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Cool Mornings are Here – Is your Heater Ready?

by admin on September 21, 2012

Cool mornings mean it’s time to get your heater ready for another winter season.  With a few relatively simple steps, you can reduce your chances of having an emergency service call due to an unwanted heater repair.

Step #1 – Change your filter

The first step is actually something you should do every couple of months – clean or change your furnace filter.  A clean filter will improve air flow through your heating system and help to keep it clean.  A dirty filter can cut down airflow so much that your furnace will shut itself down on a high temperature limit switch.

Step #2 – Light the pilot (if necessary)

Pilot lights are becoming a thing of the past, but there are still a few out there.  If your heater uses a pilot light, you should really consider upgrading to a new furnace with electronic ignition.  The new furnaces are much more efficient and the warranty on your existing unit probably expired 15+ years ago.  All that said, if you still have a furnace that utilizes a pilot light for ignition, you need to ensure that it is lit.  If it isn’t, you’ll need to light it.  It’s a relatively simple process, but if you’ve never done it before you might want to do a search on YouTube and watch someone else do it first.

Step #3 – Turn the thermostat to the Heat mode

The filter has been changed, and the pilot has been lit, so now it’s time to turn the thermostat to the Heat position.  If the furnace doesn’t come on within a few minutes, turn the thermostat off for 10 minutes and then retry it.  If it still doesn’t come on, repeat this step one more time before calling a service professional.

gas furnace
Atchley Air’s Signature Collection Gas Furnace

When the furnace does finally light, it is not unusual to smell a mild burning odor.  This is typically caused from dust and debris that has accumulated in the furnace over the last several months and is burning off.

CAUTION:  There is a saying I’ve heard my kids use that is something like this:  “Boom goes the dynamite!”.  You don’t want this from your furnace!  If the heater makes a booming noise, you need to call a service professional!  This is not normal and needs to be addressed before using the furnace again.

Step #4 – Schedule a tune-up

Hopefully your furnace is running and you’ve knocked the chill off the house.  Now it’s time to call to schedule your annual heater check-up.  Every manufacturer and industry organization recommends an annual check-up of your heater by a service professional.  This check-up will keep your system running more efficiently and effectively, and will reduce the risk of a safety hazard developing within your home.

Step #5 – Buy a low level carbon monoxide monitor

Carbon Monoxide is a byproduct of the heating process within the furnace.  When operating normally, less than 100 parts per million of CO is produced, and it is vented out of the furnace to the outside of the house.  When a malfunction within the heater occurs, CO levels can rise and can enter the living area of your house.  Buy a high quality low level CO Monitor to protect your family – it will cost you somewhere around $150, but the lives it protects are priceless!