Turn up the heat: 5 things to check before turning on your furnace

What homeowners should do before they turn the heat on this fall, according to Winnipeg's Larry Stefanec, owner of Parsons Plumbing and Heating.
Duct cleaning and a filter change will go a long way towards better air quality and a better working furnace, said Larry Stefanec, owner of Parsons Plumbing and Heating. (CBC Marketplace)

With temperatures taking a dip, it's time to face the big monster in the basement. Furnaces need a little attention before it's all systems go, says Larry Stefanec, owner of Parsons Plumbing and Heating.

Here are Stefanec's five things homeowners should do before the turning the heat on:

1. Test your thermostat and replace batteries

Before it gets really cold, turn up your thermostat and listen to make sure your boiler or furnace turns on. If you have a more modern thermostat, there's a good chance it's battery powered. He said thermostat batteries should be replaced about as often as your smoke and carbon monoxide detectors, every six months.

2. Clean your ducts

Keeping ducts free of dust and grime can go far in helping improve air quality. There are companies that do duct cleaning but Stefanec says homeowners can also do it themselves. "you're maintaining that efficiency," he said.

3. Change the filter

Stefanec suggested homeowners change their filters on a regular basis. If you have pets or if your house tends to be overly dusty, change the filter every three months. This along with clean ducts, clean filters can do a lot for air quality.

4. Inspect vents outside 

Especially if you have a high efficiency furnace, it's worth checking to make sure the intake and exhaust vents are clear from leaves, rodents and bird nests. Homeowners should be able to easily spot white PVC venting material on an exterior wall of their house. 

5. Get a professional to clean and inspect your furnace

In the fall, Stefanec's company gets a lot of calls for service checks and cleaning, but he said homeowners can get actually this work done any time of the year.
Larry Stefanec says homeowners should have a service professional, like this one in Ottawa, inspect their furnace once a year but it doesn't have to happen in the cold months. (CBC)
"Some people have this idea where they need to do it every fall," he said, "Just as long as it's on a yearly basis, that's what we recommend."


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