the metal and shorten the lifespan of your furnace. Having your heat exchanger replaced can be expensive, especially if your system is more than 10 years old. However, it’s worth the cost to avoid a potential catastrophe!