Winter Furnace Maintenance: Preparing for the Cold

A high-efficiency furnace in a narrow basement surrounded by white walls.Our comfort heavily relies on our home’s furnace, especially in the winter. Its essential function is to keep us warm and provide us with hot water, which is more than just a luxury when confronted with freezing temperatures. If your furnace is underperforming, how do you know whether it’s nearing the end of its life or if it simply needs some TLC? Let’s take a look at some tips for winter furnace maintenance to ensure it’s up for the task this season.

Winter Furnace Maintenance Checklist

Your furnace is no doubt already working hard to keep your house warm, but it’s not too late to ensure your furnace will run smoothly throughout the remainder of the season. To do so, be sure to check the following:

  • Air Filter: The air filter keeps particles from damaging your furnace. Checking your furnace’s air filter monthly and replacing it when needed can prolong the life of your heating system. A clogged filter can prevent your furnace from effectively doing its job.
  • Ducts and Vents: Ensure your ducts are securely fastened together and your vents are clear of debris and dust, as this can cause your furnace to work overtime. If your furnace pulls in air from outside using a combustion air duct, make sure the passageway is clear of plants and snow.
  • Thermostat Wires: Shut off the power and check the thermostat wires behind your furnace’s door. Slightly pull on them to ensure they are tight and well connected, as an inaccurate or unresponsive thermostat may cause the furnace to run continuously.

It’s always a good idea to give it a visual inspection as well. Making sure none of the wiring, tubes, or pipes are cracked or frayed can see you from costly and dangerous furnace fires and basement flooding.

Schedule Professional Furnace Services

Without a mechanical background, it can be difficult to perform the proper maintenance on your furnace yourself. A professional furnace maintenance technician can perform a thorough inspection of your appliance and repair less obvious problems like loose wiring harnesses, misfiring burners, or a blocked condensation drain. They will also perform routine maintenance such as clearing the drainage tube, cleaning the flame sensor, replacing a worn tension belt, and more. Yet, sometimes maintenance isn’t enough to help you get through the winter.

Signs You Need a New Furnace

Lack of maintenance sometimes isn’t the culprit for a poorly performing furnace. If your furnace is 15 to 20 years old, it could be experiencing its final days. Here are some signs you might need a new furnace:

  • Frequent Disruptions: If your furnace continuously breaks, leading to frequent service calls, it might need to be replaced entirely.
  • Energy Spike: If your energy bill has been gradually increasing with no notable jumps in temperature, your furnace may be to blame.
  • Inconsistent Heating: If one of your rooms is warm while another is cold or it’s taking longer than usual to heat your home, it could be a sign of an aging furnace.

Your technician may also notice cracks or other problems associated with an aging system that may require replacement. Unfortunately, while your homeowners insurance would cover your furnace if it was damaged due to a covered peril like inclement weather or fire, you’ll be required to fund the purchase of a new furnace due to normal wear and tear.

Since the cold weather will require your system to work harder, proper winter furnace maintenance will help increase the system’s heating capacity and boost its longevity. While maintenance can prolong its life, you also want to protect your furnace from damage from outside influences. That’s why it’s important to invest in the right homeowners insurance. At TJ Woods Insurance, our agents will pair you with a homeowners policy suited to your needs. If you need coverage for your heating system and the rest of your property, contact us today.