No matter how exposed or 'used to' these Canadian Winters we get, every time February and March come we're all just sick of the slipping, sliding, shoveling, and other nuances of the cold months. “Think Spring” is a common sentiment but it's much more than the thoughts of birds chirping and flowers growing. Once your furnace has gone toe to toe with Winter and survived yet another battle, it's important to formulate a good maintenance plan so it'll be ready when the temperature starts dropping again next season.
Remove / Replace Air Filter
Although some people might prefer to wait until the fall to replace their furnace air filter, there's nothing wrong with doing it at the end of a brutal winter cycle. Replacing the filter often serves a two-fold effect – it enables adequate air flow out of the furnace and it ensures that pure, quality air is being pumped through the home.
Inspect Duct Work
In the Spring when the weather warms up serves as a great time to inspect the furnace duct work that is located in cooler areas like an unfinished basement or attic. Visually inspecting seams that have come apart or repairing damage to other areas of the ducts can help reduce heating bills next Winter. Plus in the Spring you have more time for an HVAC repair crew to come to your home before (hopefully) the furnace is needed again.
Dirt is the furnace's worst enemy, especially if the unit is stored in a basement or an out of the way utility room. In order to maximize the efficiency of the device a good Spring cleaning regimen should be developed. A panel can easily be removed to allow access to the blower housing and a can of compressed air and a vacuum can be used to spray and clean the blower, motor, and other moving parts within.
Belt Adjustment / Replacement
The belts should also be inspected after a hard working Winter as they may have to be readjusted or replaced altogether if wear is too bad. Excessive wear is noticeable in the form of a frayed belt with rough edges and weak spots. Remove the belt and take it with you to a hardware store to ensure you get the correct size of replacement. Put the new belt on and locate the adjustment bolt. A perfectly tensioned belt will flex only about ¾ of an inch when pressed so move the bolt accordingly between the motor and blower drum until the precise flex is achieved.
Some furnaces are permanently lubricated but if yours has oil ports it will need to be hit with oil annually. It's important to only put two or three drops in the port to prevent over-lubricating and use a non-detergent type oil.
Ease the Furnace's Job
The last step in Spring furnace maintenance is to take a load off your furnace for the next heating season. If this means bringing in a contractor over the summer to seal up cracks near windows or in siding then it is an expense that is well worth undertaking. Any spot on the house that lets warm air out and cold air in is just putting that much more pressure on your furnace...not to mention increasing your utility bills.