With winter well underway, the last thing you want to deal with is a faulty furnace. Waking up in the middle of the night with no heat, freezing temperatures, and no professional help for hours is a nightmare. While you should leave complicated repair work to an HVAC certified professional, there are plenty of simple things you can do to help prepare your heating system for the winter. Below you will find a few easy DIY tips to help you avoid a heating disaster.
TIP 1: FIGURE OUT THAT DARN THERMOSTAT!
One of the best things you can do to help your overall heating efficiency in the home is to become well acquainted with how your thermostat works. Most digital thermostats can be configured to maintain specific temperatures at specific times throughout the week (not just per day). Using your furnace only when necessary not only reduces overall wear and tear (and potential failure) but also will reduce your monthly energy bill. And, as a bonus, bringing the overall temperature down in your house can benefit things like your freezer and refrigerator as they don't have to work quite as hard to keep things cool.
TIP 2: DO A VISUAL INSPECTION
You don't need to be a professional to diagnose obvious problems with your heating system. Look around your furnace for signs of condensation or water leaking anywhere: not only is this a sign that your furnace probably needs professional maintenance, but condensation during the day can freeze the pipes at night, resulting in a potential late night disaster.
Also, inspect the gas line feeding into your furnace. Natural gas has a distinct odor; if you open your utility closet and detect an odd smell, you may have a leak somewhere along the line. If you aren't sure, you can always apply a little soapy water to your gas lines to see if there are any leaks. Bubbles will start forming anywhere gas is escaping, and you (or a professional) can tighten the line down.
TIP 3: REPLACE THE FILTER
Replacing the air filter in your furnace is a simple procedure. More complicated is deciding which air filter to get! Professionals warn against buying the cheapest air filter you can find, as it will need more frequent replacing (and typically doesn't perform well enough to merit the cheap cost anyway). If you have pets, a large house, and/or anyone with asthma or allergies, you may want to consider springing for something heftier than the standard 1" filters you can find at the hardware store.