How To: Seasonal Furnace Maintenance
June 2nd, 2014 by admin
With the cold weather shifting to the warm of the spring and summer it’s important to remember what kept you warm all through the winter. Your furnace worked hard through all those freezing days and nights, and now it finally gets to take a break. At the end of this season you need to take the time to do some maintenance on it in order to keep it working properly.
Furnaces need to be cleaned and maintained regularly to work at their highest efficiency. Throughout the winter and during its use, furnace filters may need to be changed monthly. Gas furnaces produce some small amounts of carbon monoxide that leave through the venting system, but an older and less efficient furnace that hasn’t been well maintained could be producing larger amounts of the odorless, colorless, and toxic gas. Because of this, it’s important to have a carbon monoxide detector near where the furnace is sitting.
End of Season Maintenance
Many people may not think that they need to do any work to their furnace unless there is a direct problem with it. However, over time furnaces can wear and develop small cracks or leaks that aren’t easily detectable by the human eye. And, while most furnaces are equipped with a shut-off valve that will engage when a problem arises, some older units don’t really have any safety features. So, a seasonal furnace maintenance can greatly benefit not only the health and lifespan of your furnace, but possibly also the health and lifespan of you and your family.
Step 1: Turn off furnace power
Make sure that everything is properly shut down before you start your maintenance. Doing this keeps you safe from any electrical accidents or gas exposure. There should be a switch located nearby your furnace. If there isn’t, you’ll need to go to the electrical service panel and turn off the proper breaker. To turn off the gas, find the gas line that connects to the furnace and use the shut off valve.
Step 2: Vacuum the interior
Open the furnace door and get a vacuum that has a long snorkel attachment. Using that, clean out the gas burners and the base of the furnace. Look for any loose debris or dust and remove that as well, eliminating any excess buildup inside the furnace.
Step 3: Change the air filter
As we said before, you’ll want to change the air filter monthly during the heating season. The air filter should either be located between the return air duct and blower OR in the blower door unit itself. For this, you may need to use a screwdriver to open the blower door or access panel. Once it’s located and can be accessed, remove the filter. Fiberglass and paper filters usually have an arrow on the frames to show which way to properly insert it back in. Foam filters can simply be washed or vacuumed for a cleaning and then replaced.
Step 4: Check fan belt
Fan belts can wear down and get loose easily, which means you need to check them often. Inspect the belt for any kind of damage like cracking, glazing, or fraying. If there is any damage, replace the belt. You also need to check the tension. Do this by pushing down at the center of the belt. It should feel taut. If it deflects more than ¾”, you need to tighten the belt. To tighten the belt you need to loosen the attachment bracket and move the motor assembly, and then finally, tighten the attachment bracket back.
Step 5: Lubricate oil bearings
Furnaces that are old or have a motor lacking permanently sealed bearings will need to be lubricated. Do this by locating the oiling caps on the bearing shaft and dropping a few drops of household oil on the spout below the caps. But, you shouldn’t completely cover the caps in oil.
Step 6: Replace furnace cover and turn on gas and power
After you’ve done all of that, give the furnace one last look over before replacing the cover and turning on the power and gas. You may need to relight the pilot.
If you want extra peace of mind, you can always call for an expert opinion. Here at JK Mechanical we pride ourselves in serving the local community and making sure we help them with safe and smart energy solutions with our 35 years of knowledge in the business.