Simple Furnace Maintenance Tips

For many, a home furnace isn’t just about personal comfort—it’s an actual lifeline that keeps their home warm enough to survive in freezing temperatures. A system that important to your health and well-being should be taken care of carefully and maintained for long-lasting performance. Whether you’re a hard-core DIYer ready to tackle any project, or you’re the type of person who prefers to hire out all those homecare tasks so that you don’t have to deal with them, there are still a few key furnace maintenance tips that you should know about.

furnace filter


Replace the Air Filter Frequently

One of the most important things you can do for the health of your home’s furnace is to replace the filter frequently. If you haven’t done so yet, go down to your basement or wherever your furnace is located and remove the air filter to check its condition. If it’s a paper filter, replace it if it looks dirty and dusty. If it’s a washable filter, it will be made from a more rugged foam or plastic material. Wash it out and put it back in place. If you rely on disposable filters, make sure that you have a stockpile of them. They should be replaced once every one to six months, depending on how quickly they fill with debris.

Keep Everything Away from Your Furnace

Your furnace likely heats up quite a bit during operation, and it has many delicate systems running at the same time to keep your home comfortable and warm. To make sure the system is able to run safely and effectively, clean all around the furnace regularly and avoid cluttering up the space around the unit.

Do a Thermostat Test

Before it becomes too cold outside, it’s important to test to make sure your system is functioning properly. The first step of that is testing the thermostat. Set the thermostat to a warmer temperature than outside, and wait for the furnace to kick on. For a very accurate test, you can leave the furnace running to see if it reaches the desired temperature, but simply checking to see if it kicks on and off is likely enough to ensure that the thermostat and the rest of the furnace is functioning.

Have an Inspection Done

Unless you’re a certified HVAC technician, there’s a good chance you aren’t doing all the maintenance necessary to keep your furnace running properly. Make sure to get an annual inspection to make sure all the components are performing properly, and to help guarantee that all the necessary maintenance is being performed. An annual inspection will help you avoid expensive repairs or having to replace the entire furnace later on, and it’s relatively affordable to have one performed.

More Involved Maintenance

If you’re comfortable with simple maintenance projects and you’re willing to take your maintenance one step further to cut down on what you pay a professional, and to help your system run more effectively each year, here are three additional steps you can take to keep your system running well.

Take these Safety Precautions

For any maintenance task on this list other than changing the air filter, it’s important that your furnace is completely powered down. First smell around the furnace for any gas present. If there is a strong gas odor, call a professional and get out of your home right away—do not try and fix the issue yourself! If not, flip the breaker that goes to your furnace to remove all power from the system so it won’t activate while you’re working on it.

blower cleaning


Clean Out the Blower

Most homeowners know about the importance of replacing or cleaning out air filters regularly, but few know that they should be cleaning out the blower as well. When a furnace operates, some of the dirt and debris that the filter stops makes it through to the blower of the system. Here, the debris accumulates and can cause potential problems and definite inefficiencies over time. Remove all the panels that cover the blower—they are typically right around the section with your air filter. With the panels out of the way, wipe down the blower as well as all the pulleys with a damp cloth. You’ll be surprised at how much dirt and grime comes off, especially if this hasn’t been done yet.

Clean Out the Gas Vent

If you have a gas furnace, the fumes from it have to be vented out of your home. Over time the vent can become clogged and lead to unsafe leaks around your home when the furnace runs. Remove the cover over the gas vent. Use a large bristle brush and a vacuum hose attachment to remove any dirt, dust, and debris from the vent to allow those fumes to flow freely.

Follow these simple steps and you’ll have a smooth-running furnace that lasts for quite a long time. Of course, you’ll have to replace your furnace at some point, but with the right maintenance routine, you’ll get more time and value out of your investment before having to make that replacement.

13 Responses

  1. Ethel

    I didn’t think about trying the thermostat before it got cold out. Unfortunately, our HVAC system went out right when it started getting cold. I regret not checking before it snowed. I am having an HVAC repair company come out and fix it, but when that is all said and done, I want to properly maintain the new system. I appreciate all these maintenance tips! Thank you.

    • Lauren Pezzullo

      Proper and regular maintenance is a surefire way to keep your HVAC system running as long as possible. We’re glad that these tips have helped you, Ethel!

  2. Kent

    Regular filter maintenance is super important, I’m glad you reminded me! I haven’t done it in a while.

  3. Kyler Brown

    My wife and I just moved into a home for the first time. We have always just lived in apartments, and therefore most of the maintenance work performed was by a maintenance man. This post was very helpful for me, especially since I will need to be taking care of my own furnace now. I didn’t realize that the blower and gas vent would need to be cleaned regularly for optimal performance. Thanks!

  4. Jessie Harrison

    My furnace isn’t working as well as it used to. I’m a little worried that I need to have it inspected. Although, maybe it could just be a malfunction with my thermostat. I’ll try to test that first. Thanks.

  5. April Cook

    I like your tip to keep everything away from the furnace. I use that space for storage and didn’t realize that having things around it could be a problem. I guess I need to clean out that closet to make sure the furnace can operate correctly. Thanks for these great tips!

  6. Kendall Ryder

    I would rather just hire someone to come and look at my HVAC system, rather than try and figure out the problem myself. I don’t have a lot of experience with this sort of thing, so it would be a better idea to leave it to the pros! I would hate to try and start fixing the problem, only to realize that I made it worse. That would just cause me more time and more money!

  7. Kate Hansen

    Performing simple maintenance on your furnace will probably help it last longer. I like that you mention that at some point, there will be a point where you will need a certified technician to inspect your furnace because you won’t know what to look for. I wonder if this is something that you can set up when you first buy your furnace and have them come once a year to check on it.

  8. I want to make sure that my furnace is taken care of. It makes sense that I would want to have the air filter replaced often! I’ll be sure to check on it more.

  9. Jason Gregg

    Fantastic advice and information. So many people pay almost no attention at all to their furnace… until it leaves them cold and desperately dialing their local heating and cooling companies for help. Pay a little preventative money now, or pay a lot in repairs later!

  10. Ryan

    These are great furnace maintenance tips! replacing the air filters frequently can really help keep your furnace in a good condition! Thanks for sharing!

  11. Annika Larson

    As you said, a heating system is an essential part of the home. I am not sure that ours is as efficient as it could be, so we will have to take your suggestion and have an inspection done by a professional. Safety is always the top priority! Thanks for sharing!

  12. I want to make sure that my heater is taken care of. I didn’t realize how important maintenance is! I’ll be sure to have a professional take a look at it every once in a while.

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