Furnace Filters – Keeping Your Home Toasty All Winter

With winter approaching, our furnaces are about to start getting a work out.  The good news is that furnaces generally work pretty well and for a good long time but only if they are properly maintained.  The question is how to properly maintain them.

Changing Your Furnace Filters

The most frequent part of maintaining your furnace is changing the furnace air filters.  Most of these filters are fairly easy to reach and to replace so you don’t need to call out a professional.  Pull out your furnace’s maintenance book and read the section on filter replacement to find out which type of filter to use and how often to replace the filter.

Most disposable filters should be changed when you first start using your heating.  If you use your furnace continually, it’s a good idea to change out the filter every month.  When you don’t change your filter frequently enough, it can become clogged with dirt and debris.  As a result, your furnace won’t work as effectively or as efficiently.  In fact, if you’re already seeing high energy bills then changing your filters more frequently might be a good idea.

Not all furnace filters are disposable.  Some models only require cleaning.  Again, make sure you read the maintenance guide that came with your furnace to find out for sure.

Regardless of the type of filter, I would recommend cleaning the blower and other visible parts of the furnace every time you change the filter.  When these parts become too dirty, they can also affect the efficiency of your unit.  Some rags and a vacuum cleaner should be all the tools you need.  I’ve done this routinely with our current unit, which is fairly old, and it actually runs better than some of the newer units our neighbors have.

Other Furnace Servicing Needs

While changing your furnace filters regularly is probably the most common type of maintenance you’ll need to perform on your system, it’s probably not going to be all you need to do.   Some newer furnaces are fairly self-contained and require very little maintenance.  The bad news is that with these units the maintenance that is required must be done by a professional.  They just aren’t set up to make them easy for do-it-yourselfers to work with.

Older units don’t have the same problem.  You can more easily get in to do minor repairs or trouble shooting.  However, it’s a good idea to have those older units inspected periodically by a professional.  Carbon monoxide poisoning, for example, can be a problem with faulty older units.  Regularly inspections can also help you determine the remaining life of your unit.  Replacing your heating system can be costly so if you know your current unit only has another couple of years left then you can begin saving now to afford that replacement.

When it comes to your heating system, you should definitely be changing those furnace filters but it’s a good idea to call in professionals at least once a year to make sure everything is working correctly and that you can look forward to another toasty winter indoors.