Whether you are a do it for me (DIFM) or a do it yourself (DIY) person, there are some simple tasks to prepare your furnace before the real cold arrives.  Thanksgiving signals two things.  Time to put up the holiday lights and time to switch on the heat.  Check the following list to be sure your furnace is ready for the coming winter.


  1. Turn on the thermostat.

Turn on the thermostat and switch from cooling to heating.  Set the temperature a couple of degrees higher than the current room temperature.  If you don’t hear the heat kick on within a minute, pull off the cover and make sure the wire connections look secure.  If the connections are snug, make sure the power source to the HVAC system is turned on.  Some forced air systems have a light switch that needs to be flipped when the seasons change.  If it’s still not working, you could check the furnace fan, blower, or heat pump — but it likely makes better sense to call in a professional.


  1. Change the air filters.

You probably have air filters behind a vent grill in the wall or ceiling, or a single filter in the HVAC system itself.  Change these filters every 3 months.  Or, if you have a permanent electrostatic filter, you can wash and reuse it every three months.  Cleaning or replacing your filters regularly keeps dust and particles out of your HVAC system and can prolong its life.  If your HVAC includes a humidifier change the filter and set the humidistat to 35 to 40 percent.


  1. Cover the AC condenser.

Heat pumps do not need to be covered and run all year.  For a HVAC system, cover the air conditioning condenser to protect it from snow, ice, and falling icicles.  A large trash can lid secured with bungee cords works quite well for this function.  You can also use a board to cover the fan but don’t wrap it in a plastic tarp which will trap moisture.


  1. Clean the heat exchanger.

Annually, the heat exchanger should be brushed and vacuumed out by a trained professional while the unit is disabled.  While it’s being cleaned, a technician will look for cracks, which could lead to a dangerous carbon monoxide leak into your home.


  1. Lubricate and clean the blower motor.

First check the owner’s manual to see if your motor is the kind that needs lubricating.  If it does, turn off the power, open the cover and clean the caps covering the bearings.  Then remove the caps and lubricate the bearings.  If this sounds like Greek, call a professional furnace technician to do annual furnace maintenance.


  1. Test the igniter switch.

On an old system, you might have to relight the pilot.  Newer systems have electronic ignitors.  If the ignitor isn’t working, push the reset button.  If that doesn’t do the trick, check your breaker.  Call in a professional if it is still not working.


  1. Inspect the chimney and carbon monoxide detectors.

Chimneys can be blocked with carbon buildup or even small animals.  A professional should inspect them at the beginning of winter.  Monthly test carbon monoxide detectors as they help protect you.  Replace carbon monoxide detectors every 7-10 years.  Change the batteries twice a year in the spring and fall when the time changes.


  1. If you have an oil-powered furnace, replace your filter, nozzle, and check the tank level.

Unlike gas-fired systems, oil units require oil filter changes, burner nozzle cleaning and a thorough heat-exchanger brushing to keep them running efficient since oil doesn’t burn as cleanly as gas.  Annually have a professional technician perform these tasks.

Contact us East Coast Mechanical

Email: ecmcecmc@aol.com

Address: 5133 W Hurley Pond Rd Suite A, Wall Township, NJ 07727

Phone:  800-300-ECMC or 732-751-8877

Hours: Monday to Friday 8 AM to 5 PM and Closed Saturday and Sunday.