Preparing Your Furnace for Summer

Preparing Your Furnace for Summer

There are a slew of reasons to shut down your furnace after a long, bitter-cold winter.  For most of us, the number one reason is the unnecessary cost associated with having it on when it’s not needed.  Reports show that households save up to $100 on utility bills annually, depending on the home’s size and location, by seasonally turning off the furnace.

Keeping it running doesn’t only affect your pocketbook, but also the environment; the energy and gas the furnace requires is wasted since it’s not in use.  And here’s another reason to have it serviced during “down time”:  a malfunctioning furnace threatens lives with fires, dangerous levels of carbon monoxide, gas leaks, and accidental electrical problems.

Plus, you really just need to give that ole’ furnace some love.  After working hard all winter to keep your family warm, let it have a well-deserved break and tune-up during the summer while you’re out enjoying the weather.

So we’re now committed to the practice of preparing our furnaces for summer because we understand why it’s important.  Let’s dive in a little deeper to the logistics.

Power Down

Most handymen who have turned off their own furnace before will tell you that it’s easy enough to do yourself.  It’s also a fast process that will save you labor costs.  However, keep in mind that you don’t want to do it too early:  to turn it back on you have to relight the pilot light which can be a hassle.  So check the weather forecast before performing these simple steps to turn the furnace off:

  1. Turn down the thermostat
  2. Turn the valve on the gas supply line to a right angle with the line.  This cuts off fuel to the pilot light so you will see it extinguishes immediately.
  3. Flip off the switch on the furnace.
  4. Find the gas control switch and flip it off as well.

A note on turning off the pilot light:  if your unit uses gas or propane, don’t hesitate to turn it off.  But most units using oil should just be set to low instead of shut off.  Professionals say that when you shut off a pilot light on an oil-using furnace, condensation forms, seals leak, and rust forms.  In fact many companies will void the warranty if you do this.

Service It

Summer is best time to inspect your furnace and see if there are any problems that need to be addressed or if the whole unit needs to be replaced.  You’ll find that doing so increases its efficiency during the winter when you rely on it.

During the winter, furnaces collect dust that needs to be removed.  The solution?  Vacuum everything!  Vacuum near the van, the air filter compartment, and around the furnace.  Cleaning and replacing the air filter also protects the inside of the furnace from dust build up and saves on fuel.  And cleaning near the van prevents mold and dust from infesting your home through the ducts.

Besides removing dust accumulation, also clear any obstructions you see and look for loose connections which are common due to the expanding and contracting which occurs during temperature changes.  Reach out to the furnace manufacturer or refer to the owner’s manual for more suggestions.

In most places, including Utah, furnace repair companies typically experience lower business flow during the warm summer months.  So if you’re thinking what I’m thinking, that might be an ideal time to get in-line to have your heating equipment inspected and/or serviced.  It seems like others will want the same thing done as the weather gets colder so why not get a head start on them and reduce your wait time?

Duct Cleaning

This topic is a natural segway into duct cleaning, which is where you clean components of a forced air system.  Many endorse this service, alleging it improves the quality of the air and mitigates allergies, but no evidence supports these claims.

However, the EPA does suggest cleaning them as needed since they get dirty over time.  For instance, it might be time if you suspect there are excessive amounts of dust because you sneeze or see particles released when the system turns on.   Additionally, if you know your home has rodents or insects or already see mold build-up, which occurs when moisture is present, you need to have your air ducts cleaned and you might as well take care of it while you’re preparing your furnace for summer.

By Jessica Christensen

If you found this article at least moderately informative, tolerably readable, and occasionally entertaining, consider reading more by the author.  Jessica is a prolific writer who isn’t deterred from any topic:  reviewing her published works you’ll find something for everyone with topics from beauty schools to home appliance tips.  But if you’re particularly riveted by furnace maintenance, she’s tackled other topics which might interest you such as geothermal heating and how to find the right professional serviceman.  If you don’t want to miss a thing from this writer, follow her on Google +.