Winterization Part 1: 11 Handy Furnace Tune-up Tips

fall backTomorrow is the last day of Daylight Saving Time before we “fall back,” to Standard Time. Remember to set you clocks back one hour before going to bed Saturday night. The two annual clock changes have long been considered the perfect times to test smoke detectors. They're also perfect times to take a day to prepare your home for the coming season. Both time changes occur on a weekend, usually in weather conditions satisfactory for outdoor work. In this two-part article, we'll lay out a plan to make your home cozy and ready for winter—and maybe save some money. Part One will focus on heating.

Getting the Best From Your Furnace

Checking your furnace can reduce your heating bill and save you from waiting in a frigid house for a repair call. A handy homeowner can handle furnace maintenance, but it's an area where a professional is well worth the money and mistakes can be expensive. If you have any doubt about your ability, call in an HVAC professional. You'll only spend about $100 and be sure it's done right. Also, keep in mind that your furnace needs a more involved tune-up every few years. This involves removing the burner assembly and other tasks best left to the pros. Check with the manufacturer or your heating contractor to see how often your model needs it. Here are some steps for a DIY annual furnace tune-up:
  • Examine the outside of the furnace. There shouldn't be any soot, discoloration or other signs of combustion. Make sure there aren't any flammable items stored anywhere near the unit and that the area around it is clear.
  • Turn your thermostat up far enough for the furnace to turn on and take a look at the flames. They should be steady and blue in color; if they're sputtering and/or yellow or orange you'll need a technician to deal with the combustion problem. Also, when the blower fan comes on listen carefully for any unusual noises that may indicate uneven wear or other problems.
  • Turn the thermostat back down and, while the furnace is cooling, turn the power off at the circuit breaker or look for the power cutoff switch (which will have a red switch plate) on or near the furnace housing. Using a vacuum cleaner, suck all dust and debris out of the unit, being sure to remove the side panels and any other access panels. You may need to use a damp cloth to clean the fan blades.
  • If a belt drives your fan, look it over. If it's cracked or damaged, replace it. Also check the  tension; there should be about half an inch of play when you press on it. You can adjust it by loosening the motor mount bolts and moving it slightly.
  • Close up the furnace and check the filter. If you use disposable pleated fiberglass filters, make sure you have several of the correct size in stock and change them each month. Permanent filters should be cleaned once a month. Regular filter changes reduce costs (because the furnace runs efficiently) and keep mold spores and dust from circulating.
  • If you have a home humidifier (on the side of the furnace above the blower) check it for leaks, make sure water flows through it when the blower is running and clean the evaporator pad.
  • Before you leave the basement, check any smoke/carbon monoxide alarms in the area and replace their batteries if necessary.

More Ways To Keep Cozy

  • Check all the vents throughout the interior of your home. Make sure there's plenty of space around them for air to flow and take the opportunity to vacuum dust out of them.
  • If you use fireplaces or woodburning stoves, don't forget to have your chimneys cleaned and inspected by a professional sweep.
  • If you have steam radiators, open the bleed valves to release any air that has entered the system.
  • Switch your ceiling fans so that they turn clockwise. This will drive warm air from the top of the room to the bottom, increasing your comfort level—and that may translate into turning the thermostat down a bit, saving you money. Look for a switch on the side of the motor housing.
In Part Two, we'll deal with the rest of your home and yard. LDR Cleaning and Restoration is one of the premier restoration companies in Rockford, Illinois and Southern Wisconsin. LDR provides restoration services from water damage, mold removal, fire damage restoration, storm and hail damage repair for commercial and residential properties. Capable of handling any size loss and working with all types of insurance providers, the LDR disaster team is available 24 hours a day, 365 days per year. Click here to contact LDR, or call 1-888-874-7066. Download your free home disaster planning eBook  


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