Winter has made its way to Washington D.C., which means it’s time to conduct your yearly furnace maintenance, if you haven’t already. Skipping this important chore can leave you in the cold, and the furnace could even fail and fill your home with dangerous carbon monoxide.
Not to worry, though, getting it done is easy and affordable. You can do it yourself for between $30 to $50. Not too handy? You can also have a pro service your furnace for $100 to $150, which can prevent thousands of dollars in repairs. No matter what you choose, we’ve outlined all the steps to inspecting and servicing your furnace.
Do It Yourself Furnace Maintenance
Want to give it a go yourself? First thing’s first, collect the following materials:
Foil tape Air filter Oil filter (for oil systems) Oil nozzle (for oil systems)
You’ll also want to have a screwdriver, wire brush, shop vacuum and strap wrench on hand. If your furnace has stopped working, inspect the unit by following these steps:
It may seem obvious, but be sure to check that your unit’s power switch is in the “on” position, if you have one. Check for tripped circuit breakers and/or blown fuses. If the fuse blows or the circuit breaker trips when the unit turns on, shut it down and call a professional. If there’s a reset button, let the motor cool down for 30 minutes before pressing it. You can repeat this up to three times. Check your thermostat setting. Turn it up by 5 degrees and see if the unit turns on. Check the fuel supply. If you have a gas furnace, be sure the gas valve is open and the pilot light is lit. If you have an oil furnace, check the oil level.
Note, if you have a gas unit and smell gas, get out of the house. Leave the doors open and call the fire department and gas company to report a leak from the safety of the sidewalk.
Do It Yourself Furnace Repair
Before starting work, make sure all power to your unit is off by tripping the circuit breaker or removing the fuse.
Clean the blower. First, inspect and clean or replace your filter. Then, remove the blower to clean the blower fan using a toothbrush. Use a vacuum to clean out any loose debris. Inspect the belt. The motor belt should be firm, loosening no more than a half-inch when pressed. Replace with a new one if necessary. Check vents and chimneys. Go outside and make sure they are clear of nests or other debris. Check ducting for leaks. Look for separation at duct joints and seal with metal tape.
For oil furnaces, you will also need to replace the oil filter and bleed the lines according to your unit’s manufacturer instructions. If you’re unsure about attempting any of the above on your own, don’t hesitate to hire a heating professional. They will check and clean all parts and make necessary repairs.
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