Is your furnace ready for fall and winter?

Is your furnace ready for fall and winter?

Fall is here and winter will be here before you know it.

Is your furnace ready for the weather change and the demands of plummeting temperatures? Believe us: you don’t want to be caught in the middle of a winter cold swing and have your furnace decide to call it quits. Unfortunately, that very likely could be when we are at our busiest, especially given the harness of Spirit Lake, Iowa winters on home HVAC systems.

But you don’t have to find yourself in that situation. Here is what to look for to determine whether your furnace is ready to heat your home efficiently and safely this winter – and what you can do if you suspect the unit needs some attention from a professional.

Check for dusty vents

One of the first furnace checkup tips we share is to look around vents for any signs of dust buildup. Dust and dirt are no friends to furnaces. They can cause parts and components to fail.

Sometimes, just changing a furnace air filter can do the trick in helping keep the dust at bay. However, if the dust has been building up for a longer period of time, then it might be time to call in a professional for a cleaning.

While the HVAC pro is cleaning the unit, they can also check for any recommended repairs or further winterization steps.

Change the air filter

Even if you don’t notice any dust building up on the walls, ceilings or floors around the vents or in the vents themselves, it’s still advisable to take a look at your furnace air filter. While some air filters can last a few months, others can only remove dust, dirt, allergens and other unwanted particles for about 30 days.

Furnace filters not only help improve the air quality inside your home, they also can extend the life of the HVAC system. A furnace has to work harder to pull air through a dirty filter than it does a clean one. Plus, a dirty filter leads to a dirty furnace, which again, is a recipe for part failure at some point if not addressed.

Check your furnace’s manual for the recommended type and size of air filter you need if you aren’t sure. It’s always a good idea to have a spare filter or two on hand for when you need to replace.

Clean the air ducts

All components of an HVAC system need to be cleaned from time to time. One of the most ignored, though, are a home’s air ducts. Dust and dirt gathers in ductwork and gets blown around whenever heating or cooling your house.

If you find yourself having to change out air filters that are getting dirty more quickly than normal or have done any work to the house that might have resulted in large amounts of dust being kicked up, such as a remodeling project, then cleaning the air ducts is not a bad idea. This isn’t something that has to be done often, but it’s a good idea periodically that can make a difference in how efficiently and cleanly a furnace and the rest of the HVAC unit operates.

Listen for any odd sounds when operating

Furnaces are obviously going to make some noise – some more than others depending on brand and style. But you shouldn’t ever hear any overly odd sounds from a furnace while it is kicking on, operating or turning off.

Some red flag noises to listen for that are clear signs that there is likely something wrong going on are pops, squeaks, screeches, scrapes, rattles, bangs or booms.

Any of these sounds could signal that the furnace or a part of the furnace is dirty or damaged and in need of replacement or repair.

Don’t ignore strange odors

As with sounds, you shouldn’t notice any strange odors coming from your furnace. Odors including oil, burning or musty could be something as simple as needing an air filter change, but safe is always better than sorry. Have a professional service the unit if there are any odd smells.

Another smell to take seriously is any sort of gas odor. A gas leak is no joke and should be treated as an emergency.

Natural gas leaks are commonly described as having a smell similar to rotten eggs or cabbage. This is from mercaptan, an additive in natural gas, which is odorless by itself.

The furnace doesn’t get hot or won’t blow air at all

Forgive us for stating the obvious, but a furnace that doesn’t blow warm enough air – or doesn’t blow any air at all – is in need of an immediate diagnosis.

This scenario can be jarring for any homeowner, which is why we recommend confirming that your furnace can indeed function properly before you actually need it this fall or later on this upcoming winter.

We would also encourage you to test the thermostat to make sure it is working and communicating with the rest of your HVAC system as intended. Note any temperature discrepancies and let an HVAC technician know when you have the system serviced or repaired.

Have parts serviced and the entire unit checked

If a furnace or parts of it are going to fail, it’s commonly either the igniter, blower motor or heat exchanger. Schedule a service appointment to check up on all of these critical furnace parts and make sure the unit won’t fail when you need it most.

A service professional will also be able to address quite a few other common mechanical issues, including:

  • A loose blower belt
  • Blocked condensate drain
  • Loose wiring harnesses
  • Malfunctioning burners

Set up a service call or request a quote

Comfortec Heating, Cooling & Plumbing’s team of certified HVAC professionals are ready to help you get your Spirit Lake area home’s furnace in working order for the upcoming change of weather this fall and winter.

You can quickly and easily set up a service call or request a quote online on any work you think may need to be done. Simply fill out the given form on either page and one of our experienced team members will be in touch with you as fast as possible.

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