How to Prep Your Furnace for Winter

The basic functions of your heating system dictate the best approach for pre-season inspections. Heaters have three basic aspects that determine their efficiency: the ventilation system, electrical settings and blower mechanics. All three play key roles in delivering warm air during the cold months. Heating specialists conduct tune-ups and inspections for a nominal fee, but the main culprits of heat loss and inefficiency are often easy to find yourself. Spend some time with your furnace before the winter season, and catch an expensive flaw before it’s too late. Taking the time to prep your furnace helps ensure that you stay warm all season long.

Ventilation System

Furnace

Your heater’s ventilation system consists of the ducts, air registers and filters. Start with the largest component of your heating system: the ducts. The ducts run throughout your home, and they are responsible for delivering the heated air in an efficient manner. Visually inspect the ducts, and look for obvious gaps, deteriorating tape and blockages.

Despite its stellar reputation as a fix-all, duct tape is not the best medium for sealing duct joints. Over time, it becomes brittle under the changing temperature and moisture conditions of an expansive ventilation network. Instead of duct tape, it would be wise to seal the joints with metal-backed duct sealers. Additionally, you can also keep the connections tight with metal screws where needed.

Unheated areas, such as basements and attics, place added demands on your ventilation system. Keep the connections as straight as possible in these areas. Add insulation or insulating blankets in drafty areas. Major joints in these areas need at least three metal screws securing the ducts. Dampers that direct and deflect airflow must move freely. Replace rusty ducts right away, and look for unusual moisture from nearby pipes or drains.

Air filters are inexpensive, yet often forgotten factors in heating and air conditioning systems. Dirty filters are easy to replace. Sophisticated filters with allergen and odor traps restrict the airflow more than basic filters, but keep your furnace and your air free of small duct particles and contaminants. All types of air filters require timely maintenance. Insert the filter with the arrow going toward the furnace. Improperly placed and old, dirty filters make your system work harder and reduce its overall efficiency.
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