Furnace Cleaning Time?
When it's furnace cleaning time we usually envy those who have an electric furnace. Clean energy, such as what electricity provides, usually means, if not a spotlessly clean furnace, at least a cleaner one, when the time comes for an annual checkup and cleaning.
In most cases, irrespective of what kind of a furnace you have, furnace cleaning consists mainly of cleaning or replacing filters, checking the motor and fan and blower, and to the extent possible, cleaning out the duct work. Even if your furnace is the type that doesn't really get very dirty, an annual cleaning will prolong its usefulness, and cleaning the filters will certainly keep your furnace operating more efficiently.
Start With The Filters - Depending upon the furnace, and depending upon where it is located, the size of your home, and a few other factors, cleaning or changing out filters annually may not be enough. Assuming your furnace is operating most hours of the day during the winter months, the filters should be checked every 4 to 6 weeks. If they're collecting dirt and dust, they can rapidly influence the ability of the furnace to keep temperatures at desired levels. If you find yourself having to turn up the thermostat because the furnace doesn't seem to be working as well as it did the month before, it's probably time to take a look at the filters.
Your furnace may use disposable filters or permanent filters. Permanent filters are, as the name implies, reusable, and are cleaned periodically rather than being replaced. Disposable filters should be replaced when they appear clogged, which is usually evident when you hold them up the light and look through them. It can save some time and hassle by noting the size of disposable filters and getting one or two spares to have on hand during your next trip to the hardware store. The permanent filters usually have instructions on how best to clean them. If not, you may have to contact the manufacturer or a furnace retailer for that information.
Fans, Belts, And Pulleys - The blower assembly is just as important to keep clean as are the filters. Most furnaces have a marked, removable panel, providing access to the blower unit. The fan unit may or may not have to be removed to gain access to the blower area to clean it. A vacuum cleaner attachment will usually do the job, though wiping surfaces down is a good idea also. When accessing the fan and motor, be sure to clean belts and pulleys as well. The unit will last longer, and you may be able to avoid the problem of a dirty belt starting to slip. The furnace will hum merrily along, but warm air circulation may be reduced to near zero if belts start to malfunction.
Only The First Time Should Be Hard - Once you're in the mood, clean every surface you can get at, being careful of course not to get into areas you should not mess with, such as electrical connections. If you can access any portion of the duct system, vacuum it out as well. Any dust that accumulates in the ducting can affect those in the household who may have allergies. In some homes, duct cleaning will have to be done by professionals, and it can be expensive. The very first time you approach your furnace with a good cleaning in mind, you might have some feelings of apprehension. You'll soon find however, that it probably isn't as involved as you might have feared, and you'll be able to get the job done fairly quickly in the future, if not the first time. It's also a good idea to place a schedule or reminder near the furnace, to tell you when the filters should be inspected.