Whether you use a high-tech vacuum or let a robot do the work for you, cleaning a home has never been easier. But one place that still requires special attention and a bit of elbow grease is your gas furnace.
Dust and dirt can be two of a furnace’s worst enemies. Small particles can prevent parts from moving smoothly or block important sensors. Regular maintenance and cleaning are important for maximizing the furnace’s performance and energy-efficiency, preventing system failures, and extending the unit’s service life.
Areas of a furnace to clean
- Exterior surface and interior cabinet – Use a damp rag to wipe down the exterior surface. Next, open the door to access the inside of the unit. Using a wet/dry shop vacuum and a narrow attachment, carefully vacuum the bottom and any flat surfaces inside the furnace. If you notice any soot laying around, it could be a sign of a bigger problem – and you should contact an HVAC professional.
- Air filter – The air filter should be located in a compartment attached to or near the main furnace cabinet. Pull out the old filter and replace it with a new one. It’s a good idea to write down the date on the side of the filter to help you remember to replace this critical feature on a regular basis.
- Blower – Using a small brush and your vacuum, carefully clean off the blower. This is a sensitive part, so avoid putting too much pressure on the fan blades and wiring.
- Pilot or hot surface igniter – Your gas furnace will have one of these components toward the bottom of the unit. Be very careful not to touch the pilot or the ignitor. Instead, use a straw to gently blow any dust off the part.
- Flame sensor – When the flame sensor is dirty, it can prevent the furnace from running. Gently wipe the sensor with a fine Emery cloth to remove any dust or dirt.
- Oil caps – Remove the oil caps to make it easier to clean them. If you feel comfortable, apply two or three drops of lubricating oil to the blower motor and shaft bearing.
- Drive belt – You don’t have to clean the belt but give it a quick visual inspection. If you see signs of cracking or fraying, you’ll want to replace the belt before it snaps and causes the furnace to shut down.
When to call an HVAC professional
As you can tell, cleaning a furnace is an extensive and complex job. If you use the wrong material or apply too much force to any of the sensitive parts, you could end up doing more harm than good. Unless you’re very handy and familiar with the inner-workings of HVAC equipment, we recommend scheduling a professional furnace tune-up and cleaning appointment with All American Plumbing, Heating & Air.