As a chill fills the air, it’s time to turn our attention to the furnace, that hard-working gas/oil or boiler system that we could not do without. Here are a few simple tips to prepare for winter start up. After all, preventive maintenance could save you a costly furnace repair job.

Clean, clean, clean
Turn off the furnace and then remove the cover that hides the burner and inner workings. Using a light brush or a vacuum on a low setting scoop up all of the black particles, cobwebs and crap.

Clear out the room
Don’t use the furnace area as a storage space too. It needs to be tidy for optimal performance and anything flammable should be moved out of the way

Change the air filter 
To determine whether it’s time to change the filter, hold it up to a light bulb that’s on.  If you can see a clear outline of the bulb, your filter is still good.  If not, it’s time for a new one. If you have pets, or are a smoker, you’ll need to change the furnace filter more often.

Is the carbon monoxide detector working? 
Any unnecessarily high levels of carbon monoxide will set off your detector, which means the odourless gas is present in your home making it very dangerous. In such a case, get out and call for help.

Check the pilot light 
Make sure the pilot light is a deep blue colour, but if it is another color then it is not working properly.

Set your winter temperatures on your thermostat
Make it warmer for the times you are home and cooler for the times you are not. (But not too low or the water pipes in your house will freeze in winter.)

Walk and observe
Be sure there are no leaks or water pooling near the furnace and check chimney, ductwork, dampers, valves, radiators, registers and pipes throughout the house for leaks or any obstructions.

Where problems appear it’s best to call a professional. Schedule annual maintenance calls for peace-of-mind and to save money in the long run.