Inspecting your furnace at the beginning of the fall/winter season is extremely important for not only the function of your furnace, but also the safety of your home.  Normal wear and tear happens even when the furnace isn’t being used, so during those off months, there could be damage or age that occurred to the furnace that can result in dangerous situations.  Hiring a professional to do this inspection for you is the best option, but to make sure you are hiring the right guy, make sure they check the following parts and functions.

First off, and you can do this part, check the batteries in your thermostat.  It may not be communicating with the furnace as well as it should because it’s lacking juice.  So be sure to replace those (side note: make sure to check your carbon monoxide/smoke detector batteries as well, might just save your life, especially if you haven’t checked your heat exchanger, which I’ll explain later).

A proper maintenance technician will check the function of the furnace first before taking it apart to be cleaned and inspected.  Then they’ll shut off the whole system and start their process.

Removing the blower assembly, disassembling it, cleaning it up, vacuuming components to remove debris, and oiling all moving parts will make sure the blower will work to the best of it’s ability.  Once all these steps are covered, the maintenance will reassemble the blower assembly.

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Next step, remove and replace filter.  This should be done more than once a year, but while the technician is there, they should replace it.  If you’ve just recently replaced it, mention that to the technician so they don’t go ahead and replace it because some places will charge extra for a filter, depending on the type, size, etc.  Ask your technician about a scented filter.  I don’t know about you, but the smell of fresh cinnamon really puts your home into the fall season, and scented filters can do that for you!  They come in a variety of scents, so ask to see what they have.

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Clean up burners and heat exchangers, then inspect them.  This is really important because if there is corrosion or cracking, that could be really harmful to your home.  Below is a close up of a heat exchanger.  That crack makes your home vulnerable to carbon monoxide poisoning.  This is one of the main reasons why having your furnace inspected before the season is so important.cracked_heat_exchanger

Inspect PVC flue for any alarming conditions.  Clogging, blockages, debris build-up, anything that could affect the functionality of your furnace.  (Those blockages can be caused by a multitude of things, we had a technician pull a dead rat out just last week, EWW!)  A technician should also flush the condensate, secure wire connections and check for gas leaks.

They can also make sure your pilot light is lit, check that the ignition process is correct and working properly.  The blower access door needs to be checked for proper function and for a tight seal.  All of these steps should be followed to ensure that the furnace is not only functioning properly, but also that it won’t cause any harm to your home or those inside it.

Something to keep in mind, since you are now making the shift from A/C to heater, consider purchasing an A/C cover.  Your A/C is probably about to go about 6 months without being used, and to make sure it’s working well when you need it again, you should protect it during the fall and winter months.  Putting a jacket on it can protect it from fall leaves, dirt, bird poop, bush debris, etc.  This way when you need it next spring, it’ll be ready for use.

I hope we were able to explain some important things to keep in mind.  Good luck this winter, stay warm!