How to Prepare Your Furnace for Winter and Freezing Temperatures

August 23, 2023

thermostat technician

When temperatures start to drop during the winter season, we find ourselves reminding homeowners to prepare their furnace for freezing temperatures. Here are some of the steps that happen during a professional tune up.

Keep in mind: trying to DIY some of these steps could void the manufacturer’s warranty on your equipment, and could even be dangerous. Don’t risk something so important as your health and safety. Leave it us! The team at Hamilton will safely have your furnace ready to meet the heating demands of winter months and freezing temperatures.

How to Make Sure Your Furnace is Ready For Cold Weather

1. Conduct a visual inspection.

Look for holes, cracks or defects in the ductwork, which could allow waste gasses to re-enter the home. Check the outside ventilation cap to make sure it’s free of debris and blockages. If you notice any water stains on metal exhaust pipes, you could have moisture condensation within the flue or lack a proper flue cap that ends up allowing rainfall down the chimney. If you think you see anything out of the ordinary, or if you’d just like a professional opinion to be sure nothing is wrong, give us a call.

2. Have a professional clear the drainage tube.

Contact a professional, who will turn off power to the HVAC system at the breaker and thermostat before cleaning the condensate drain outlet. They should then clean the condensate pan by flushing the drain and clearing away debris. The pros at Hamilton can help with this.

3. Replace the air filters.

This is one step you can do yourself. The air filter keeps dust, pollen, pet dander and other particulates out of your home. Over time, it gets covered in layers of dust and inhibits air flow. So before you turn on the heat, replace the air filter. Your options for air filters include: fiberglass/synthetic filters, polyester filters, electrostatic filters, pleated filters and HEPA filters.

Also check the size and type of your current filter before purchasing a new one. A poorly-fitting replacement filter could damage your system and negatively impact air flow.

Reach out to a Hamilton Plumbing Heating A/C Rooter professional to learn more about the different types of filters.

4. Clean ducts and air vents, dust and vacuum.

A professional tune up should include cleaning the supply and return air registers with a wet rag or vacuum and removing any furniture blocking airflow. You can also remove the registers to sweep out the dust and debris within the piping system. The pros at Hamilton are equipped with a vacuum with a long hose for heavy duty cleaning.

5. Clean the flame sensor.

A flame sensor is a thin, metallic rod located in front of the flame stream inside the furnace which helps to prevent a dangerous buildup of unburned gas. If the flame sensor does not detect gas, it automatically shuts down the unit.

Over time, a flame sensor can become dirty from carbon buildup. We can clean the sensor by gently rubbing the metal rod with a light grit sandpaper. After sanding, we usually use a clean paper towel to wipe away any remaining dust.

6. Inspect the blower belt.

Before inspecting the blower belt, we turn off power to the HVAC system at the main circuit breaker. Next, we’ll remove the steel cover of the air handler. We’re looking for any cracks in the blower belt that may need to be replaced.

7. Inspect the exhaust flue.

The flue pipe is responsible for releasing exhaust gasses and other combustion byproducts into the atmosphere outside of the home. A furnace flue pipe is made of metal and covered by insulating material. A professional should inspect the exhaust flue outdoors to make sure there is nothing covering the opening.

8. Set a lower temperature on the programmable thermostat.

Finally, to save on utility bills this winter, set a lower temperature on the thermostat when you’re away and asleep. Wear layers at night and give the furnace a slight break.

If you suspect any serious issues with your furnace or have any additional questions, reach out to Hamilton Plumbing Heating A/C Rooter for a free consultation and inspection.

When To Call An Expert

If you have any doubt, call an expert. Never do anything that will void the warranty on your equipment. Don’t hesitate to give Hamilton Plumbing Heating A/C Rooter a call with any questions or concerns — we’re happy to help you prepare for winter!

Last Updated: August 24, 2023