10 Things to Do Before Turning the Heat on for the First Time in Winter

Posted June 20, 2022 by in Lifestyle

Winter is coming.

You need to do several things before turning heat on for first time in winter in your house. No matter how cozy your blankets are, ensure that your HVAC system is ready to go when winter arrives.

After a couple of seasons have passed, your heating systems might be leaking or too dusty to turn on. If not taken care of before the winter season, this has safety and health risks.

Doing a thorough check-up requires time and a basic understanding of how your heating system works. If you’re not familiar with how your heating system works, or don’t feel comfortable making adjustments yourself, consider contacting the experienced technicians at Anderson Air.

Here are ten things to do before turning heat on for first time in winter:

1. Replace Air Filters

The U.S Department of Energy considers replacing air filters as one of the essential tasks to ensure efficient cooling and heating. Depending on your home location and the type of air filters installed in your house, replacement periods are expected between one to three months.

Each air filter has a Minimum Efficiency Rating Value (MERV) which rates how efficiently your filter traps airborne particles. On a scale of 1-16, the higher the rating, the more efficient your air filter. If the currently installed filter is reusable, clean it according to the manufacturer’s recommendations.

2. Clean the Chimney and Vents in the Home

Before turning on heat for first time in winter, ensure all connected vents are cleared of debris and other issues (like small animals) in the ventilation system. You should also check for any soot buildup in the ducts that causes chimney system corrosion.

Cleaning the chimney vents before turning on the heating system in the house reduces fire risks in cases of an accident.

3. Do a Practice Run

Before you start turning your heating system on as the winter season unfolds, you want to run a practice test. Furnaces require a bit of head-start to get used to heating when every system goes live.

The pros recommend scheduling a practice run some time before the frigid winter weather hits. Turn it on and off periodically. If you happen to hear any weird noises or smell an unwanted odor, you should turn it off and call your local HVAC professional to come and identify the source of the sounds and odors.

4. Prepare Your Home

Failing to prepare your home before the winter season results in high electric bills due to too much heat loss. Ensuring both windows and doors are sealed for the season can help you save a significant amount on your energy bills during the winter months.

You can cut your heating costs by 15% by updating your home insulation. Other benefits to insulating your house before winter include:

  • Low chances of ice buildup on the roof
  • Reduced noise from outside
  • Better in-house humidity control 

Other overlooked areas are the gutters and drainage systems when preparing your home for winter. Ensure the gutters are cleared of any trees, leaves, or dirt because if they overflow, ice will clog on the house’s exterior, lowering the temperatures in the home or increasing electric bills.

As for cleaning the drainage system, ensure the soil is settled, and the snow downpours get directed away from the house. 

5. Slowly Transition to a Warm Temperature

When temperatures start dropping, slowly turn off your AC. Do this without putting heat on until the AC is cold. Then gradually turn the furnace on, raising the temperatures according to your desired comfort level.

For those homes with smart thermostat systems, you can automate your heating system from your phone. Suppose you plan to be away from home during the winter season. In that case, HVAC professionals recommend setting a temperature not lower than 55 degrees Fahrenheit to reduce the risks of frozen pipes.

6. Check and Oil the Furnace Blower

A furnace blower motor forces warm air from the furnace to all rooms in the house. After several months of being dormant, the blower motor needs oil lubrication to run smoothly during the cold season.

Here are steps to oiling the furnace blower motor:

  • Turn off circuit breakers that supply the furnace with power and test the non-contact circuit breaker if the power is off.
  • Using a screwdriver, remove the furnace access panel and set it aside
  • Locate the blower motor and unscrew it carefully, pulling the motor assembly from the furnace
  • Visually locate the oil ports on the blower motor. There are generally two or three and labeled depending on the manufacturer.
  • Reading from the details on the oil ports, add some oil droplets to the blower motor.

Reverse steps one to four to reattach the furnace blower motor.

Active the furnace at the thermostat and run the system in its normal cycle.

7. Check Your Carbon Monoxide Alarm

Carbon monoxide is an odorless and lethal gas that can endanger your family. If your carbon monoxide alarm was installed a while ago in your house, you might need to get a new one. And since the winter season takes a couple of months, you want to ensure the alarm is correct and working.

8. Clean Furnace Burners

Cleaning your burners should be part of your furnace maintenance checklist. Debris, dust, and dirt accumulate on the furnace burner tubes if they stay without use. DIY cleaning of furnace burners is only recommended for gas and propane-fueled tubes, but oil furnaces require professionals.

9. Uncover Heating Vents

Since last winter, you may have rearranged your house furniture and covered some heating vents. Before turning heat on first time in winter, make sure all the vents in the house are clean and ensure they are ready for the coming winter season.

10. Hire a Professional

Following this list of things you need to do to prepare for winter is one way of caring for your furnace. However, unless you have prior experience, you may not do the work at a professional level. So, it’s generally recommended that you hire an HVAC professional before turning heat on for first time in winter to ensure the safety of your loved ones during winter is well prepared.

As the winter season approaches, you want to get your home ready for the cold. Before turning your HVAC system on, ensure the above things are tested, repaired, and ready to heat your home during the season.