7 DIY Furnace Maintenance Tips That Can Save You Money

It’s no secret that furnace maintenance can save you money. An annual tune-up can improve efficiency and avoid major repairs and early replacement. But it’s not the only way to care for your furnace. Many DIY furnace maintenance steps are effective. We’ll look at simple ways you can maintain your heating system throughout the year and some more advanced tasks to take on if you’re comfortable.

1. Replace the Air Filter

The air filter traps contaminants such as dust and pollen to keep your HVAC system running smoothly. A dirty filter can restrict airflow and strain your furnace. The filter should be replaced every three months or whenever it’s dirty or clogged. When changing it, note the filter’s length, width, and depth (it’s usually printed on the side of the filter) or measure it, as you’ll need to install a filter of the same size. 

The filter slot should be where the return air duct connects to the furnace. This is usually on the side near the bottom. Open the door or panel covering the filter and remove the old one. When inserting the new filter, make sure the arrows on it point toward the furnace.

2. Change the Oil Filter

If you have an oil furnace, the oil filter prevents impurities from blocking the oil burner nozzle. A clogged nozzle can cause a misfire. The system will then shut down. Replacing the oil filter requires closing the oil valve, removing the dirty filter, and disposing of it in compliance with your area’s hazardous waste regulations. Then follow the manufacturer’s instructions for installing a new oil filter.

3. Keep the Exterior Clean

Dirt and dust on your furnace can get inside and make it inefficient. Cleaning outer surfaces is simple. You can use a damp cloth or a vacuum to clean the metal case. Clean the area around the unit too. 

There also shouldn’t be any clutter nearby, which can inhibit airflow or make it hazardous to work around your furnace. Remove boxes, tools, or toys. In addition, vacuum floor registers and then remove them to vacuum out duct connection points as well. This can improve efficiency and indoor air quality.

4. Clean the Air Registers

Air registers throughout your home tend to collect dust, lint, pet hair, and other debris. If a register is clogged, it can restrict airflow, similar to a blocked filter. Therefore, the furnace will work harder to maintain the set temperature, so maintenance isn’t limited to the unit itself or its immediate surroundings. All registers should be removed and cleaned with a high-power vacuum.

5. Check the Flue Pipe

The flue connects the furnace to its exhaust system. Remove any debris blocking it and look for cracks or other signs of damage. Any issues can cause harmful gases to leak into your home, including deadly carbon monoxide. Dirt or debris can be removed from the flue pipe by removing the access panel and using a brush or vacuum with an attachment. Reattach the panel when you’re done.

Inspect the outside of the flue pipe. If there are small holes, they can be patched temporarily with foil tape. But if there are larger areas of damage or corrosion, call a professional to repair or replace the flue.

6. Clean the Furnace Drain Pipes

The condensate lines of a high-efficiency furnace remove excess moisture. If they get clogged, water can back up and cause a leak. The condensate line is usually connected to a floor drain or external outlet near the furnace. To clean it, disconnect the line from both ends and flush out debris using either a gentle stream of water or a vacuum hose. If the line is clogged with mineral deposits, clear it with a mixture of equal parts vinegar and water.

7. Clean the Flame Sensor, Pilot, and Ignitor

Only access the inside of the furnace if you’re comfortable doing so. The inner workings are quite sensitive. They are also prone to getting dirty. With the furnace’s power and gas supply off, remove the access panel and locate the flame sensor near the burner assembly. Remove the sensor gently and clean any debris with a soft cloth or fine-grit sandpaper. Then reinsert the sensor and make sure it’s secure.

Next, remove dust or dirt from the pilot light with a small brush or compressed air. Depending on your furnace model, the pilot assembly may have to be removed for cleaning. Also, clean the ignitor, which is a critical combustion component, and check for cracks or other signs of damage. Check the wiring connections for signs of corrosion or looseness as well.

Contact Trio Heating & Air’s Furnace Maintenance Professionals

Our technicians are experienced in maintaining, installing, and repairing many types of heating systems. You can save money by properly caring for your furnace throughout the year. We also recommend scheduling maintenance in the fall so the unit runs smoothly all winter. Our comprehensive maintenance services help avoid major repairs and breakdowns and extend your furnace’s operating life. To schedule maintenance or other heating services in The Greater San Francisco Bay Area, call (415) 223-5615 today.


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