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How to maintain your furnace year round

How to maintain your furnace year round

Canadians have four common types of furnaces – natural gas, oil, electric, or propane. No matter what type of furnace you have, you need to stay on top of routine maintenance.

According to Enercare, “After the furnace installation, a licensed technician should perform quality and cleaning checks on all major components every 1-2 years to ensure that the unit performs up to the manufacturer’s standards.”

Make sure to understand how your furnace works and follow the manufacturer's maintenance instructions. While it is important to have a professional inspect your furnace regularly, there are a few things you can do yourself.

Replace the filter

Replacing the filter on your furnace is one of the easiest and most important things you can do to maintain your furnace. Yet, according to one Statistics Canada survey, only about 42% of Canadian households changed or cleaned their furnace filter at least every 3 months and about 33% changed their filter less than once a year or did not remember the last time they did it.

The furnace filter removes particles from the air before it enters the furnace and keeps the air in your home clean and your furnace functioning efficiently. Inexpensive furnace filters remove most particles that circulate in the air in your home. More expensive filters improve the air quality and are beneficial to people with allergies or asthma. Your filter should be replaced every 1-3 months and the more expensive types can last longer. Replacing the filter is easy, just remove the old one and put in a new one.

Make sure vents are not blocked

Heating vents around your home should not be blocked by furniture or other objects, so that air can flow freely. Blocked vents make your furnace work less efficiently and can decrease its lifespan. Check the floor registers for debris like pet hair and dirt and vacuum them. Have the air ducts cleaned every two or three years.

Keep the exhaust vent clear

The exhaust flue that leads from your furnace to the outdoors needs to be clear at all times. This is especially important for gas furnaces because the fumes include carbon monoxide, sulfur dioxide, and nitrogen dioxide. A blocked vent will cause these gasses to enter your home, which can have serious health consequences. If you suspect your exhaust vent might not be working properly, have your furnace inspected immediately.

Do not place flammable objects near the furnace

Since your furnace is probably tucked away in the basement or an out-of-the-way utility room, it may be tempting to use that area for storage. Never place any flammable objects like clothes, paint, boxes, chemicals, and other household items near the furnace or water heater.

Refill the fuel tank if you have an oil or propane furnace

Oil and propane furnaces need to have their fuel tanks refilled regularly. Oil furnaces also need additional maintenance because of oil buildup and soot and the chimneys and oil filters need to be maintained.