Don’t Let Lapsed Furnace Maintenance Leave You Out in the Cold


Next week, temperatures in northern Wisconsin and Upper Peninsula Michigan are forecasted to drop below zero. Brr! To ensure your furnace works optimally when you need it most, follow these essential furnace maintenance tips.

Be proactive. Don’t wait for a noticeable lack of heat before performing maintenance tasks yourself or calling your furnace technician.

Perform a quick visual inspection of your furnace. The venting pipe of gas furnaces should be securely fastened and angled. Other tubes should be fastened securely, too.

Do a smell test. Sniff around your system’s gas line (a flexible tube). If you smell rotten eggs, your furnace has a gas leak.

Change your furnace filter regularly. Dirty filters can restrict your system’s airflow, causing your system to overheat; clog the ductwork with debris, reducing the furnace’s lifespan; force the furnace’s fan motor to overwork and use more energy, raising your utility bills; and lower the air quality in your home, exacerbating allergies, respiratory illnesses, and other health conditions. Furnace filters should be replaced at least every three months unless otherwise indicated by the manufacturer’s instructions. Change your furnace filter more often if your household contains smokers or pets.

Make sure the drainage tube is clear. The small amount of water produced in natural gas and propane furnaces that isn’t expelled as exhaust steam drains from the power exhaust manifold to a drip pan via a drainage tube. Sometimes the tube gets clogged by buildup, and then water fills the manifold and the flame sensor shuts down the system. Unclog the drainage tube by detaching it from the manifold and blowing compressed air through it or by pouring white vinegar through the tube and the pipe.

Check the thermostat wires. After shutting off the power and removing the furnace doors, lightly tug on the furnace wires to make sure they are secure.

Remove dust and debris. When components are coated with dust and debris, the furnace works inefficiently or even stops working altogether. In order to remove dirt and debris without damaging your furnace, use a soft paintbrush to gently dust the interior components. Then vacuum up the loosened dust.

Clean the flame sensor annually. The flame sensor is a bent metal rod that detects if a flame is present. If the flame sensor of a gas furnace is dirty, the furnace will stop working. Once a year, after unscrewing the sensor from the furnace, clean it with an emery cloth.

Oil the furnace motor. Just a couple of drops of oil should be added every season. Do not over-oil the motor.

Clean the vents. Blockages caused by debris could cause carbon monoxide poisoning, so it’s crucial that blocked vents are checked and cleared.

Contact a professional furnace maintenance technician. While plenty of DIY guides are available for a variety of furnace maintenance tasks, if you feel uncomfortable performing a task, do not hesitate to call a professional, such as Quality Heating, located in Minocqua. Quality Heating services all brands, makes, and models. They also offer same-day service and 24-hour emergency service to ensure that have heat restored as quickly as possible if you should encounter problems with your HVAC system this winter.

Test your carbon monoxide detector. Making sure your carbon monoxide detector is working during this time of year, when there is a greater risk of carbon monoxide being present in the home, can be a lifesaver—literally.

Have your chimney inspected, too. Periodically hire a professional to make sure your chimney is clear of debris and small animals.

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