Preparing Your Heater for Winter: 5 Things You Need to Know

When the leaves start to change color and everything is pumpkin flavored, you know the cold weather is about to set in. And while we all love cozy sweaters and hot cider, no one loves a cold house. To get a jump on your heater maintenance make sure you’re ready for the chilly months ahead, here are five things your HVAC professional wants you to know:

Switch Out the Air Filters

This is a simple step that often gets overlooked, but it can make a big difference in the efficiency of your heating system. Since your air filter is well, filtering the air that gets blown throughout your home, the filter collects dirt and dust.

When these particles get too thick, they can block or slow the flow of air, making your heater work harder (and potentially leading to bigger problems down the road). That means you have to crank your heat—and pay more money—for the same temperature. It’s recommended that you check and change your filter every 1-3 months.

Check Your Vents

Take a quick tour around your home and peek inside each of your vents. Make sure they’re clean and not covered by any furniture. This is especially important in rooms you don’t use as often, like guest bedrooms or the attic. Blocked or closed vents can cause your heating system to work harder and could increase the risk of carbon monoxide buildup.

Vacuum the Inside of the Furnace

You can use a shop vacuum or an attachment on a regular vacuum to get the dirt and debris around the base of the heater and burners. If you have an oil heater, do not use a regular vacuum. Take a trip to the hardware store for a soot vacuum cleaner, or give an HVAC professional a call.

Replace Your Blower Belt

This doesn’t apply to all furnaces so make sure to check your user’s manual first! But blower belts can occasionally become loose or worn, leading them to break and leaving you with no heat. Follow these tips for replacing the blower belt:

  1. Turn off the circuit breaker to the furnace and locate the blower belt. It will be around the base of the furnace and may be covered in dirt or dust.
  2. Carefully remove the old belt and discard it.
  3. Place the new belt around the base of the furnace in the same position as the old one—first over the blower pulley and then around the motor pulley.
  4. Tighten the belt by turning the tensioner bolt clockwise. Do not over-tighten or you may damage the belt. The belt should deflect by about 1/2 inch when you press down on it.
  5. Test the furnace to ensure that it is working properly.

It’s also a good idea to add a few drops of oil to the blower motor, as this can help with its efficiency as well.

Ensure Blower Doors Are Working Properly

The blower door is the panel on the front of your furnace that provides access to the air filter and blower assembly. It’s important to make sure this door closes tightly, as drafty doors can lead to lost heat and increased energy bills. In extreme cases, broken blower doors can let carbon monoxide and other combustible materials circulate through your heating.

Check the gasket around the door for wear or damage. If something looks worn down, it’s best to call an HVAC professional.

Stay warm and save some money this winter by keeping these heater maintenance tips in mind! And don’t forget to schedule a yearly inspection for your heating system for even more peace of mind. You may need to replace some of your systems.

Get Prepared with Bell Cow Service’s HVAC Professionals

Whether there’s damage beyond your DIY skills or you’d just like an HVAC professional to take care of the job for you, Bell Cow Services can be there within hours. We’re all about home improvement and we’re honest in our pricing and service.

With over 50 years of experience and comprehensive services, our customers trust us to be there when they need us and to get the job done. Give us a call or schedule an appointment online for any HVAC, plumbing, or electrical needs!