DIY Furnace and Fireplace Checklist

DIY Furnace and Fireplace Checklist

Not everything has to be left to the pros. Homeowners can take a few simple preventive maintenance steps themselves throughout the year to better safeguard their HVAC systems and fireplaces, improve energy efficiency and enhance indoor air quality.

Furnace and Ductwork Checklist

1. Replace your furnace filter when it appears dirty or at least once a month, or at intervals recommended by your technician. "Countless homeowners neglect even the simplest of measures," says Mike Clear, Memphis-based vice president of operations at American Home Shield. "Replacing the filter can not only add years of life to your furnace, but also clean up your air quality and reduce the number of potential allergens floating around your home."

2. Test your thermostat. If your furnace doesn't start up immediately upon adjusting it, it may require new batteries or need to be replaced. If it's a programmable model, take the time to set a schedule that keeps heat at a desired temperature, which can save a bundle on your energy bills.

3. Unblock your vents. There should be at least an inch or two of clearance in front of every air vent so that warm forced air can circulate properly and not overheat your furnace.

4. Schedule an annual professional inspection and cleaning earlier versus later. If they determine that something needs to be fixed, it's better to endure furnace downtime earlier in the season - not when it's freezing cold outside.

5. Inspect your ducts for problems. Remove your vent covers, clear out any debris you notice and can reach and smell for any strange odors, which may indicate pests present in the ductwork. If you can access and view ducts concealed in your attic or basement, examine them for loose fittings and air leaks.

Fireplace Checklist

1. Remove ash and residue regularly after each burn to keep your firebox tidy and safe.

2. Look for stains, leaks or dampness around your chimney, which could be a sign of a compromised flue liner or damaged flashing along the roof. If you notice these problems, consult a professional.

3. Perform an exterior evaluation of your chimney. Check for leaning, holes, cracks, masonry or metal damage and proper sealing. Hire an expert to resolve any of these problems.

4. Install a new or replace an old chimney cap. "As the seasons change and temperatures drop, animals will seek refuge inside the chimney. But a proper chimney cap will keep animals and debris from finding their way inside and also prevent fire hazards from occurring," says Tony Darrah, CEO and owner of Chimney and Wildlife Specialists in Dallas.

5. Consider waterproofing your chimney. "Most damage to fireplaces and chimneys is caused by water," Darrah adds. "During the winter months, moisture will freeze and can potentially cause bricks to crack."


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