When something goes wrong with your furnace in the dead of winter, the last thing you want to do is bundle up and wait for help. You want to know what’s wrong, and you want it fixed fast. And to prevent problems from happening in the first place, you might take a certain amount of furnace maintenance onto your shoulders. After all, how hard can it be?
There are several maintenance checks you can easily perform yourself, and some minor repairs may even be possible. But not doing things the right way can lead to serious problems and malfunctions. If you choose to apply your DIY skills to furnace repair and maintenance, be sure to avoid the following mistakes!
- 1. Buying a furnace and installing it yourself
- Many people look at the breakdown of new furnace costs and see that installation is typically more expensive than the appliance itself. The natural impulse is to try and save that money. But there’s a good reason for the price of installation. Putting in a new furnace requires specialized equipment, not to mention years of training and experience. It’s also illegal to work with gas lines unless you’re licensed and accredited to do so. When it comes to furnace installation, “ how hard can it be” should be the furthest question from your mind.
- 2. Neglecting your filters
- When the air filter in your furnace is not replaced at regular intervals (every 1 to 3 months is recommended during colder seasons), a multitude of problems can creep up on you. A dirty filter will cause dust and debris to accumulate inside the unit, which can result in an overheating within the furnace. It also creates problems with air quality and puts added strain on your HVAC system. Learning to change your filter correctly is a good money saver and will extend the lifespan of your furnace dramatically.
- 3. Touching the hot surface igniter
- Most modern furnace use hot surface igniters instead of electric and pilot light components. This part of the furnace can get dirty, and it does benefit from cleaning—but proceed with caution, because this is a very delicate piece of equipment. Handling or even touching a hot surface igniter will often result in breakage. Then you have to buy new one and have it installed. To avoid this scenario, use canned air or a simple plastic straw to remove dust from the igniter without touching it.
- 4. Ignoring vents and ducts
- People sometimes focus on the furnace itself while neglecting the important network of ducts and vents that actually deliver heat to various parts of the home. Vents are particularly easy to clean—and not doing so can prevent the heat generated by your furnace from penetrating your home thoroughly. This is not good for your wallet. Ducts can also collect dust and debris, lowering your air quality and heating efficiency. Cleaning ducts is a bit more difficult, but it can be done with the right equipment and know-how.
Calling It In
If you have any doubt about what you should or shouldn’t do to properly maintain your furnace, or any part of your HVAC system, it’s best to call for a professional maintenance visit and ask your technician’s opinion about what should be included in your DIY furnace maintenance schedule.