How to Prepare Your Furnace for Chicagoland Winters

How to Prepare Your Furnace for Chicagoland Winters

November 28, 2023

Winters in Chicago area are cold, long and harsh. For this reason, you want your heating system in top condition before the start of the season. Investing in regular upkeep can help you save money, keep your system running longer and ensure your home stays warm and cozy throughout the holidays. Here’s how to prepare your furnace for Chicagoland winters. 

Why You Should Prepare Your Furnace

Preparing your heater for winter can help you stay warm during the colder months while helping you save money heating your home. Regular upkeep can also help you avoid costly emergency repairs on colder nights. Here’s why you should invest in regular maintenance:

  • Safety: Inspecting your furnace before the season can help you identify any cracks in furnace lines to protect your home from dangerous oil, natural gas or propane leaks.
  • Save money: Preparing your heater for winter can prevent inconvenient malfunctions, higher energy bills and emergency repairs to help you save money in the long run.
  • Increase longevity: Regular furnace maintenance can increase its life span, ensuring your investment lasts as long as possible. Upkeep lets you enjoy a heated home for years to come without excessive repair costs. 
  • Prevent system failures: Preparing your heater for winter gives you an advantage during the colder months. As temperatures dip, you can ensure the system constantly runs at peak performance, so you never go without heat. 
  • Reduce energy use: Furnaces in good working conditions don’t use as much energy. Furnaces with broken parts and other issues work harder to meet energy goals, increasing overall power usage. 

8 Furnace Maintenance Tips for Winter

With a few easy steps, you can ensure your heater is in proper working condition for the colder months.

1. Replace Your Filters

HVAC filters can quickly collect dust, dirt, debris and other allergens — impacting your system’s performance and your home’s air quality. Changing your air filters is the easiest way to ensure your furnace’s longevity and performance, saving you up to 15% on your energy bill. Replacing the air filters before the temperatures drop can also help improve your home’s air quality, which is especially crucial for family members with allergies.

Air filters are easy and affordable to change, making it the easiest way to prepare your furnace for the colder months. 

2. Clean Your Furnace and Vents

Just as you regularly clean your home and car, make it a habit to clean your furnace, vents and ducts. A clean furnace will heat efficiently, keeping your energy bills low and your home warm. A regular deep clean can also ensure it works properly, preventing malfunctions and costly repairs. Start with your filter system, motor and blower and save other components for professionals. Technicians can clear vents for debris and blockages that can lead to carbon monoxide leaks.

Professionals can clear ductwork and surrounding insulation to boost your heating system’s efficiency. If you notice any cold or hot spots in your home from imbalanced airflow, this could indicate potential damage to the duct system. Schedule a yearly inspection before the cold months to ensure your heating system functions properly. 

Clean Your Furnace and Vents

3. Clear Your Chimney

If you have a wood-burning fireplace, you’ll want to clean the chimney prior to the winter to keep your home cozy during the colder months. Chimneys produce soot, which can block airflow and lead to fires. You should also clear your chimney of leaves, tree branches and other debris that could have made their way inside over the summer. To clear it safely, use a wire brush to scrub the inner walls from the fireplace or hire professionals to inspect the chimney from the roof. 

4. Cover the AC Condenser

For those with AC condensers rather than heat pumps, you’ll want to cover the condenser prior to the winter. You might use a board or a large lid and secure it with bungee cords to protect it from falling icicles, snowfall and freezing weather during Chicagoland’s coldest months. Just make sure you don’t wrap it in a moisture-trapping plastic tarp, as this can lead to rust, mold and corrosion. 

5. Monitor the Control Valve

Most furnaces feature a control valve for safety purposes. If you discover that your furnace isn’t heating, check that your control valve is on. On a gas furnace, the valve will be close to the supply line. Switch it to the “on” position so that gas can freely enter the furnace. This simple step ensures your furnace can consistently produce heat for your home throughout the winter. 

6. Test Smoke and Carbon Monoxide Detectors

While you should regularly check that your smoke and carbon monoxide detectors are working properly, it’s a good idea to check them again prior to the colder months. Heating systems emit hazardous substances when damaged or not working properly. Breathing in the smoke can lead to health issues, including throat irritation and coughing. 

At the same time, carbon monoxide poisoning can cause symptoms like nausea and weakness and even be fatal. Test your smoke and carbon monoxide detectors before turning up the thermostat to ensure they’re in proper working order. 

7. Test Your Thermostat

Before the temperatures drop, test your thermostat to make sure the heat works when you need it most. Set your HVAC system to heating and ensure the temperature is higher than the current room temperature. If your heat doesn’t kick on, you’ll have time to schedule professionals to troubleshoot it for you.

8. Schedule a Professional Tune-Up

Preparing your heater for winter is as simple as scheduling a tune-up with professionals like Perfect Home Services. Technicians can inspect your furnace prior to the colder months and ensure it produces plenty of heat for a cozy season. Plus, they can install new filters and identify potential issues before they become more significant, costly or dangerous. Regular inspections can include checking filters, burners, blowers, motors, wiring, switches and valves. 

Most importantly, professional furnace tune-ups can keep your furnace system running longer. Regular maintenance can help extend the life of your heating system and ensure all parts work properly and for much longer — meaning fewer repairs and costly replacements down the road. 

Professional Furnace Service in the Chicagoland Area

Following these furnace maintenance tips for winter can help you prepare for a comfortable and cozy holiday season. To make maintenance even easier, turn to Perfect Home Services. We’ve served clients throughout the Chicagoland area for over 30 years, providing regular maintenance, inspections, replacements and other crucial heating services

Book an appointment today to ensure you stay comfortable all winter! 

Professional Furnace Service in the Chicagoland Area