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You’ve likely already seen blustery cold weather this season where you live — that is, unless you live in an area that experiences mild winters without harsh wind, snow, and ice. If you are like most homeowners in areas that experience all four weather seasons, then you already know how important it is to make sure your heating system is working properly. 

An efficient, functioning furnace will keep your loved ones warm and toasty, even on days that feel like the coldest of the season. A well-functioning furnace can cycle on and off regularly, and won’t cost you a fortune on your monthly energy bills. So, how do you make sure your heater continues to operate as it should throughout the winter season without breaking down and leaving you in the cold? Here’s what you can do.

ALWAYS schedule annual furnace maintenance!

We can’t stress enough how important it is to keep up with yearly tune-up appointments for this vital home appliance. Even if you think your heating system is working fine without any issues, it’s still important to schedule maintenance to prevent a costly and untimely breakdown — one that could be due to issues not noticeable to you and your family.

During your heating maintenance appointment, the skilled and experienced technician sent to your home will inspect the working components inside the unit to be sure everything is clear of dust/debris and working properly. If a part appears to be worn out and in need of repair or replacement, this is a great opportunity for the technician to take care of the work needed before it results in a breakdown that could leave your family in a cold home.

Additionally, the technician will ensure that your home’s furnace is operating safely. This means that he or she will check for potential gas leaks (if your furnace operates on natural gas), and they will also check the wiring to be sure there are no signs of damage.

Replace your air filters routinely

One aspect of furnace maintenance that you can handle on your own without the assistance of a trained heating technician is changing your system’s air filter on a regular basis. Typically, this means that you should swap it out each month. However, you may need to replace it more often if you have pets in your home or individuals who smoke, as these things could potentially cause your filter to get dirty more quickly. If you aren’t sure what size replacement air filter you need, you can check your furnace’s owner’s manual or take a look at the existing filter to see what you had installed already.

Many homeowners don’t realize the importance of changing their filter regularly. However, this part of your heating (and cooling) system traps airborne pollutants before they get sent out through the ducts in your home. The filter traps pet hair, dirt, dust, and other contaminants that may be trying to circulate through the air. When you have a dirty filter, air passing through may pick up these pollutants and send them through the vents in your home. This could be harmful for individuals in your family who may suffer from respiratory problems, such as asthma.

A clogged filter also makes it difficult for your heating system to push warm air through your home. When this happens, your furnace has to work harder than it should to maintain the temperature set on your thermostat. This can result in higher energy bills each month, along with potential “cold spots.” Also, a furnace working overtime may experience premature wear and tear, and break down unexpectedly — leaving your family in the cold while you try and locate a heating professional to get the unit working again as quickly as possible.

Replace your furnace when necessary!

Most heating systems are expected to last 15–20 years. If your furnace is older than this, then it likely isn’t running as efficiently as a newer system. This means that it may not be able to heat all rooms and levels of your home as well as it once did. And it may also mean that you have higher energy bills caused by a furnace that is running more.

While it may seem like a huge upfront cost to get a new furnace installed, you can consider it an investment. The new heater will hopefully bring savings on your energy bills — plus, it’ll help to keep your family warm and comfortable.

Protect your furnace

It’s wise to protect your heating system in case of a breakdown. At American Water Resources, we offer an affordable Heating System Repair Program, which can help if your unit breaks down unexpectedly during the winter. When you’re enrolled and a covered repair is required, simply give us a call and we will handle the rest! We’ll send a trained, experienced professional from our network of service providers to diagnose and treat the problem as soon as possible.