Owning a house is similar to giving birth. You are handed something of great value, are expected to take care of it for the rest of its life and, yet, you often have no idea what you are doing. While babies do not come with instruction manuals, houses, luckily, do. There are still so many things to look after, inspect, and maintain, from the roof to the foundation, and everything in between. Your home's mechanical systems -- heating, plumbing, electrical -- are expensive items to replace. It is extremely important for homeowners to keep a watchful eye on them. Your furnace is rather easy to keep healthy with a few simple tips.
1. Change Filter: Filters, like diapers, need to be changed much more often than newbies think. In fact, a disposable furnace filter needs to be replaced every month that your furnace is running. The easiest way to do this is to be six or more at a time and store them near your furnace. Get in the habit of switching out the dirty one on the first of every month. You can also purchase a reusable filter. This type needs to be rinsed off with plain water once a month to remove dust, pollen, and dander before re-installing.
2. Visual Inspection: As you change the filter, take a good look at your furnace. Get to know it. Your furnace was inspected by a professional at your home inspection before you bought your home and should be in suitable working order. If you examine it once a month, you will notice when something is suddenly different, like a loose wire or a puddle of water.
3. Read the Manual: Although most owner's manuals are dry, technical texts, reading it is still important. Not only will it tell you what the various parts of your furnace are and how they should work, it will also help you troubleshoot problems with your furnace should they arise in the future. Take a break on a Sunday afternoon with a cup of coffee and just read it.
4. Keep the Area Free from Debris: As your owner's manual probably tells you, the area around your furnace should be free from debris. Your furnace has a pilot light that can ignite flammable items, like old paint and newspapers. If your home doesn't already, tape off a three foot perimeter on the floor around your furnace to prevent anyone from storing items too closely.
5. Programmable Thermostat: A programmable thermostat is an inexpensive upgrade for your home, and one that will save you money over time. You can purchase a programmable thermostat at any home improvement store and install it in a short period of time. The key is to program the unit to turn your furnace down at night, when you are sleeping, as well as during the day when no one is home.
6. Carbon Monoxide Detector: Another quick install can save your life. A carbon monoxide detector warns your family against any harmful carbon monoxide emitting from your furnace. It is an odorless gas that can kill you while you sleep.
7. Annual Inspection: Last, but not least, schedule an annual inspection with your local heating and cooling professionals before you turn your furnace on each season. Their trained eyes may catch a minor furnace repair before it becomes a major inconvenience. They can also catch anything that you may have missed during your regular maintenance inspections.
Owning a home is a big responsibility. As a homeowner, it is your job to inspect, maintain, repair, and replace items in your home. If you read the manual and change the furnace filter monthly, you are on your way to raising a healthy furnace.