Once the weather warms up, the last thing most people consider is their heater. It’s done its job for the winter. Now it’s time for your furnace to hibernate, right?
Well, mostly. It’s true that you probably won’t turn on your furnace much, if at all, from April on. But, that doesn’t mean it’s quite yet time to put it out of mind.
Instead, now is the time to “summerize” your heater. Taking a few quick steps now will make sure it’s ready to go again in a few months. Doing so can save you a few dollars in the long run, too. You may even avoid a headache or two next winter.
Here are some steps you can take to “summerize” your heater to prolong its life:
Clean out soot and scale
Soot and scale are byproducts of burning fuel. Think about the ash that’s created when you make a fire. And, spring is a good time to clean out your furnace.
Each one is a little different. Soot is black and powdery. It’s made up of fine particles and carbon deposits. Essentially, soot is what’s leftover from burning a fossil fuel. Scale is another byproduct. It’s flakes of rust and mineral buildup created by carbon dioxide and water vapor. It can fall on burners or build up in pipes.
However, both soot and scale can make your furnace less efficient. They impede the flow of air through the system. This causes the furnace to burn more fuel to move enough heated air through your house. If the furnace is overworked, it may begin to break down.
Soot can also become a fire hazard if it builds up. It can land in many places inside the furnace. Even though it comes from burning fuel, it is flammable itself.
Soot buildup can also trap carbon monoxide in your system. It can also contribute to your furnace creating more of this poisonous gas than it should. If carbon monoxide cannot escape through the regular venting system outside, it can build up in your home. The buildup is almost impossible to detect without carbon monoxide detectors, and it can be deadly.
Therefore, it’s important to clean out soot and scale buildup from time to time. Some people have their HVAC providers check for this in the fall as part of a yearly inspection. If you don’t, or even if you do, it’s still a good idea to clean it out in the spring. This way, you can clean out buildup from when the furnace ran during the winter.
Change your heater’s air filter
Air filters are an important part of your furnace. They prevent dust and other particles from traveling all through your system and into your home. This keeps the air quality in your home high. It also prolongs the life of your furnace by keeping the inner parts clean and working properly.
Changing an air filter is inexpensive and simple to do. On average, you should change your air filter three times a year. That amounts to every four months or so. But, it’s easy to lose track of the last time you did it.
With that in mind, changing your air filter in the spring is a good idea for a few reasons. First, you’ll remember to do it when the season changes. Second, the air filter is most likely pretty dirty from all the winter use. Swapping it out now will make sure your furnace is ready to go the next time it needs to kick on.
Have your heater inspected or repaired
Your furnace has made it through another long winter. Now, it’s time to make sure it can make it through another one.
There are a few advantages to having your heater inspected or repaired in the spring. First, you’ll catch any new damage or wear and tear. After a winter of heavy use, it’s possible something’s gone wrong. An inspection in the spring will catch it early.
Next, you’ll want to schedule any repairs you need. If an HVAC tech has suggested getting something fixed down the road, now is the time. You’ll want to get it addressed before more heavy use later in the year causes a breakdown. Also, since its tax return season, you may have a few extra dollars to invest in your home.
Also, now that winter is passed HVAC companies aren’t as busy. This makes scheduling an inspection or repairs much easier. In some cases, you may even get a break on the price since it’s a slow time of year.
At the least, you won’t run the risk of paying extra for emergency or priority service. This happens sometimes in the winter when many people have breakdowns and an HVAC company can’t get to them all right away.
Fill your oil
If you have oil heat, filling up once winter is over helps prolong your oil heater’s life. The reason for this has to do with timing.
Warm weather and the temperature fluctuations can cause condensation in your tank. This can cause rust to build up, which can damage the tank. Also, the water becomes home to small organisms that can create sediment. Buildup can cause your system to run inefficiently when air can’t move easily through the system.
However, keeping your tank full means less room in there for condensation. When there’s less surface available, there is less chance of rust and buildup. And, you won’t use your heater much, if at all, for a few months. Filling it now will keep it protected for a while.