How To Prepare Your Furnace For A Summer Of Dormancy

With temperatures on the rise, there's a good chance you won't be using your furnace for quite a while. However, putting your furnace in hibernation involves more than just changing your thermostat settings. There are plenty of other things you can do to ensure your furnace remains in great shape, even when it's not being used.

Remember to Change the Air Filter

Now that you're switching over to cooling your home, right now is a good time to check and change your air filter. If you have a central HVAC system, then chances are your furnace and air conditioner share the same blower fan. A dirty air filter can have detrimental effects on your heating and cooling system's performance and efficiency. For example, a dirty air filter can block incoming air from flowing into the HVAC system, causing the blower motor to run harder in order to draw in the same amount of air as it did with a clean air filter.

Most experts recommend that you replace your air filter every three months to preserve your HVAC system's overall performance, as well as your indoor air quality. If you have pets or household members with allergies or asthma, then you may want to replace your air filter on a monthly basis instead.

Consider Turning the Pilot Light Off

The majority of modern furnaces use an electronic igniter to start the furnace. However, some homes still use furnaces that rely on an always-burning pilot light. Keeping the pilot light lit throughout the summer can end up being a drain on your finances, since you're not actually using your furnace. A pilot light by itself can consume up to 12 therms of natural gas each month, resulting in both wasted fuel and money during the summer months.

As you extinguish your furnace's pilot light, you should make sure that its gas supply is turned off and that there aren't any leaks coming from the gas line itself or any of the nearby fittings and joints. If you happen to smell a strong odor of natural gas, you should immediately exit your home and leave the door open. Afterwards, you should call your gas company or the local fire department to assess and control the leak.

Tidy Up the Area Around Your Furnace

It's not unusual for dust and debris to accumulate around the base of the furnace, especially after months of continuous operation with little to no supervision. Now that your furnace is being shut down, it's a good time to break out a broom or bring out the vacuum cleaner to get rid of any excess debris or dirt you happen to see.

Clean Up the Return and Supply Air Registers

The area around your furnace isn't the only place where dust and debris can collect unnoticed. Dust and debris can also build up on the supply and return air registers. To prevent this debris from circulating throughout your duct system, it's a good idea to wipe or vacuum the registers. Use a soft, damp cloth or a vacuum hose fitted with a soft brush attachment for the best results.

Have a Professional Take One Last Look

After doing everything you can to ready your furnace for season-long shutdown, it's time to get a professional involved. You should have a seasoned HVAC technician take one last look at your furnace before shutting it down for the off-season. Your technician will not only check your handiwork, but also check areas of your furnace that you might not be able to access on your own. For instance, your technician can perform a cursory check of your heat exchanger for rust, cracks, and other defects that could cause poor heating performance or even a carbon monoxide leak.