Furnace Maintenance Tips To Save Money This Winter

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by Enoch Omololu


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If you have not had time all year to tune up your furnace, then fall is a good time to do so before the eventual arrival of winter.

The regular maintenance of your furnace will ensure you have heat when you need it, reduce your heating and repair bills, and prolong the life of your furnace.

While you may need a professional to repair your furnace, you can complete most maintenance tasks on your own without spending a penny.

Furnace Maintenance Checklist

Here are eight tasks you need to have on your furnace maintenance checklist to ensure your furnace does not disappoint this winter:

1. Conduct a Visual Inspection

Furnaces are typically in the basement and out of the sight of most homeowners. Maintenance time is a good time to inspect the furnace and check for any telltale signs of trouble or issues.

Some things you may observe that need further attention include signs of black soot, a condensate tube filled with algae, tubes not properly attached, rust, mainly yellow flames, etc.

Your observations may uncover minor issues that can be corrected easily or major issues that may need a specialist to look at.

Note: If you are going to be opening up the furnace cover to look inside, it’s a good idea to first turn off the electrical power and gas supply for your safety!

2. Change the Furnace Air Filter

Changing the air filter in your furnace regularly is one of the most important things you can do to keep it working efficiently. When the filter becomes plugged, the furnace has to work harder to get air moving.

Different filter types come with differing recommended replacement periods, for example, every 1 month, 3 months, or longer. A routinely changed filter can significantly reduce your energy bill by as much as 15%.

Newer thermostats have a reminder option that allows you to set a reminder that alerts you when it’s time to replace the air filter.

Furnace Maintenance Checklist
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3. Clean Warm Air Vents and Registers

Floor vents that bring up the warm air into your home may get clogged over time with dust, pet hair, food, and other debris. Remove floor registers and vacuum out the air ducts at least once a year to keep them clean.

Kids can remove registers and fill them with “stuff.” Check that toys are not stuffed down your registers and choking up your furnace.

Related: 10 Ways To Prepare Your Car for Winter

4. Check Cold Air Return Vents

Cold air return vents carry back cold air from your house to the furnace for reheating. They often get neglected and may even become blocked or covered as you move furniture around. They can also get dusty.

Vacuum cold-air return registers at least once a year and check that they are not closed off or blocked by other things.

5. Check the Intake and Exhaust Pipes

We can usually find the air intake and exhaust pipes for your furnace located outside your house. They may get plugged with ice, snow, leaves, critters, vegetation, or other debris.

Check them often to ensure that they are not blocked.

Related: 4 Ways To Pay Off Your Mortgage Faster

6. Vacuum Accumulated Dust in Furnace

After a few years of use, dust and dirt may accumulate in your furnace. A vacuum with a long nozzle can get rid of these unwanted visitors.

If you hire a professional to tune up your furnace annually, this is one task they have on their checklist.

7. Check the Main Air Ducts for Leakage

Check the main air ducts that leave your furnace and carry heated air to different parts of your home for leakage. You can easily seal leaks using foil tape or duct mastic.

This ensures you get the full benefit of the warm air leaving your furnace, reduce energy loss and lower your energy bill.

8. Check the Carbon Monoxide Detector

Although not part of your heating and cooling system, it makes sense to install a carbon monoxide detector close to where your furnace is located.

Carbon monoxide is a very toxic gas and because it’s odorless, you cannot depend on your senses to detect it. At the time of your furnace maintenance, test the detector to ensure it’s in good working order.

If you have a battery-operated carbon monoxide detector, consider replacing the batteries.

Related: Are Winter Tires Compulsory in Canada


It does not take a lot of time to carry out the simple maintenance tasks mentioned above.

When the cold season arrives, do not forget to turn off your air conditioner and protect it from harsh winter conditions. Having your AC come on in freezing weather can cause serious damage to the compressor.

8 Furnace Maintenance DIY Tasks To Save Money This Winter. These furnace maintenance tips will save you lots of money and keep your furnace working efficiently this winter. #furnacemaintenance #furnaceDIY #DIY #fall #Winter #heatingandcooling #house #savemoney

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Enoch Omololu

Enoch Omololu is a personal finance expert and a veterinarian. He has a master’s degree in Finance and Investment Management from the University of Aberdeen Business School (Scotland) and has completed several courses and certificates in finance, including the Canadian Securities Course. He also has an MSc. in Agricultural Economics from the University of Manitoba and a Doctor of Veterinary Medicine degree from the University of Ibadan. Enoch has a passion for helping others win with their personal finances and has been writing about money matters for over a decade. He has been featured or quoted in The Globe and Mail, Winnipeg Free Press, Wealthsimple, Financial Post, Toronto Star, CTV News, Canadian Securities Exchange, Credit Canada, National Post, CIBC, and many other personal finance publications.

His top investment tools include Wealthsimple and Questrade. He earns cash back on purchases using KOHO, monitors his credit score for free using Borrowell, and earns interest on savings through EQ Bank.

4 thoughts on “Furnace Maintenance Tips To Save Money This Winter”

  1. Nice list Enoch. I generally check our registers and clean them as well as change the furnace filters.
    I have a carbon alarm at furnace and change batterys whenever the fire alarms need changing. The others Im going to do a couple things you.mentioned. thanks

    • Thanks @PassiveCanadian. Yes, a little furnace maintenance can go a long way, and starting with filters/registers is the way to go!

  2. @Steve. Thanks. I have never used a heat pump…interesting to hear that they need the same regular maintenance required by a furnace.

  3. Enoch, I like your tip about checking the intake and exhaust pipes for things like ice, snow, leaves, critters, or anything else. I’ve never done this but it seems pretty important. My husband and I just did a major renovation in our kitchen this last summer. There was a lot of dust during the project. I’m worried that a lot of this stuff got into our HVAC system. I’m thinking about having it professionally cleaned. Having an experienced, licensed, and reputable professional do a cleaning and maybe a tune-up should extend the life of our furnace system.

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