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2 Tips for Maintaining your Gas Forced-air Furnace

2 Tips for Maintaining your Gas Forced-air Furnace

Last week I saw the weather forecast predict that the temperature was going to drop to 0 degrees Celsius.  So I turned on my furnace to make sure that it was working.  Thankfully, all was good.  Today, I put together two important tips for maintaining your home gas furnace.

Tip #1 – Have a licensed technician perform the annual check-up 

I have a furnace protection plan with Enercare that includes an annual service.  Prescreened qualified licensed technicians can be found through the Heating,Refrigeration and Air Conditioning Institute of Canada (HRAI) contractor locator website.

“The Heating, Refrigeration and Air Conditioning Institute of Canada (HRAI) requires its contractor members to carry relevant trade, fuel safety and applicable licenses as well as worker’s compensation and liability insurance. You may be surprised to learn that many contractors simply don’t bother with licensing or insurance. They may pass on lower costs to you up front, but you could end up paying much more over time, not only financially, but in terms of your family’s comfort, health, safety and peace of mind.” (from HRAI website)

The annual service should check and repair if necessary each of the following:

  • carbon monoxide (CO) levels
  • condition of the chimney and flue
  • condition of air filters
  • operation thermostat and safety controls
  • pilot light
  • motor and fan
  • bower operation
  • condition of the fan belt
  • burners
  • condition gas piping

Tip #2 – Change the air filters regularly

Changing your furnace filter is a do-it-yourself activity, don’t wait until your annual service! The main purpose of a furnace filter is to protect the blower fan from all the dust in the return air. A build up of dust on the fan blades, lowers the efficiency and shortens the life of the blower and motor.  More expensive filters also help improve indoor air quality by removing allergens and other particles.

The type of air filter I purchased suggests it lasts up to three months.  I have a dog that sheds and I have been renovating, so I actually need to change my furnace air filter every 2 months.

New air filter beside a used air filter

New air filter beside a used air filter

If you have never replaced your furnace filter before, the first step is to find its location.  My furnace filter is located in a discrete location where the return air duct meets the furnace.  If I did not know where to look, I never would have found it. Apparently for some models it is inside the furnace unit.

Once you have located your furnace filter, check and record its size. Furnace air filters come in a wide range of sizes so you will want this information when  go shopping.  There is also a wide range of types and prices of filters; ones that last up to one month, up to three months and cleanable versions. I picked the filter that removes pollen and pet dander because I have allergies and a dog.  I see on the package that there are now filters that can control odors and others that can filter bacteria and viruses.

Replacing the filter is as easy as one-two-three.

  1. Remove cover and filter.
  2. Replace filter – make sure that the arrow on the filter is in the same direction as the airflow (which should be pointing to the furnace since it is a return air line).
  3. Replace cover and date so that you will know when it is time to replace it again.
Sealed and Dated

Sealed and Dated

Note: Arrow Pointing to Furnace

Note: Arrow Pointing to Furnace


About Barbara Mossop

GR manager, facilitator, mining engineer, freelance technical writer and spreadsheet wizard, curious, environmentally conscious, mom and dog owner

One response »

  1. Hi Barb! Nice to read about as I am currently looking at options for furnaces in my house. We are replacing our whole system. We are actually looking into wood pellet furnace and boiler systems– already using a pellet stove in the second floor of our house as primary source of heat for the winter. A lot of work dragging pellets but is supposed to be energy efficient. My oldl boss has about 12 or so radiators lying around.. I’ll let you know what we decide! Might just end up with a good old gas-forced air furnace but i’m ambitious.



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