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How to Clean and Maintain a Furnace

Your furnace is one of the most important components of your home. Without it, your home wouldn’t be nearly as comfortable; damage could even occur in the winter. Keeping your furnace clean with regular maintenance goes a long way toward preventing a major malfunction.

Aside from this aforementioned advantage, here are a few more reasons why every homeowner should make furnace cleaning and maintenance a top priority.

3 Major Advantages of Cleaning Your Furnace

More Efficient
The reason most homeowners put effort into furnace maintenance is improved efficiency. A clean furnace is going to run a lot better and use a lot less energy compared to a dirty furnace.

Longer Lifespan
A buildup of dirt and debris makes a furnace work harder. When the furnace has to continuously work harder, parts are going to wear out quicker. Consider furnace servicing an investment that will pay for itself later by extending the equipment’s lifespan.

Cleaner Air
A dirty furnace can result in dirty air inside the home. You may even notice dust reappearing soon after cleaning because dirty air is circulating back through the room. A clean furnace, on the other hand, is capable of purifying the air.

How Often Should a Furnace be Cleaned

Home maintenance is an ongoing process. There’s regular, routine maintenance, and then there’s unexpected, emergency maintenance that’s needed when the furnace fails.

Furnace experts agree that furnaces should be thoroughly cleaned once every 1 to 2 years. It mostly depends on the frequency of use and who lives in the home. Households with indoor pets and small children should get a furnace cleaning every 12 months.

Furnace Filter Replacement and Cleaning
Furnace filter maintenance is a crucial part of the cleaning process. You’ll need to replace the furnace filter at least every three months. During periods of frequent use, it’s best to clean or replace furnace filters every 1 to 2 months.

How to Clean a Furnace Properly Step-by-Step

Step 1 - Turn Off the Power and Gas

The furnace should never be cleaned while the power is still on. If the furnace is gas-powered, turn off the gas too. Remember, only the person who cut the power and gas should turn them back on.

Step 2 - Clean the Outside of the Furnace

It’s best to go ahead and clean the outside of the furnace and the surrounding area first. An ordinary vacuum with a brush attachment can handle the job. HOWEVER, don’t vacuum electrical components. Instead, use a duster on those areas.

Step 3 - Remove the Panel to Clean the Blower

The side panel can be removed to expose the blower. Use a damp, soapy towel to clean the blower blades. Finish with a clean damp cloth.

Step 4 - Inspect and Clean the Heat Exchanger

Next, give the heat exchanger a thorough inspection. Look for signs of wear, cracks, and corrosion. A stiff bristled brush can be used to clean the exchanger if it’s in good condition.

Step 5 - Change or Clean the Furnace Filter

The final step of the furnace cleaning process is to change or clean the furnace filter depending on the type of filter you have. If you are cleaning the filter, make sure to air dry it for at least a few hours.

Furnace Maintenance Tips

Furnace maintenance is something you’ll need to do for as long as you’re a homeowner. Make the task a little easier on yourself with these furnace maintenance tips.

Use the Best Furnace Filter That You Can

The primary purpose of a furnace filter is to keep the system clean of contaminants. A higher quality furnace filter from an original manufacturer will do a better job of keeping dirt, dust, and debris out of your equipment so less cleaning is needed.

Clean the Furnace After HVAC Servicing

Dirty ducts can have an impact on the furnace and the effectiveness of your cleaning. Ideally, you’ll want to clean the furnace after having the HVAC system serviced. That way the ducts are clean before you do any furnace maintenance.

Do a Furnace Checkup in Fall

You don’t want to experience a furnace failure in the middle of winter. Doing a furnace checkup and cleaning in the fall will help you prevent a breakdown at the worst possible time.

READ MORE: Types of Furnace Filters

Furnace Cleaning FAQ

Is it necessary to have a furnace cleaned?

Furnaces need regular maintenance just like any other piece of equipment. So, yes, the furnace does need to be cleaned regularly for it to perform as efficiently as possible. Regular cleaning also helps extend the life of your furnace.

How much does it cost to clean a furnace?

The average cost of a furnace cleaning service ranges from $60 to 300. The prices vary by location and the service inclusions.