Winter can be the hardest time of year on your home’s HVAC system – it’s working hard to make sure you and your family stay warm, safe, and dry over the cold winter months. Now that February is here, it’s a great time to perform some routine checks and maintenance on your home heating system to ensure it continues to keep your family comfortable for the rest of the winter. Whether you have a propane heating system, natural gas heating system, or an electric heating system, the below checklists will keep your heat running efficiently for the remainder of the winter.
Propane Heating Systems
Propane heating systems are unique because propane is a highly efficient fuel source, and is environmentally friendly. Follow these tips when performing mid-winter maintenance on your propane heating system.
- Ensure You’re Signed up for an Automatic Delivery Program – Ideally, this is done before winter hits, and often has a fall deadline. If you did not sign up for a automatic delivery program, make sure you have propane to last through the second half of the winter.
- Mark Your Fill Cap – If you need a fill-up, head outside on a clear day to mark the fill cap for any underground tanks. If you’re in a snowy region, make sure the marker will stand out above the snow.
- Inspect the Burner Flames – Flames should be bright blue – any yellow flame is a sign of dust in the cavity.
- Check for Dust – If dust is present, turn off the propane and vacuum the interior of the blower and burner cavities. Ensure the power and gas are off first. Then, blow dust off of the pilot light and other surfaces you can’t easily reach.
- Ensure Filters are Current – Filters should be replaced every two to three months, so if yours is older, replace it now.
- Check Your Thermostats – Make sure thermostats are working and have fresh batteries.
- Examine Outdoor Vents – Inspect outside vents and clear debris, snow, and other obstructions.
Natural Gas Heating Systems
Natural gas and propane are fossil fuels, and both are safe, efficient ways of heating your home. In fact, natural gas is often a blend of propane and other gases. Natural gas is usually supplied via a line from a local gas company and does not require refilling. Use these tips when performing mid-winter maintenance on your natural gas heater.
- Check Burner Flames – After turning off power, inspect the burner flames. If they are yellow, rather than bright blue, there may be dust in the cavity.
- Get Rid of Dust – If dust is present, vacuum the cavity. Ensure the power and gas are in the off position and use an attachment to vacuum the blower and burner cavities of the furnace. Be sure to turn off the pilot light before blowing dust from the pilot light assembly.
- Inspect Filters – if your filter is over three months old, replace it immediately with a new one.
- Examine Thermostats – Ensure your thermostat is functioning properly and has up-to-date batteries.
- Clear Exterior Vents – Remove obstructions from all exterior vents, particularly snow and ice buildup.
Electric Heating Systems
If you use electric heat, you may be using nearly 50% of your winter electricity on your heating system. These tips will help maximize your electric heating efficiency and ensure your home stays comfortable this winter:
- Check All Thermostats – Inspect your thermostats and ensure they are working properly. Replace old batteries if needed.
- Eliminate Dust – Remove dust from the blower cavity of the furnace as well as the heating element using a vacuum with an attachment (if accessible) to suction out the dust - this may reduce the efficiency of your furnace. Also, remove dust from any baseboard heaters or floor vents with a vacuum.
- Clear Baseboard Heaters and Vents – Ensure any baseboard heaters or floor vents are not obstructed by household items, rugs, or other blockages.
- Inspect Your Furnace Filter – Ensure your furnace filter is clean or has been replaced within the past three months.
- Clean Your Humidifier – If your heater includes an attached humidifier, clean the humidifier pad with a 1:3 solution of vinegar or a calcium lime and rust remover. When replacing it, check for proper water levels.
No matter which type of heater you have, performing one of these mid-winter checks is a great way to make sure your home will remain cozy and comfortable for the rest of the winter months.