It is time to dust off that furnace, and our HVAC team is here to help. To kick off the season here is a checklist to get your furnace ready for the cold season ahead.
1. Change the Filter
The number one cause of a failed furnace is a cracked heat exchanger. The simplest way to extend the life of the heat exchanger is to routinely replace the furnace filter. Generally, furnace filters need to be replaced every 30 days, including 1” wide premium filters. High efficiency 4”+ wide filters can last from 90 days to 1 year, depending on the specific home.
2. Adjust the Thermostat
Most modern thermostats have batteries that need to be replaced annually. If you have a programmable thermostat, check the schedule and temperature settings to provide the greatest comfort and energy savings. If you have a non-programmable thermostat, set the fan operation to “auto” and set the temperature to your comfort. The exception here, would be if you have a high-efficiency air cleaner and a low-energy use blower motor, then set the fan operation to “on”.
3. Test Run Your Furnace
Turn your furnace on in early September, well before you need it. Avoid waiting until a cold fall October morning to turn your furnace on to ensure it works properly. October tends to be one of the busiest months out of the year for Minnesota heating companies, so avoid the rush and potential delay in service by testing the operation early.
4. Schedule a Tune-Up
All furnace manufacturers recommend annual maintenance by a qualified heating technician. At a minimum, the tune-up should include the following:
- Inspect and test all safety controls
- Check and/or replace the filter
- Check thermostat settings and replace the battery
- Clean and test the ignition system
- Clean and test burners
- Clean condensate drain if equipped
- Test carbon monoxide level
- Inspect heat exchanger
A furnace tune-up can be performed at any time of the year, but many customers prefer the fall, which typically results in paying full price and not getting the most convenient appointment schedule. Savvy homeowners will have the annual tune-up performed in the off-cycle time of the year to get reduced pricing and appointment times of their choice. Once you establish a time of year that works for you, simply stick to that cycle. Another advantage to having annual tune-ups is that you establish a relationship with a heating company resulting in priority scheduling if a repair or replacement is needed.
5. Consider Replacement
The Minnesota Commerce Department states that the typical life of a properly maintained furnace is 15 to 20 years. Do not wait for your furnace to fail, consider replacing it as it reaches 15 years old. Not only will you have a more reliable furnace, but new furnaces offer more safety features, higher efficiency, multi-heating stages, and variable speed blower motors resulting in safer operations, lower heating costs, and a higher level of comfort and reliability.
If your furnace is equipped with a central humidifier, replace the water panel, open the bypass damper (winter position) and set the humidistat to your comfort level.