When the air turns brisk, our minds often turn to keeping our homes cozy during the upcoming fall and winter seasons. Crisp air means that we need to have our heating systems prepared to keep up! It’s important for homeowners to see the transition from summer to fall as a time to check in on their heating systems. As you think ahead to holiday gatherings at your home, you should also be thinking of a scenario where a furnace that hasn’t been properly maintained stops working at the worst possible time.

Don’t risk spoiling special memories by ending up with a chilly home full of guests. There are some things you can begin doing right now to prepare your furnace for winter to ensure that you’ll enjoy the perfect temperatures during everything from lazy nights spent enjoying hot chocolate by the fireplace to big holiday dinners with everyone you love gathered around the table. Take a look!

Do a Little Fall Cleaning Around Your Heater

When was the last time you cleaned your furnace room? Many of us forget about this part of the house during spring cleaning. Including the furnace room as part of your fall cleaning plan is so important because your furnace is about to get a workout. Here’s what should be on your checklist:

  • Clear any clutter from the furnace room.
  • Make sure all objects are a few feet away from the heater. Your furnace needs room to breathe to be safe and efficient.
  • Inspect for any potential fire hazards that could come into contact with your heater.
  • Vacuum the room to get rid of any dust.

Keeping your furnace room as free of clutter as possible is so important. First, clutter near your heater creates a big fire hazard. Second, you want to make sure that your furnace is always accessible because you never know when a technician will need to gain access to your furnace to do emergency repairs. Lastly, your furnace will be more efficient in a clean, airy space because furnaces that can breathe don’t need to work as hard!

Change Your Air Filters

While we should all be changing our air filters every few months, it can be easy to forget this task during the summer because you’re busy enjoying the outdoors, traveling, or focusing on keeping your air conditioner in top shape. If your system uses a permanent filter, make sure you give it a good cleaning before it’s time to turn up the furnace for the season. Staying on top of your filters is important because this will keep debris and particles out of your system. In addition to creating cleaner indoor air, this also helps your system to run more efficiently for better performance and lower bills.

Don’t forget to stock up on extra filters to ensure that you’re able to keep up with a good maintenance schedule. You’ll go through filters much faster in the winter than you will in the summer because you’re not able to open up windows to bring in fresh air. If you’re not sure about the type of air filter needed for your furnace, you can consult your manufacturer’s guide. You can also have a tech come in to offer suggestions about how to use the best filter size to get the highest efficiency level possible from your furnace. Filter performance actually varies based on the indoor environment in your home. While the United States Department of Energy recommends changing filters every three months, you may need to change your filter more frequently if you smoke, have pets, have allergies, or live in an area with poor air quality.

Consider Updating Your Thermostat Before the Chill Arrives

If you’re using an ordinary thermostat, now is the time to consider upgrading to a programmable thermostat. There are many benefits to making this simple change. First, programmable thermostats allow you to create a more comfortable indoor environment because you have better control over temperatures. Next, you can save money by using a programmable thermostat. If you’re away from home for a big chunk of the day, setting your thermostat lower while you’re gone can reduce your energy bill by 10 percent. It’s easier to do this with a programmable thermostat because you don’t have to manually change the temperature setting every time you enter or leave your home. You can even apply a specific temperature during your sleeping hours to ensure that you’re always perfectly comfortable. Many programmable thermostats allow you to control your settings using an app on your phone.

Do a Test Run

If it’s been a long summer, make sure you do a trial run with your furnace before the temperatures dip! You don’t want to find out that your furnace isn’t working properly once you’re already facing cold temperatures. Here are some signs that your furnace isn’t at peak performance:

  • Rattling sounds.
  • Banging sounds.
  • You can’t get “even” temperatures in the different rooms in your home.
  • It’s taking a long time for your home to heat up.
  • While your thermostat says one thing, your indoor air feels cooler than the number on the dial.

It’s always better to get a problem taken care of while your furnace is still functioning. Don’t assume that everything is fine just because your furnace turns on. Allowing a furnace with an underlying problem to continue to run even though something seems “off” can land you in a situation where your furnace dies on a cold day without warning.

What If I Don’t Know How to Handle Furnace Maintenance on My Own?

If you’re feeling overwhelmed by the task of preparing your furnace for the winter, it’s easy to bring in a heating expert to make sure you’re ready for the cold temperatures ahead. In addition to getting your furnace in gear to handle the heavy load of the winter ahead, a technician can also look for signs of any potential safety or performance issues. Here’s a look at what’s often included in a professional inspection:

  • Cleaning of the interior and exterior of your boiler.
  • Filter changes.
  • Checking the blower motor.
  • Checking the ignition switch.
  • Leak assessment.
  • Minor repairs related to leaks.

Getting this checklist taken care of by a pro takes the weight off your shoulders. A professional can also provide suggestions on any updates that can help to make your furnace run more efficiently. If you’re bringing in an expert to take a look at your furnace because you’re concerned that it’s on its way out, a heating expert can also give you insights into your furnace’s current performance, safety level, and efficiency to help you make a decision about upgrading.

Inspect Your Carbon Monoxide Detector

Make sure your home’s carbon monoxide detector is in working order. If necessary, swap out the existing batteries for new batteries. This becomes even more important if your home has a gas-burning or oil-burning furnace because both produce carbon monoxide. While this is an odorless and invisible substance, many gas companies add a sulfur odor to gas to make it possible for you to be alerted when a leak is present. The threat of carbon monoxide is so serious that the CDC recommends having oil and gas furnaces inspected every year.

Let Us Help You Prepare Your Home for the Winter Holidays

At Delaware Heating and Air, we specialize in helping homeowners enjoy reliable, efficient heating all year long. We know that having a helping hand to walk you through furnace maintenance can help you to have peace of mind over things like safety and efficiency. Let us help you make sure your furnace is ready to handle winter before you get too busy with holiday planning to prioritize furnace care. Reach out today to speak with a tech!