Furnace Prep | Shelter Insurance®

Get Your Furnace Geared Up for Winter

Image: Man preparing to work on home furnace

You already know oil changes, tire rotations and other basic maintenance on your car will help you avoid costly and unexpected repairs. The same is true of your furnace. If you are a novice, you may think this is better left to the pros, but if you want to try to do it yourself, here are a few basic things you can do to make sure your furnace will be ready to go:.

  1. Change the furnace filter.  Or clean it, if it’s that kind. It’s easy to do—slide it out, and if it’s dirty, make note of the size and buy a new one. If it’s a permanent filter, clean it with a water hose and let it dry thoroughly before putting it back in the furnace. Some recommend cleaning every month, some recommend every three months. At minimum, check it before the start of each season.
  2. Check the thermostat.  This one is easy too. Simply turn the furnace on and turn the temperature up a couple of degrees warmer than the current temperature in your house. If you hear the furnace click on, that’s a good sign. If warm air comes out of the vents and the house gets warmer, you’re all set. If not, there’s obviously an issue.
  3. Make sure nothing is around the furnace.  Don’t keep clothing, blankets, boxes, or anything else close to the furnace. It could be a potential fire hazard and make it difficult to get to when you need to change the filter or look at it for any other reason.
  4. Check the fan belt for wear.  Your furnace belt is located behind the access panel, so you will have to remove the access panel to find the belt. Some slide off, and some are screwed on. If your furnace is squeaking when it’s blowing warm air out, it’s a good indication that the fan belt needs to be replaced. Even if it’s not making noise, make sure it’s not frayed or cracked, there’s no more than a half inch of slack in it and it’s not twisted. You can adjust the slack by tightening the motor adjusting bolt—but not too tight because that can cause problems too. You can fix a twisted belt by loosening the motor pulley mounting bolts. If you aren’t comfortable with all this, leave it to the pros.
  5. Make sure ducts and vents are clean. – Clean air ducts and vents make your furnace run more efficiently and keeps the air you and your family breathe just a little bit cleaner. Who doesn’t want that?

Don’t wait for the first really cold day of winter to take these steps. The first freeze is the worst time to find out your furnace isn’t working. Taking these steps now can help ensure a warmer winter and might help your furnace last a long time.

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