Before you switch the system to “on”, though, make sure to do several things to make sure that all systems are a go. If it's just you, you can always start with a gentle workout and a few extra layers of clothes. For keeping everyone warm, though, you should check through all your heating apparatus.
1. Practice Run
Before it really gets cold, turn on your system for about ten minutes just to make sure it’s working correctly. Listen for odd sounds, check the flow from the vents, and verify that the air coming out is warm. It’s better to identify and fix a problem before you really need to use the heating system.
2. Clear Around Your Furnace
If you store items around your furnace during the warm weather months, clear them now to allow your furnace to operate optimally and safely throughout the winter.
3. Inspect Vents
Before it gets too cold out, you’ll want to inspect your outdoor heating vents. When doing so, verify that they’re clear of leaves, bird and bee nests, and rodents. This step is especially important if you have a high efficiency furnace.
4. Replace or Clean the Air Filter
Check your furnace’s filter before you turn your heat on for the season. If yours has a throwaway filter, get rid of the one that’s in there and replace it. You may need to look up the filter size in your owner’s manual. If your filter is reusable, use a vacuum to clean it and rid it of dust. Then, wash the filter with soap and water. Allow it to dry completely before putting it back in your furnace.
5. Check Batteries
Verify that the batteries in your thermostat are working correctly before you turn on your heat. If needed, replace the batteries. You can tell if your heat is working by switching the system to on or bumping up the temperature and listening to hear if the system kicks into gear.
While you’re doing this, also check the batteries of your smoke and carbon monoxide detectors. You want to ensure these are in working order (always), but you also want to be sure that these are working before you turn on your heat in case there is any type of issue with the system.
6. Clean Your Furnace
Using a vacuum with a brush attachment, clean the accessible areas of your furnace. Also remove residue from the pilot light port and burners. Do this carefully to avoid damaging any component of your furnace.
7. Inspect the Blower Belt
If your furnace possesses a blower belt, it’s important to check it for cracks and general wear. The belt should depress lightly when pressed on. If the belt seems worn or is excessively cracked, remove the necessary bolts and replace it.
8. Check for Drafts
You’ll want to locate any drafts around your home to prevent the loss of heat that your system works hard to create within your home. Check windows and under doors for breezes or incoming air from the outside. Use insulation kits or draft dodgers to eradicate these drafts before you start heating your home for the winter to bring down your utility bills and to reduce wasted energy.
9. Clean Drain Lines
If you have a 90 percent efficiency unit, you need to clean drain lines on your furnace. Flush the lines with vinegar to get rid of condensation and residue. Alternatively, you can flush the line with 25 percent bleach mixed with 25 percent water. Clean the line by removing the hose and then pushing the solution of your choosing through it, then allowing it to dry and replacing it.
10. Clear Heat Vents
If you moved your furniture around during the spring and summer, move it to clear the way of heat vents. You want all of these vents to be free from blockages to get the most out of your heating system and to keep you and your family as warm as possible. Consider moving seating close to heating vents to stay comfortable in commonly used areas of your home during the winter months.
Getting your house ready for heating takes a bit of effort, but it’s well worth it to ensure that everything is working well and in order to save money and energy throughout the season.