Preparing your furnace for winter

Posted at 7:41 AM, Oct 18, 2017
and last updated 2017-10-18 12:13:42-04

KANSAS CITY, Mo. – It’s that time of year when air conditioners are turned off and furnaces come on. But before that cold weather hits, you want to make sure everything is running smoothly.  

Jason Gibson, a field Supervisor for A.B. May here in Kansas City, said checkups are very important.

“You can catch issues like carbon monoxide leaks from your furnace or repairs before they turn into major expensive repairs," said Gibson.

A.B. May said their checkups usually last about an hour and a half. They inspect both heating and cooling equipment to get a complete list of what’s going on with the system.

There are also some things you can do yourself:

  • Inspect the air filter
  • Keep the area around the furnace clean
  • Do visual checks on the equipment
  • Check for leaks

Inspecting The Air Filter

When it comes to inspecting your air filter, make sure you know what kind you have.

“There's a wide variety of filters, anything from your basic 30-day filter to a 90-day filter. There's a wide filter that can last up to a year. They also sell washable filters,” Gibson said.

Most home filters are made up of a white fabric or see-through fiber glass.

“So if it looks dirty, it probably is,” Gibson said. “If you're unsure, you can always hold it up to a light source and judge by the light that's coming through it.”

If you get a nice clean light coming through, it’s clean. If it looks cloudy and dark, dirt is most likely blocking that light.

Gibson said if you have a washable filter, it only works when it’s clean. So make sure you remove it several times every year and clean it out.

Keeping the Area Around the Furnace Clean

Dusting the area around your furnace clean can help avoid a lot of issues. A.B. May also recommends vacuuming regularly.

“Dust buildup can cause flame signal problems, some dust can get into the motors causing the bearings to get noisy, Gibson said. “Dust buildup on a fan blade can make the whole system go out of balance or cause poor air flow.”

Visual checks on the equipment

Gibson also recommended a check-up on your furnace when you first turn it on. He said many issues are just from the furnace being idle all spring and summer.

“Strange noises that begin happening with your furnace are definitely a signal that something may be going wrong," Gibson said. “Sudden rust, water pooling around the furnace or humidifiers or excessive vibrations are also indicators that you might need a checkup.”

You can also make sure the space around your furnace is clear.

“Your furnace is a source of heat generation, so anything next to your metal pipe is not what we want. You do want airflow, so you can pull air into your furnace.”

Checking for leaks

A.B. May recommends installing a carbon monoxide detector.

“Carbon monoxide is an odorless, colorless gas, so when it’s in your house, you won't know unless you have a detector to tell you you have a problem,” Gibson said.

Most of the issues A.B May encounters with furnaces have to do with the lack of proper care.

“Maintenance is key to keeping your system up and running well,” Gibson said.

If it has to do with the outside maintenance of your furnace, you should be able to do it. Gibson said they recommend a But anything that's going to be inside the system, A.B. May recommends you call a service professional.