A few simple tasks can help you save hundreds of dollars on heating bills this winter. Saving money on heating is simple if you maintain your furnace. A well maintained furnace will operate more efficiently and last longer than one that is neglected. Luckily, maintaining your furnace is fairly easy. You can do it yourself! Read the 7 steps below.
If you would like to save a few dollars while ensuring that your furnace runs better and lasts longer, do the following things every year before the weather gets cold.
1. Replace all your filters.
In addition to not being as effective at filtering the air you breathe, dirty filters cause several problems for the furnace. They make the blower work harder getting enough air into the heat-exchange chamber so that you have enough warm air in the house. This can cause the blower motor to overheat and shut down.
2. Clean the area around the furnace and inside the filter box.
While you are replacing the air filters, vacuum around the furnace unit. Most furnaces are stuck in an out-of-the-way spot and get minimal cleaning during the year. Take the opportunity to clean up the area around the furnace when you change the filters.
3. Check your fan belts.
Fan belts that are too loose or too tight can cause problems with the blower and the fan motor. The tension in the belts should be set so there is about 1” of deflection at the center of the span. While you are looking at the fan belts, check to see if the inside surface (the surface that is against the drive pulley and motor shaft) is shinny or hard & brittle. Hard/shiny fan belts are worn and should be replaced. Replace any worn or frayed fan belts right away.
4. Lubricate the blower (fan) motor shaft.
Most electrical motor shafts have lubrication ports at one or both ends of the shaft that runs through the motor. Use a good quality, lightweight motor oil to fill these lubrication ports.
Warning: Do not spray lubricating oil around the inside of the fan. All that does is gum things up and get the odor of the lubricating oil spread all through the house.
5. Check to be sure the blower (fan) cage spins easily.
Check your blower (fan) cage by spinning it. As long as it spins easily, everything is fine. If it seems to rub or bind while it spins, you could have something stuck in the fan or you could have a worn out fan. If you can’t find anything stuck in the fan, get a furnace technician to check this out - you may have to replace the fan.
6. Turn on the pilot light.
Most gas furnaces require a pilot light to function properly (some of the more modern furnaces have electronic flame starters). Make sure your pilot light is lit.
7. Check your thermostat.
After you have done the mechanical maintenance on the furnace and made sure the pilot light is lit and working, check the thermostat to make sure that it is working. Set your thermostat control to ‘Heat’ and the furnace temperature control to higher than your current room temperature. Make sure the burner lights and the fan starts blowing. As soon as you have done this you can turn the furnace thermostat control back to a cooler setting and the status control back to either cool or neutral. To learn more about your thermostat, go to the manufacturer’s web site.