Your home furnace is one of those comfort systems you probably don’t think about much— until you wake up with cold feet! But as we’ll cover in today’s Homeowner Hack, taking a few moments to give your furnace the TLC it deserves throughout the winter can prevent a much more costly and uncomfortable repair down the road.

These simple tips are easy enough for even amateur home handypersons to complete. But as with any Homeowner Hack, if you’re not confident working on your comfort system or you have questions about your specific equipment, Burton’s furnace repair team here in Omaha is always just one call away!

Want to keep your furnace running at peak performance when the cold winds blow? Here are 4 things you should clean, inspect, or replace throughout the winter:

1. Replace: Furnace filters

Changing your furnace filters regularly is essential to prolonging the life of your system. A clogged filter not only forces your unit to work longer and harder than it should, it reduces the output of your furnace, leaving your rooms uncomfortable. And this hack can literally pay for itself— saving you $$ on your energy bills and repair costs over time.

Swapping out your furnace filters is an easy process any homeowner can do on their own:
1. Turn off your furnace
2. Locate your air filter access (usually in front of or above your furnace)
3. Carefully slide out the old filters, watching out for any sharp metal wires that may be protruding from the filter
4. Look for the arrow or text to signal which direction to insert.
5. Slide the new filters into place and reinstall the filter cover

Burton Bonus Tip: Set a reminder on your phone or mark your calendar with the date your filters need to be replaced again.

As a rule of thumb, the width of your air filter is equal to how many months that filter will last. For example, if you install a 1”-thick filter, replace it once per month.

When you call Burton, we’ll even deliver a one-year supply of the filters your unit uses straight to your doorstep, saving you the hassle of searching online or wandering around your hardware store.

2. Replace: Thermostat batteries

If your thermostat is not hard-wired into your home’s electrical system, then it is battery-operated, requiring a bit of extra attention. It’s time to replace these batteries if you notice a blinking battery light, your thermostat screen begins to dim, or the unit just won’t turn on.

We recommend proactively replacing your thermostat’s batteries once a year, either at the start of A/C season or the beginning of furnace season. That protects your home from heating or cooling issues that may arise if the batteries die while you’re out for the day or away on vacation— when your home is most at risk of a serious temperature swing.

3. Clean: Furnace flame sensor

Your furnace flame sensor is a small rod that looks a bit like an Allen wrench. This L-shaped rod is found just inside your furnace, near the top of the unit. When your furnace is running, it sits directly in line with the flame of your furnace when the gas is ignited. Over time, deposits collect on this sensor, blocking its ability to determine whether your furnace is lit or off. If you’ve got a dirty sensor, your unit may turn on and off quickly and repeatedly or may not turn on at all.

Cleaning this flame sensor annually prevents it from misreading signals from your unit. Here’s how to clean it:
1. Turn off your furnace using the toggle switch found on your unit
2. If you have a gas furnace, turn the gas off to your unit
3. Remove the front panel of your furnace
4. Locate the furnace flame sensor, held in place by a wire and hex bolt
5. Unscrew the bolt to pull the sensor out
6. Use a soft cloth to wipe the sensor clean
7. Replace the sensor, bolt, and furnace panels
8. Restore gas and power to your unit and ensure it turns on

4. Inspect: Exhaust vents

Just above your furnace you’ll find two large pipes leading into your wall, ceiling, or chimney. These are your intake and exhaust vents.

Periodically check these exhaust vents to make sure they’re firmly attached to your unit and that no air is escaping into your closet, garage, or basement. Watch for water stains around your vents or an odor in the area. If you notice either symptom, call a local furnace repair service right away, as a leaking exhaust vent can allow carbon monoxide into your home.

Notice a concerning noise or smell coming from your furnace? Just call the furnace repair team at Burton!

Here in Omaha, a faulty furnace can go from being a minor inconvenience to a major home emergency quickly. That’s why the sooner you call to schedule your repair, the better! When you request service, don’t forget to ask about our seasonal specials. At Burton, keeping your home comfortable is our top priority.