[fa icon="calendar"] September 03, 2015 / by Home Services Expert
In your home, it might be known as the “honey-do” list. Privately, you might grumble and refer to it as the “honey-I-don't-wanna-do-it” list. Most of us have a “rainy day” list of household tasks that we intend to get around to – just as soon as we can find the time.
You never know when a cold snap will grip Northern California, so get ahead of the game and ensure that your heating system is ready for the colder days ahead. Since Labor Day marks the traditional end of summer and inspires planning for fall and winter, now is as good a time as any to brush off your furnace “can-do” list.
Schedule your annual furnace tune-up
Undeniably, the first and very best step you can take to ensure that your furnace is ready to face down the chill of fall and winter is to schedule your annual furnace tune-up. Your furnace has had a long time (or one year) to accumulate dust, dirt and grime – all impediments that will undermine its efficiency.
Undertake pre-inspection tasks
To prepare your furnace for a comprehensive tune-up, there are a few preliminary maintenance tasks you can perform on your furnace. All you need is your furnace's owner's manual, a flashlight, some basic tools: a drinking straw (yes, we'll explain this), a vacuum with attachments, a small brush, an emery board and machine oil.
If you don't feel confident executing any of these tasks, then by all means: don't attempt them. A heating system service company will take care of them for you during the tune-up.
Either way, take notes so that you can keep track of which tasks you accomplished - all in the interest of ensuring that your furnace is “warmed up” for fall and winter:
- Change the furnace filter (and continue to check it once a month throughout the season).
- Check the color of the burner flames. They should be blue, not yellow, which usually points to a problem with the burners.
- Turn off the power to your furnace. Then use the straw to blow dust away from around the pilot.
- Use the straw again to blow away dust from the surface igniters. Save your gusto for the big, bad wolf in the children's story; a strong gust of air could damage the igniters.
- Vacuum around the burners with an attachment. Then lift the blower door and vacuum the blower compartment.
- Remove the bolts that hold the blower in place. Then carefully lift it out. Clean the blower blades with a small brush; an old, soft toothbrush works perfectly. Vacuum the blower blades with an attachment, being careful not to disturb the wiring and the weights on the blades.
- Remove residue from the sensor just as a lady gently files her nails: with an emery board.
- Check the drive belt for cracks and tears. A worn belt must be replaced.
- Apply lightweight machine oil exactly where your furnace owner's manual instructs. Two to four drops should suffice.
Plug leaks and insulate
Remember that your home doesn't stand a chance of staying warm if it's riddled with air leaks around windows, doors and other openings or if the insulation is deteriorating. All the warm air you're paying for from your furnace will end up going right out the window, literally.
So hold up a lightweight feather or a long-stemmed lighter next to each opening to check for an influx of air before applying caulk or weatherstripping. Admittedly, this can be a time-consuming project even in a small home, but it doesn't have to be an onerous one, especially if you turn it into a family project, with the team that finds the greatest number of leaks winning a prize. (How does a large pepperoni pizza sound as an incentive?)
Between your efforts and those of Experts In Your Home, you'll be able to check off one big, important item from your fall to-do list – and ensure that you and your family stay warm during the cooler days ahead.