It’s easy to push off routine maintenance for your furnace when it’s been out-of-mind for the summer and has worked fine the few times you’ve used it this fall. It’s important, though, to be proactive before winter hits because a well-working furnace is essential to keep you and your family comfortable and your pipes from freezing. It’s also more cost-effective to take preventative care than be surprised with a failure down the road. Here are six things you can do to prevent your furnace from failing this winter — you’ll thank yourself later.

1. Change Your Filter

Make sure to change your air filter before turning the furnace on for the winter. It’s important to routinely change your filter anyway, and we recommend changing it every one to three months. Failing to change your filter regularly can cause it to become clogged with dust, hair, or other particles. This not only affects your air quality, but it also forces your system to work harder. This can cause your blower fan to wear out and ultimately result in an HVAC system failure. Read our blog about picking the right filter for your HVAC system, and make sure you have the proper size for your unit.

2. Clean Your Vents and Registers

Your vents and registers are what allows air to flow through your home, so similar to changing your filters, it’s important to clean your vents and registers. Dirt and objects such as food or toys can fall down them, so cleaning them and removing any foreign objects can allow it to run more efficiently and prevent the smell of burning material. Dust and grime can also build up on your vents or registers, once again making cleaning important for both air quality and not overworking your system.

How to Clean Your Vents and Registers

  • Turn off your HVAC system
  • Remove the vents or registers from your air ducts
  • Dispose of any objects, such as food or toys
  • Vacuum your ducts, vents, and registers
  • Wipe your ducts, vents, and registers with a rag as needed
  • Reattach vents and registers and turn on your system again

3. Test the Thermostat

If you haven’t turned your furnace on at all yet this season, you should run your furnace to make sure everything seems to be working as usual. While testing your thermostat doesn’t actually prevent your furnace from failing, it does allow you to make sure everything’s working before you need it. It’s also important to check your thermostat battery. A thermostat battery should last three to four years, so if it’s due for a new battery or you’re not sure when it was last replaced, it might be time for a new one to avoid your thermostat not working this winter.

4. Check the Intake and Exhaust Pipes

Your unit’s intake and exhaust pipes regulate the air coming in and out of your home. Buildup such as leaves or heavy snow can block these pipes, which could cause your system to break down and allow carbon monoxide to build up in your home. It’s important to keep your family safe and prevent furnace failure by clearing any buildup around the pipes before winter, then regularly cleaning them throughout the season after it snows.

How to Find Your Intake and Exhaust Pipes

Your intake and exhaust pipes are the (typically) white or black curved PVC pipes outside of your home near where your furnace is located. These pipes are usually found by your home’s foundation, which is why they can easily be blocked by leaves or snow. Occasionally these pipes are located on or near the roof, in which case they can still be blocked, but not as likely to be affected by buildup.

5. Clear the Area Around Your Furnace

You should give your furnace plenty of space — around three to five feet — to allow air to circulate freely and prevent any safety issues. The latter concern is especially important for gas-burning furnaces as certain materials could catch on fire or combust, including paint, gasoline, clothing, and other fabrics. While it’s important to give it space, there are also some items that shouldn’t be kept anywhere near your furnace such as cat litter boxes or cleaning solutions. Ammonia fumes from those and any related items could cause corrosion of the heat exchanger in your furnace. Keeping the space clear and avoiding the items mentioned is important to prevent your furnace from failing and putting your family at risk.

6. Schedule a Routine Furnace Service Check

We recommend getting service checks on your HVAC system twice a year, including a service check on your furnace before winter comes. Your technician will perform a checklist of action items, from checking the ignition system to lubricating the fan motor, cleaning and adjusting motors, and more. While it’s important to perform preventative steps yourself, it’s crucial to have a professional technician examine your system to make sure everything is working properly and suggest any repairs or replacements as needed.

Contact Wyckoff for Furnace Maintenance, Repair, or Replacement in the Des Moines Area

The best thing you can do to prevent your furnace from failing this winter is getting a furnace service check from Wyckoff. We offer a Peace of Mind Service Plan that provides two preseason maintenance inspections (spring and fall) to ensure your furnace and air conditioner are prepared to take on whatever temperatures the weather brings, among other benefits with this plan. This investment ends up saving a lot of money and hassle while allowing you to rest easy knowing your HVAC system is effectively doing its job. Protect your HVAC system and prevent any unexpected issues by signing up for our Peace of Mind Service Plan today.

If you do notice any issues with your furnace, contact Wyckoff to have a technician visit your home, properly assess your issue, and determine what type of repair is needed to properly heat your home this winter. All of our technicians are SAVE-certified ensuring that the technician working on your furnace has the experience and knowledge necessary to know what the most efficient and cost-effective repair for your furnace will be.