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Keep old man winter at bay

Published On: Dec 12 2012 10:04:09 AM CST
Updated On: Dec 21 2012 02:46:20 PM CST
replacing furnace filter

iStock / JaniceRichard

(NewsUSA) - When the air turns crisp and the trees start to shed their leaves, you know winter is not too far around the corner. Before the temperatures start to drop, you may want to address commonly overlooked home winterization projects to ensure that you and your family stay warm and comfortable this season.

One of the most overlooked -- yet most essential -- items in your home is the furnace, and there are some simple steps you can take to avoid being left in the cold. According to Lori Boyce, manager of heating and indoor air quality products for Carrier's Residential Systems, it is important to perform a visual inspection of the furnace before it begins its heating cycle. Boyce recommends homeowners begin by inspecting the furnace exterior and area around the unit. The surrounding area should be kept clear of clutter or debris.

Next, Boyce recommends checking to see if the air filter needs to be changed. It is recommended that you replace your filter quarterly or semi-annually. "A clean filter is important to keep your furnace operating efficiently," says Boyce. "A local Carrier dealer can provide you with a high-quality replacement filter, or you can clean reusable filters at home using cold water."

Set your thermostat to heat in order to confirm that the furnace cycles from start-up through shut-down normally. Check to make sure air is blowing from the small grates in each room.

If a furnace fails to start up during a system check, make sure the thermostat is set to "heat" and that the furnace door is properly in place. There is a safety switch on many furnace doors that "pops out" when the door is removed. If this is the case, properly close or position the door, and repeat the system check. If the furnace still fails to start-up, call your local heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) professional.

Even if you regularly check to make sure your HVAC equipment is operating efficiently, it is a good idea to schedule seasonal check-ups with an HVAC professional.

"A properly working furnace is essential for most people during colder months, but there are other steps homeowners should take to maximize the heat in their homes," added Boyce. "Installing storm windows, adding extra insulation in the attic or walls, and replacing weather stripping on windows and doors are all dependable ways to keep your family comfortable during the winter season."

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