Getting your heating system ready for the fall

Gas furnace and humidifier

With the upcoming heating season fast-approaching, now would be a good time to think about getting your furnace ready before that first cold day hits.

Spending about only 10 minutes of your time to check out your furnace now before it’s actually needed, could spare you some time and grief.

Here’s a quick checklist of things to do. We’ll also go over these items in more detail.

1. Visually inspect your furnace
2. Turn up your thermostat
3. Make sure the furnace “fires up”
4. Check and clean your air filter
5. Get the humidifier ready
6. Run everything through a cycle
7. Reset the thermostat

Before you start, go downstairs and take a look at your furnace. Is it clear of obstructions that may prevent it from getting the proper air that it requires? Move away any furniture, boxes, etc., especially paint cans and anything flammable. Make sure nothing is on top of the furnace. Make sure that there is at least 24″ of clearance in front of your furnace. Check to see that nothing has been stored near your furnace in such a way that anything is leaning against any vent or exhaust pipes.

Check the air filter. Either clean or replace it right now if needed, that way you will be starting off the heating season with one less worry. Dirty air filters can restrict your airflow to the point where no heat is able to blow through your ducts at all. All homes are unique in their own way, but some people need to replace their filter monthly and some require this every quarter. You’ll be able to determine the frequency of the required filter changes for your own furnace quickly enough. If in doubt, check it monthly.

Make sure your thermostat is set to the Heat position, and if you have a Fan switch, set this to Auto. Then turn the temperature up several degrees and go back down to the furnace. By the time you get there the burners should already be on. If nothing has happened yet then check to make sure the furnace switch is on. All newer furnaces have a safety-interrupt switch that will kill the power to the furnace if the doors are not on properly. Double-check this if needed.

After the heat has been on for a few minutes, the furnace fan should come on as well. If you’ve got to this point then everything seems to be working so far.

Next, check your humidifier. Be sure that the damper in the bypass tube is set to the open or winter position if it is marked. Turn the humidistat up all the way and make sure the humidifier comes on. Water will start flowing through it, or if you have a drum-type humidifier, the pad should start to turn immediately. Make sure that water is flowing through it and down the drain pipe, or that the water pan fills and then shuts off at the required level. If you have a drum-type humidifier then make sure to wait until the float valve shuts off the water completely. Check our previous post about humidifiers if you are having any problems with your’s.

By this time your furnace should have been running for a few minutes. The burners should still be firing and the furnace fan should be on. You will notice the smell of dust burning, and that is a normal occurance for the first time that the furnace comes on. It should only produce that smell the first time, and in rare cases it happens the second time the furnace comes on for the season. If you notice this happening any more than those few times then you should call for service.

Anyway, that’s it, you’re done. Go back and reset the thermostat or check your winter program if your thermostat is programmable.

If you still have any concerns then you can feel free to call us with your questions. We would be glad to help out or give some free advice. We have found that many problems are actually quite simple and can be sorted out over the phone.

Gas furnaces should be cleaned and inspected by a licensed technician yearly, and air duct systems should be cleaned every two to three years.

Please call on us if we may be of service.

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