How to Get Your Furnace Ready for Winter

By Lyle Weischwill | Sep. 12, 2023 7:07 am PST

As summer ends and the chill of fall enters the air, it’s time to get your furnace ready for winter. Don’t put off maintaining your furnace until you need it because you’ll want it in top shape and operating properly all winter long. Take action now.

DIY Tips for Getting Your Furnace Ready for Cold Weather

You can accomplish a lot on your own when you put your mind to it. That includes getting your furnace ready for winter.

Follow these expert tips to get your furnace in top shape to handle the coldest winter conditions.

Check the Thermostat

Without a working thermostat, you can freeze like an icicle in the dead of winter. Make sure that your thermostat is working properly before the cold weather hits.

  1. Turn on the power switch for the furnace so power gets to the heating system. Many furnace systems have a power switch beside the furnace blower system that shuts off the furnace during warm months. Flip that switch on before testing the thermostat.
  2. Set the thermostat to heat and jack the thermostat temperature setting up until the furnace turns on.
  3. Check for hot air coming through the vents to verify that the thermostat works properly.

This will also verify that every other system in your furnace is working properly. For the most part, your mission is accomplished.

Additional DIY Tasks Needed to Ensure Smooth Furnace Operation

Don’t stop just yet. You should perform additional DIY steps to make sure that your furnace will operate smoothly through the upcoming winter months.

Replace the Air Filter

Unless your filter is already brand new, you’ll want to replace the filter to ensure smooth furnace operation. A clogged filter will impede air-flow through the furnace and reduce heating capacity.

After checking the thermostat, replacing the air filter is the most effective way to ensure smooth furnace operation.

Continue to replace the air filter regularly throughout the winter. When your furnace runs nearly continuously in winter to keep you warm, replace the filter every 2 weeks or twice as often as recommended to maintain proper airflow and heating throughout your home.

Clean the Firebox

If you’re unable to complete this DIY maintenance stop on your own, it’s time to call in the professionals – Sears Home Services. Taking the cover off the fire box isn’t something that most homeowners are willing to do. With good reason, removing the fire box cover without shutting off furnace electrical power and the gas supply can result in serious injury to you and your household as well as damage to your entire home.

Image of cleaning the fire box in a furnace

If you’re completely confident that you can clean the fire box on your own, have at it.

  1. Disconnect electrical power to the furnace. This often entails just flipping the switch on the side of the blower housing. Shut off the breaker if you see that switch.
  2. Shut off the gas supply.
  3. Remove the fire box cover.
  4. Vacuum out the dirt and debris from the fire box.
  5. Reinstall the fire box cover.
  6. Turn back on the gas supply.
  7. Restore electrical power to the furnace.

Test furnace operation after cleaning the fire box. If you detect any problems, have a Sears Technician inspect and repair the furnace.

Get a Furnace Tune-Up Yearly

Even though we describe how to maintain your furnace on your own, it’s best to have a professional Sears Technician clean & maintain your furnace for you at least once yearly. The technician will inspect the wiring, controls, fans and combustion chamber during maintenance and discuss any problems with you.

Here’s a video that describes how a Sears Technician will prepare your furnace for winter:

During the fall HVAC tune-up, your Sears Technician will:

  • Check the thermostat. Even if you checked the thermostat yourself, the tech will check the wiring and proper operation of the thermostat so you won’t have any problems in the dead of winter.
  • Replace the air filter. Unless you’ve already replaced it, the technician will install a new air filter so the furnace gets proper air flow.
  • Check electrical connections. Loose or broken wires can wreak havoc in your furnace. The problems may not surface right away. Having the wiring checked by a professional each year will help avoid furnace breakdowns in the dead of winter.
  • Make sure the system controls and safety circuits work properly. Controls and safety circuits keep your furnace working properly to avoid a house fire or the buildup of dangerous carbon monoxide. Keep your household safe by having the system checked by a professional every year.
  • Check and lubricate the blower motor if necessary. Lubricating the blower motor will keep it working smoothly and efficiently. Proper lubrication will also help the blower motor last longer.
  • Inspect gas line connections and burner operation. Leaking gas line connections can cause a fire and improper flames can emit carbon monoxide. Having the system checked by a Sears Technician will help keep your home safe.

Schedule your fall furnace tune-up now to help ensure that your heating system works flawlessly and safely all winter long.

How to Know When it’s Time for a New Furnace

Eventually, your furnace will begin to wear out. Most furnaces last 10 to 15 years. They can last longer with regular professional maintenance.

Here are common signs that tell you it’s time to replace your furnace:

  • Frequent breakdowns. Numerous failures of your furnace system when it’s over 10 years old typically indicate that it’s time to buy a new furnace. As parts wear out in the heating system, frequently replacing failed components can become more expensive that replacing the entire furnace.
  • Rising energy bills. When your heating bills steadily increase, your furnace may be losing efficiency, which can be a sign that it’s time for a replacement.
  • Decreased heating performance. When your furnace struggles to heat your home as it once did, it may be a sign that your aging heating system needs replacing.
  • Strange noises. Unusual noises such as banging, rattling, or squealing coming from your furnace can indicate mechanical problems that may warrant replacement.

Image of Sears HVAC consultant helping a customer

When your heating system wears out, trust Sears Home Services to help you replace it. Schedule a free visit with a Sears HVAC consultant to begin your furnace replacement process.

We’ve been helping keep homes safe and comfortable for over 100 years. You can trust our experts to help take care of your house so you can enjoy your home.

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