Tips to Get Your Furnace Ready for Winter

When it’s cold enough to fire up the furnace, it’s a bad time to realize it’s not working. Before the first cold day arrives, there are a few things you should consider.

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Furnace maintenance

When it’s cold enough to fire up the furnace is a bad time to realize it’s not working. Before the first cold day arrives, there are a few things you should consider.

“This is especially important for an older system,” says John Ferrua, director for HVAC service and repair for Sears Home Services. “The stress of the season is when you see the failure of older equipment. Most people just don’t want to be in that situation.”

Follow these six tips to help make sure your furnace is ready for winter.

1. Tune up before you turn on.

“”ou should have a checkup done by a professional every year prior to turning on the system for heating season,” Ferrua says. Sears performs a 12-point inspection to make sure your HVAC system is functioning to manufacturer’s specifications. “We make sure the electrical wiring is good, or, if it’s a gas system, we’ll check valves for leaks, and adjust and clean the pilot burner. We check and lubricate the blower motor, which blows the hot air into your home, vacuum it out and test that the furnace is at peak operating efficiency,” Ferrua says. You can also set up a regularly scheduled yearly checkup through Sears.

2. Change your air filters.

Homeowners should do this every 30 days or once a quarter, depending on their situation. “If you’ve got allergens or pet hair and dander in the home, you should replace your filter more often,” Ferrua says. A dirty filter can damage the furnace components and restrict airflow. “And that’s when you can have problems with your system,” Ferrua says. Sears makes it easy to change the filter through its PartsDirect subscription program, which will send filters to your home on a regular basis.

3. Check your thermostat.

Turn it on to test it. Odds are “if it’s been working during your AC season, it’s going to easily switch over to heat,” Ferrua says. If the heat doesn’t engage, you might need to replace the thermostat itself.

If that doesn’t do the trick, it could be a power issue. “And if it’s not a breaker switch or a fuse issue — something you might be able to fix yourself — it’s time to call a pro to check the system,” he adds.

4. Clean your air ducts.

If your air filters get dirty quickly, if someone in your home has a compromised immune system or if you’ve recently finished a large remodeling project, you might want to have your ducts cleaned. Otherwise, once you turn on the heating system, dust or debris in the ducts will blow around.

“Everyone’s at a different end of the health spectrum,” Ferrua says. How often you clean your ducts really depends on the homeowner, and it’s not something you have to do often, he says.

5. If the furnace is more than 20 years old, it might be time to buy a new one.

Age is just one factor among many when it comes to the decision to buy a new furnace, Ferrua says, including how many repairs it has already needed and their cost, how much future repairs might cost and how long you plan to remain in your home.

6. Look at adding an additional warranty or maintenance program for your unit.

If your furnace is getting up there in age, having an additional warranty is a good option, Ferrua says. “Under the Sears Master Protection Agreement, you’ll be covered for any future repairs,” he says. “And if you keep up with your maintenance agreement and your furnace can’t be repaired, Sears will replace it for you.” Sears has other warranty options available as well to best fit your needs and situation.

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