How to Care for Your Home’s Heating System
The time to think about taking care of your home’s heating system is before the temperatures dip into freezing and you’re eyeing the thermostat in your house.
Not only can a few easy steps help maintain your whole-house heating system, but it may also prolong the life of your furnace, saving you money in the long run. And since heating your home typically makes up 42% of your utility bill, it’s a good idea to start thinking about how to take care of your heat-generating investment.
Yes, factors such as home size and gas rates can affect your utility bill, but so can the efficiency and care of your furnace.
These easy tips can help maintain the health and life of your furnace.
1. Change the Filter Regularly
Most home furnace issues can be sourced back to a dirty filter. When you leave a dirty air filter in place, airflow is restricted, which leads to reduced energy efficiency, unnecessary wear and tear on your furnace and potential for overheating. Energy Star recommends checking your air filter every month, especially during months of heavy usage. At a minimum, you should be changing out your air filter every three months, to prevent dust and dirt from building up in the system. If you live with pets or in a house with a smoker, you may need to change the filter more often.
2. Clean Your Ducts
Studies show that the average six-room home in the United States collects up to 40 pounds of dust each year. Where this dust is coming from is entirely different questions that even scientists have been trying to answer. What we do know is that this dust is settling in your home’s air ducts, and is forming a thick layer on the inner walls. This dust not only is then circulated throughout the home, triggering allergies, but it can also damage your heating system.
The National Air Duct Cleaners Association recommends cleaning your air ducts every three to five years, however where you live may have an impact on how frequently you clean your air ducts.
3. Check Your Blower Motor
The blower motor is critical to pushing the warmed air through the heat exchanger, which is then distributed through the rest of the home. It’s important to ensure your house reaches the correct temperature. If your blower motor is running constantly but your house isn’t heating up, you may have a problem. If you don’t properly maintain the blower motor, it can break down. A trained technician can help you determine whether the issue is with the blower motor.
4. Ensure all Vents are Clear
For your heating system to work as efficiently as possible, the heated air must be able to circulate completely in the system, and throughout the house. This means making sure all your vents are working properly and the air is flowing freely. Inspect your vents, remove any furniture, boxes or household items that may be blocking the flow of air. Allowing the system to work as intended means it’s working more efficiently and not as hard to heat your home.
5. Check Your Thermostat
Making sure your thermostat is in proper working order is an important step to caring for your home’s heating system. Before the cold season starts, turn up the thermostat and listen for the furnace to turn on, and continue running. If the furnace turns on, and then off after a short time, you may need to have your thermostat adjusted (either recalibrated or replaced) or your heat exchanger is malfunctioning. You will need to call a professional to inspect the unit.
6. Tune-up Your Furnace Annually
One of the most important things you can do for your home heating system is to get it professionally inspected and tuned up once a year. It’s a great way to extend its lifespan and prevent future breakdowns. Most companies, like Santa Energy, offer heating system tune-ups. This means they will send a professional heating technician to your house to inspect, clean, and fine-tune the different components of your furnace.
While many of these things can be done on your own, if you don’t feel comfortable handling these tips, you should consider hiring a technician. A professional heating technician can address:
- Loose ductwork
- Lubricating a blower motor
- Loose blower belt
- Firing burners not working properly
Ensuring your home’s furnace is running properly and efficiently is critical to a well-heated home to make sure you’re not spending more than you need to, in order to heat your home in the winter.