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Learn How to Clean Your Furnace

If there is one thing that is going to negatively affect your furnace, it’s dirt. When it builds up, it lowers the furnace’s efficiency and wastes fuel. If you’re looking to save yourself from yet another unnecessarily high bill for something that you could fix, then it’s time to learn how to clean your furnace. It is a three-part job and broken down into sections below: the filter system, the blower, and the motor.

A Few Notes on Filters

First, let’s discuss the reasons why your air filter should be considered a vital component of the whole unit. The air filter is what allows you to breathe freely and deeply inside your home or business. It’s working to remove dust and pollution particles, in addition to hair, dander, lint, or other small debris.

A filter should be cleaned (or replaced) at the start of the heating season and then about monthly or so after that. If you live in a really dusty area, then it may need attention more often. You can double-check the state of the filter by holding it up to the light. If it looks like it’s clogged, then it’s time to put in a new one, even if you’ve only had it for a couple of weeks. (Be sure to note the size and type on your trip out to get a new one.)

The filter will need to be removed for the first part of the cleaning.

How To Clean Your Filtration System

  1. Find the access panel on your furnace. It’s under the return-air duct and between another duct and the blower system. More often than not, the filter will be found on the inside of the front of the furnace. It’s possible you’ll have to unscrew a panel on the front that will allow you access to the filter. Before doing this, however, make sure the filter doesn’t have its own specific door for easy access.
  2. Pull the filter down and off the tracks. A filter should come out easily, so finagle with it a little if there’s resistance, but don’t yank it out, as that might break or damage both the filter and the fixtures that keep it in place. Sometimes, there may be a buildup of dust prohibiting it from sliding out easily.
  3. As mentioned above, look at the amount of dirt and debris and see if the filter is damaged. For the sake of the furnace and its potential for efficiency, replace a dirty filter right away.
  4. Put the new filter back in. If your filter isn’t disposable and needs to be cleaned, make sure that the filter is completely dry before placing it back in the furnace. A damp filter could cause mold or mildew growth.

How To Clean the Blower Component

  1. Start by confirming that all power connections have been unplugged and that all power switches have been turned to off. This includes the backup battery and potentially a backup generator power source.
  2. Remove the front panel of the furnace if it’s not already removed. To be able to thoroughly clean the entire blower assembly, you should remove the whole of the front panel. Removing the panel likely means unscrewing the screws that hold the panel door in place.
  3. Remove the fan unit from the furnace. More often than not, fans are kept in place by a track, so you may be able to slide the piece out. If there are wires connecting anything, make a mental note or take a photo of where each wire should go when reassembling it.
  4. With a mixture of mild soap for cleaning the blower, get a small brush or toothbrush so you can clean the spaces in-between the fan blades and the blades themselves. This component needs to be cleaned thoroughly, as it pulls air in through the back of the furnace and blows air out when creating heat. This means that if it’s not clean, you’re likely forcing dirty air into your home.
  5. After the initial clean and wipe down of the blades and fan belt, a small, handheld vacuum might be best for getting the remaining dust particles. If you don’t have one, you can re-wipe the blades and fan with a clean, damp cloth.
  6. Replace the blower assembly back in the furnace. Verify that it’s completely dry before replacing it and returning all off switches back to on and plugging in the furnace again.

How To Clean the Motor

  1. Turn off the furnace and unplug all power connections. If you have a gas furnace, be sure to also turn off the gas.
  2. Clear and clean any dirt or debris off of the furnace. Use a small brush to remove some of the buildup on the chambers. Alternatively, a damp rag can be used to loosen the buildup.
  3. Use the thinnest attachment for your vacuum and really give the chambers of the heat exchanger block a good cleaning. The suction power of the vacuum will help pull off some of the buildup you previously loosened.
  4. Reattach any power connections and turn the furnace back on when you’re done cleaning it.

How To Heat Efficiently

Keeping regular with maintenance and cleanings, including replacing the filter about once a month, will keep your system running smoothly and efficiently. Even distribution of heat is important to make sure the whole space is comfortable. A furnace that has been taken care of can last for 15 to 30 years. One of the best ways to guarantee your system is working efficiently (and your air is healthy) is to check the filter every three to four weeks and replace it as needed.

For any questions or concerns about your furnace, call your local experts at Entek. We know heating and cooling maintenance and offer various services to keep you cool in the summer and warm in the winter.

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