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How To Effectively Prepare Your Furnace For A Cold Ottawa Winter

How To Effectively Prepare Your Furnace For A Cold Canadian Winter

Now is the time to start getting your furnace ready for winter. Heating systems are a vital part of home comfort throughout the icy snowy season, and the last thing you want is a broken furnace.

With that in mind, let’s get this essential appliance ready to warm your home when the cold weather hits Ottawa this year. Find out how to prepare your furnace for winter, step by step.

1. Get Furnace Maintenance

Our Number One Tip: Call a local HVAC company today for furnace service. Scheduling furnace maintenance and cleaning every year — or better yet, joining an HVAC protection plan — is a proactive way to ensure reliable home heating this winter. Annual tune-ups also make your heating system more energy-efficient, saving money on utility bills, and much less prone to a disastrous breakdown during the blizzard of the century.

Heads up: Annual maintenance by a trusted HVAC contractor may be required to keep your warranty valid. It also provides an opportunity to ask any furnace questions you might be wondering about.

2. Test Your Thermostat

Here’s a simple do-it-yourself test to check that your thermostat is working properly. Turn it to “Heat” and set it several degrees hotter than the current indoor temperature. (Of course, the best winter thermostat setting is normally much lower.) This may feel a little crazy in the midst of a fall heatwave… but bear with us.

See whether your furnace powers on after a few minutes. If so, great! Set back the thermostat to a more comfortable setting. If your furnace does not respond, look into thermostat replacement or repair.

3. Change Your Furnace Air Filter

Another easy DIY action to maximize performance: change the furnace’s filter (or clean it if you have a permanent filter). A best practice is to change the furnace filter every 3 months minimum, or more often if you see that the current filter is clogged up with dirt, dust, or pet hair. Replacing air filters will improve indoor air quality, increase energy efficiency, and enable your furnace to last longer.

4. Cover Your Air Conditioner

As soon as the warmer months are over and you’re finished using your air conditioner for the season, go out in your yard and cover the top of the condenser. In the autumn, this unit tends to fill up with falling leaves, seeds, and twigs, which can block the coil. A simple piece of plywood on the top only will allow moisture to escape on the sides of the unit. Do not cover the outdoor unit for heat pumps, since you will continue to use the appliance throughout the heating season.

5. Uncover Heating Vents

Inside your home, go through the rooms and check your heating vents. Ensure they are all fully open and none is covered by furniture, curtains, or other objects. This will ensure that the warmed air from your furnace will be able to circulate properly and prevent heat loss.

6. Inspect Carbon Monoxide Detector

Unless you’re heating with electricity (very uncommon in Ottawa), your furnace creates heat by burning fuel. A byproduct of this combustion process could be carbon monoxide — a lethal gas that is extremely difficult to detect. That’s why installing a carbon monoxide detector is so important. Inspect it regularly to make sure it is still functional.

7. Clean Heat Exchanger

Have your heat exchanger cleaned and inspected for any holes or cracks. A clogged or damaged heat exchanger won’t be able to do its job, which is keeping toxic furnace fumes (known as “flue gases”) from getting into the blower and, from there, circulating throughout your home.

If you suspect that you have a problem with your heat exchanger, don’t turn on your furnace until an HVAC professional has checked it out for safety and advised whether you should repair or replace the furnace. When the heat exchanger is seriously damaged, it usually means you’ll need a furnace replacement.

8. Clear Chimney

Some forced-air furnaces vent through the chimney. If yours is one of them, clearing the chimney every autumn is another crucial task. Clean out built-up soot and remove obstructions like animal nests to help prevent house fires once you start using your furnace — and your fireplace — this winter.

We’ll Help Keep You Warm

Ottawa Home Services are HVAC specialists right in your area—our trained technicians are skilled at furnace maintenance, furnace repair, and replacement. Call us for the heating service you need today!