Before Your Crank Up the Heat, Take These Steps First

The winters are cold here in Chicago. It won’t be long until the nip in the air turns downright frosty and has you reaching for the thermostat.

Before you fire up the furnace, you’ll want to take some preventative measures to avoid a potential breakdown. This is because a lot can happen in between the time your heating system was last used in the spring and the beginning of a new winter.

Furnace repair companies usually receive the highest volume of phone calls during the first cold spell of the year, resulting in long waits for service.

This article will provide you with a checklist to follow before you crank up the heat. Following the list will ensure your furnace is running efficiently, which will save money and lower the chances of your furnace breaking down.

Furnace Preparation Steps

Clean Your Furnace:

Dirt, grime, and other residues can collect in your furnace, even when it’s not in use. To help your furnace run at its best, as well as keep the interior of your home free from air pollutants, clean it before you fire it up. Use a brush attachment and vacuum to remove any debris.

Inspect Your Furnace:

Cracks in the blower belt, loose ductwork, or air escaping openings can cause your furnace to work harder than it needs to, which reduces its life while also potentially increasing your energy bills. If you’re familiar with the inner workings of your furnace, conduct a thorough inspection to make sure everything is in proper working order. If this is foreign territory, hire a trusted and skilled professional to service your furnace instead.

Free Your Furnace:

Your furnace can only work at its best if airflow to the unit is not obstructed. Clear away any objects that might stand in the way of accessible areas, including boxes, rags, or laundry baskets. Remove flammable items, such as cleaning products, into another area to avoid fire and other property destruction.

Flush Your Furnace:

Drain lines running from the furnace allowing water to escape the unit can become gunked up with residue, which can lead to a clog. Using a bleach and water solution, flush the drain hose to keep it free and clear.

Test Your Furnace:

You don’t want to be without heat when you need it most. Instead of waiting for freezing temps, test your furnace while the weather is still decent to allow yourself enough repair time should a problem present itself. While testing, make sure your furnace turns on and off without complication. Check registers and vents for adequate airflow, making sure the rooms farthest from the furnace are as warm as those closest to it. Listen for sounds in the furnace that could be due to a broken or worn part or loose ductwork. If something doesn’t seem right, bring in a professional to check it out.

Check the Pilot Light:

This step only applies to people with gas furnaces. If you have a gas furnace, there should be a pilot light somewhere inside your unit. Before turning on the gas, make sure the pilot light is lit. If the gas is on before the pilot, the room will fill up with gas, and lighting the pilot at this point is extremely dangerous. If your pilot light is off and your gas is on, make sure the room is well-ventilated and wait at least a few hours before turning on the pilot.

Change the Furnace Filter:

Naturally over time, the air filter to your furnace is going to get dirty. As debris accumulates in your filter, it won’t work as effectively. A clean filter will ensure your heating unit works optimally. Air filters are sold at local hardware stores and with the help of a YouTube video, you should be able to change it yourself.

Cover the AC Condenser:

The purpose of this last step isn’t to protect your furnace, but to protect your AC condenser. During the winter, condensers are susceptible to damage from falling icicles. You’ll want to find something to cover it with such as a padded tarp or large trash can lid.

Help Your Furnace:

Your furnace can only do so much work to provide the heat; it needs a helping hand from your home to keep the interior comfy and cozy. That means replacing old windows that allow cold air in, or at the very least sealing off air leaks around windows, doors, ducts, and fireplaces. Also, consider upgrading the insulation in your home to avoid letting heat escape through your roof, which can lead to other winter disasters, such as ice damming.

The life expectancy for most furnaces ranges between 15 and 20 years. Given the costly $3K to $6K investment, it’s in your best interest to get as many years out of your system as you can. Make regular maintenance a priority when it comes to heating your home effectively. Do the work yourself or bring in a licensed, qualified heating technician at least once a year to provide a checkup and basic tune-up.

Schedule a Tune-Up McMahon Services and Construction

If you’re experiencing unusually high energy bills, funny smells, or clunking sounds coming from the vents, these are all common complaints caused by HVAC systems and it might be time for a tune-up or inspection. McMahon services has a team of professionals that can inspect, clean, and protect your furnace today.

As the winter approaches residents in Libertyville, Oak Park, Palatine, and surrounding IL areas naturally spend more time indoors. The added time inside raises the importance of maintaining overall air quality.

Heating, Ventilation, and Air Conditioning systems, or better known as HVAC systems, have been known to improve your overall indoor air quality due to removing the contaminants such as mold, fungi, bacteria, and other small particles of dust that circulate in your home or business. Removing these contaminants provides cleaner air for you and your family.

If you’re looking for more information on tune-ups or other HVAC services, give us a call today.

Contact McMahon Services & Construction for your Air Duct Cleaning Services, HVAC Cleaning Services, New Construction, Remodeling, and Renovation projects today. We offer FREE estimates in our Chicago, Arlington Heights, Berwyn, Des Plaines, Evanston, Mount Prospect, Grayslake, Mundelein, Libertyville, Oak Park, Palatine, Wheaton, Naperville, Waukegan, Schaumburg, Skokie, and surrounding IL service areas.