Taking care of your home’s heating system is just another part of being a homeowner--but it’s an important one! You’ll be in the best position to care for your heater by knowing some basics about it. We’ve compiled some essential information below to help you keep your heater in the greatest shape possible. Don’t worry--this won’t get overly technical.
1. Yes, frequently changing the air filter is very important!
If your furnace’s air filter gets layered with dust, hair, and other particles, the system will suffer, and so will your wallet. Imagine trying to breathe through a dirty lint-guard while running a marathon, and you’ll have some idea of what a furnace goes through when it’s working with a dust-clogged air filter. Without adequate airflow through your heating system, it’s easy for the components to overheat and break down.
2. Not all heaters generate heat the same way.
It’s important to know if your heater uses gas, oil, or electricity to warm up your indoor air. This will give you insight into what kind of repair and maintenance your unit requires and how much the system will cost to operate and replace. For example, electric furnaces are cheaper to purchase and install, but they can cost you more to use because of electricity prices.
3. Maintaining your heater helps it run more efficiently but also more safely.
Without routine maintenance, furnace components accumulate dust, lose lubrication, loosen, and become more prone to overheating. This puts unnecessary strain on the system, decreasing its efficiency and giving it premature wear-and-tear. Preventative maintenance is the most effective way to avoid these issues and keep your system running efficiently for as long as possible.
Additionally, there are two safety aspects all homeowners should know. Overheating and lack of airflow and can cause the heat exchanger in gas- and oil-burning furnaces to crack, which can expose your household to carbon monoxide. Gas furnaces can also develop leaks in their gas line, leading to a buildup of flammable gas inside your home. While servicing your heating equipment, a technician will check for gas leaks and problems with the heat exchanger to prevent any unfortunate disasters that might otherwise occur.
4. If your heater makes a screeching, scraping, or booming sound, don’t wait to call a technician.
If your heater starts making any sound that’s out of the ordinary, it’s probably overdue for maintenance or needs a repair. Screeching usually indicates that something is wrong with the motor bearing or belt. A metallic scraping or scratching typically means that there’s a problem with the blower wheel.
A boom is particularly concerning because that means your gas furnace has an ignition delay. Something is keeping the gas from igniting right away, so instead, it’s building up, which can be very dangerous. When the gas is finally igniting, it’s creating a small explosion in your system, and that can lead to some significant problems. Don’t wait to contact an HVAC repair company to diagnose what’s causing the ignition issue. It could be something as simple as a dirty burner, but better safe than sorry.
5. If your furnace smells strange, again, please don’t wait to call a technician.
You should not be able to smell your furnace while it operates--with one exception. When you first turn it on after not using it for a long time, you might smell the dust that it has collected burning off as the equipment heats up. This is normal. If you detect any kind of foul or burning odor at any other time, it’s crucial to get it checked out and diagnosed by a professional.