Did you know that October is National Energy Awareness Month? Fall is the perfect time of year to be thinking more critically about your energy usage as we transition from warm summer days to crisp winter weather. Maximizing your household’s energy efficiency will not only help to conserve our nation’s energy resources, but also save you money on your next electric bill!
As the weather cools down over the next several months, more and more households throughout Fort Worth will be turning on their furnaces to keep cozy and warm. After months of dormancy, it’s a great idea to inspect your furnace to make sure it’s operating as efficiently as possible.
Today, the HVAC service experts at Arthur Hagar are sharing five tips for inspecting your furnace this fall. Read on to learn how to identify problems that will negatively affect your energy usage and when you should think about calling an HVAC repair technician for backup.
1. Make Sure Your Furnace is Unobstructed
Most folks know that there should never be any furniture or debris too close to the furnace system, since objects that are left too close can quickly become a fire hazard. They can also cause the system to run less efficiently.
If you haven’t used your furnace since last season, then check to make sure that no debris has accumulated and no furniture has been moved in front of vents during the spring and summer months. You should have unobstructed access to the system, especially the furnace itself.
Once you’ve made sure that your furnace has plenty of breathing room, then you can move on with your at-home inspection.
2. Check Out the Vents
The first component that you can easily inspect as a homeowner is your furnace’s ventilation and ductwork systems. Check for any holes, cracks, corrosion, or other damage that may have occurred during the summer, and ensure that duct covers are clean and properly secured.
You can also check to see if any foreign objects or other debris have somehow made their way into the vents. Of course, unless you are very small and not claustrophobic, you won’t be able to visually inspect every inch of your ducts. Not to worry — you’ll probably be able to smell whether they are clear as soon as you turn the heating system on for the first time.
3. Smell-Check Your System
In a previous blog, we wrote about “6 Smells From Your Heater and What They Mean.” You can check that post out for more detailed information, but we will summarize the relevant points for Fort Worth households that are heated by furnaces.
If you turn on your furnace for the first time for the season and smell:
- Burning dust smell: The strange and distinctive “hot” smell of burning dust is both common and normal. If your heating system went unused over the summer, dust may have accumulated inside the ducts, and the first time you turn on the furnace and blast that dust with hot air, you’ll be able to smell it burning. We recommend opening your windows the first time you turn on your furnace in order to keep your home aired out and prevent the smell from lingering.
- Rotten eggs or sulphur smell: Yikes! If you have a gas furnace and notice a rotten egg smell after turning it on, then immediately turn off the system, get out of the house, and call the fire department or an HVAC technician for prompt furnace maintenance. You may be dealing with a dangerous gas leak.
- Burning plastic or rubber smell: If you smell burning plastic or rubber, then you’ve probably got a foreign object somewhere in your duct system that is being melted or burned. If you can’t find the source of this smell, we recommend turning off the furnace and scheduling furnace repair so that a qualified technician can flush out the system.
- Oily or smoky smell: If you use an oil furnace and notice that it smells like an outdoor grill or fireplace when you turn it on, then there’s probably an oil leak somewhere. This usually isn’t dangerous, but you should still contact a heating repair technician to take a look and make sure that your system is operating at maximum capacity.
- Gunpowder, fish, or electrical burning smell: Any of these odors can indicate that there is a failed component or that something is overheating somewhere in the heating system. It can be difficult to isolate the problem behind smells like this, so it’s probably best to call in a professional for thorough furnace maintenance and repair.
4. Visually Scan the Panel Controls
If you aren’t a professional HVAC technician, then you likely won’t know exactly what you’re looking at when you open your furnace’s control panel. However, you can still perform a general visual inspection to check for loose connections, corrosion, and any parts that look damaged.
If anything looks suspect, or you’d prefer to have a more in-depth inspection, then contact a heating technician like the professionals at Arthur Hagar to analyze your furnace’s control panel.
5. Check Your Carbon Monoxide Detectors
Before running your furnace this fall and winter, it’s important to check your home’s carbon monoxide and smoke detectors to make sure that they are fully operational. Replace the batteries and test the alarms if possible.
You should have at least one carbon monoxide detector and smoke alarm on every floor of your home, and it’s best to have one in every bedroom as well. If your garage is attached to your home, then consider installing alarms there as well — especially since it’s one of the more likely places for carbon monoxide poisoning to occur.
Schedule Fall Furnace Maintenance With Arthur Hagar
You may notice that we kept our inspection tips pretty surface-level for this post, and that’s because it’s always best to have a qualified professional perform thorough furnace maintenance once every year. If it’s time for your annual checkup, or you need to schedule furnace repair or replacement, then contact us today to schedule your at-home appointment in Fort Worth! Our heating technicians can help you make the most of your system so that it operates at peak capacity all winter long.
Contact us online or by phone today to get your furnace ready for winter!