If you aren’t a furnace expert, which most people aren’t, then how are you supposed to know if the unit in your home is safe and in good working order? The short answer is that there are a few simple things you can check. Of course, the best way to know your furnace is safe is by hiring a qualified, licensed company for the installation and remaining diligent when it comes to routine maintenance. In this post, we’ll cover what you need to do to make sure your furnace is running as smoothly as possible, and when it’s time to call in Jacksonville’s premier furnace service company.

Routine Maintenance

As with anything in your home, the more proactive you are, the better off your equipment will be. You can stay on top of routine furnace maintenance by doing a number of things. The most common (and most often overlooked) maintenance you can do is to change the filters. This should be done every two to three months in average households. In homes with more than three occupants and/or multiple pets, filters should be changed once every thirty days and every three to six months in seldom-used vacation/seasonal homes.

If you live alone in a small condo or apartment and don’t have any pets, then you may only need to change the filters once every three or four months. It really just depends on your home and lifestyle. Although, it’s recommended to remain cautious and change them out every two to three months. It’s also smart to buy a one-year supply every May or November (before the start of heavy usage seasons such as summer and winter). You can typically buy a four or six-pack for about $50 to $100 at your local home improvement supply store but you should make note of the size of the air filters your unit requires by writing down the dimensions before you go to the store. There are few things more annoying than buying air filters, bringing them home, and then realizing you actually needed 20”x25”x1” and not 20”x20”x1”.

Frequent Test Runs

Another thing you can do is test your system every few months. For instance, if it’s the middle of July, then you most likely already know that your air conditioning is working fine, but your heat probably hasn’t been turned on in a few months and winter is just around the corner. Therefore, it’s usually good to check your heating at least once per summer and your air conditioning at least once per winter; run each for about ten minutes at a time. That way you can avoid any unhappy surprises when it comes time to switch over the thermostat. It also helps to burn off some of the dust which has collected on the heating coils which tends to make for one unpleasant afternoon in December when eight months of dust are burning off at one time.

If you have a unit with a lot of different settings (various levels of heat and cool air, five fan settings, energy efficiency mode, timers, etc) then it’s also a good idea to go through each of the settings to test them one at a time. It may sound tedious, and it sort of is, but you’ll be happy if you discover a problem five months before you would ever be bothered by it. Not only is this good for staying on top of maintenance but it also helps you budget for any work that does need to be done. It’s much easier to save up for five months to get your heater fixed rather than desperately needing someone to come out tomorrow because it’s only twelve degrees outside.

Change Your Batteries

It’s also a good idea to check and maintain your smoke alarms and carbon monoxide detectors on a regular basis. You can do this by pressing the test button (which is most often found on the face of the smoke detector) every thirty to sixty days and changing the batteries twice per year. I always recommend changing alarm batteries on the same days you change the clocks for Daylight Saving Time. Another issue that often goes overlooked is when people use different batteries throughout the home. It’s best to change all of the smoke detector batteries at one time, using the same brand with the same expiration date on the side (yes, batteries have expiration dates, if you didn’t already know that), and preferably from the same package. This is helpful because while a certain brand may last you one amount of time, another brand may only last half as long; leaving you with batteries going out at random intervals.

Besides changing filters, checking for overall function, and changing the occasional thermostat battery, there isn’t much an untrained professional can do to ensure their furnace is in safe working order. That’s why it’s best to have contracted technicians who can come out regularly to do exhaustive systems tests. In fact, even if your furnace is working perfectly fine, that doesn’t necessarily mean everything is hunky-dory. Oftentimes, a technician will find that the unit wasn’t running as efficiently as it should have been because of a minor part, which may not stop heat from coming out of the vents, but could have a major effect on your utility bills over time. You’d be surprised at how much money you can save throughout the year just because something like a thermistor or regulator needed to be replaced.

No matter which type of furnace you have or which type of house you live in, the important thing to remember is that you should never let routine heating maintenance go by the wayside. Especially when professional help is only a phone call away. With a little patience, a fair amount of discipline, and the aid of a trusted HVAC company, you will never have to worry about your furnace again. For all of your HVAC needs, call J&W Heating and Air + Plumbing at (904) 764-0040. Proudly serving the Jacksonville area since 1966.

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