As the winter fast approaches, it’s time to start thinking about heating your home. Before you just turn your system on, performing proper maintenance can ensure that it runs efficiently, so you don’t spend any more than you have to heating your home. Here are nine tips to make sure you heating system is ready for the winter:

  • Thermostat. Check your thermostat to make sure it’s operating properly. If it’s defective or older, consider upgrading it to a newer, programmable one. Not only do they provide better temperature readings, but they can be set to go on or turn off at specific times, ensuring you only pay for the heating that you use.
  • Air filter. Air filters make sure the air that is pumped throughout your heating system is clean. Clogged or used filters can hinder that process, adding air contaminants into your home. In addition, because they are dirty, your heating system will have to work harder to pass air through the filter, using more fuel and costing you more money. Replace the filters as needed.
  • Vents. Walk through your home and check all of the air vents. Blocked air vents will make your system work more than necessary, and will also prevent rooms from getting warmer. As you’re clearing the vents, remove the vent cover and clean both it and directly inside of the vent, as dust and sediment can gather there when not in use.
  • Ducts. As ducts age, gaps can form in joints, causing air to escape from the system, which is another cause of inefficiencies. Inspect the ducts thoroughly. Get some metal tape or high temperature silicone and plug any holes you find.
  • Dampers. If your home uses the same ducts for both heating and cooling, make sure to reset the damper during your duct inspection. This is especially important in two story homes. Because hot air rises, the dampers regulate airflow to send more cold air upstairs in the summer and more warm air downstairs in the winter. Set the damper to the proper season.
  • Burners. Turn your furnace’s electrical system off and remove the door of your furnace and inspect the burners. Once you find where the burners are, turn the electrical system back on and slowly raise your thermostat until the they come on. The flames should have an even consistency and be blue. If the flames are yellow, that indicates the burners are dirty and need maintenance. For safety, contact an oil furnace repair professional.
  • Blower. Use a ratchet and appropriate sized socket to remove the blower so that it can be cleaned. Once removed, clean with a vacuum and small brush. Be very careful when cleaning around the blades, as it is possible to cause an imbalance and damage the fan.
  • Bearings. Typical furnaces require the internal motors be properly lubricated annually. Clean around the oil caps before removing them. Then, apply two to three drops of lightweight machine oil in each motor. Be careful not to add any more, as over lubricating is just as bad as not using enough.
  • Fan belts. Over time, fan belts may shift or become damaged, causing them to break or work less efficiently. Locate the fan belts to see if they are properly in place and check them for any cracks or frays. If they look like they’re in good shape, simply readjust them. If damaged, install a replacement.

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