Your trusty furnace kept your home warm throughout the entire winter season. However, after several months of prolonged use, various components of your furnace have sustained severe wear. To ensure your furnace's components operate safely next winter, and to allow your air conditioner to operate efficiently in the spring and summer seasons, perform or arrange for these two maintenance tasks:
Blower Compartment Cleaning
Your air filter has trapped and retained a large amount of the airborne debris that floats throughout your home. However, dust, dirt, and even pet fur will manage to slip through the pores of your air filter and settle inside your blower compartment.
Your blower compartment is the small part of your furnace between your return duct and combustion chamber. When this compartment is filled with debris that slips through your filter, it will significantly reduce the airflow through your entire HVAC system—which means your air conditioner won't operate efficiently due to restricted airflow.
Inside your blower compartment is your blower assembly. Your blower assembly is a large centrifugal fan that relies on a fan wheel to create airflow. However, when the blades of your fan wheel are covered in a thick layer of debris, the volume of air that can pass through the blades is significantly reduced.
Luckily, you can clean your blower compartment by yourself in just a few hours with a few basic tools.
Cleaning Your Blower Assembly:
Shut off the power to your furnace and disconnect the electrical wiring between your blower motor and HVAC system. These wires are typically connected by wire nuts or quick-connect clips, but older blowers may be soldered. If your wires are soldered, you'll have to use a soldering pencil to heat the solder and break the electrical connections. Once the wiring is removed, unscrew the mounting fasteners and pull your blower out of its compartment.
Use a ratchet and socket to remove the deflector plate covering your fan wheel. Unscrew the mounting bolts securing your motor to your assembly and take note of the concave and convex sides of your fan wheel. Remove the hub nut from the shaft passing through your fan wheel and set your blower motor to the side. Pull your fan wheel out of your blower and wash its blades with your garden hose. If debris remains on your wheel's blades after being washed, then use a metal brush to remove it.
Place your fan wheel back inside your blower with the concave and convex sides in their original orientations. Slide the shaft of your motor back through your wheel and reinstall the mounting bolts and hub nut. Reinstall your deflector plate and place your blower back inside its compartment before tightening the mounting fasteners. Reconnect any electrical wiring before restoring power to your system.
Heat Exchanger Inspection
Your heat exchanger is a large, metal structure that ventilates the fumes produced by your burners out of your home. If your furnace is more than a few years old, then your heat exchanger can develop metal fatigue after a long winter. When your exchanger becomes fatigued, it can develop cracks that leak carbon monoxide into your home.
Carbon monoxide poisoning is a serious threat to you and your household members. For this reason, you must be extremely thorough while inspecting your exchanger.
Inspecting Your Heat Exchanger:
Remove the access door to your combustion chamber and shine a powerful, flexible flashlight inside each of the tubes of your exchanger. While your flashlight is inside each of your exchanger tubes, maneuver an inspection mirror around the exterior surfaces of your tube to look for light leakage. If necessary, bend the handle of your light to guide it through the entirety of your exchanger tubes.
If any light leaks through one of your exchanger tubes, then have the crack professionally repaired by an HVAC technician before you use your furnace once again.
Cleaning your blower compartment after the winter season will allow you to have a fully functional blower that's ready to work in tandem with your air conditioner throughout the spring and summer seasons. Inspecting your heat exchanger will give you time to repair or replace your furnace before you'll need to rely on it for warmth next winter. If you have trouble cleaning your blower or inspecting your exchanger, then hire a heating service to perform the job for you.