January 8, 2015 3:11 pm
Updated: January 8, 2015 3:12 pm

Tips to prevent a furnace breakdown this winter

Clearing snow and debris from outdoor vents will not only help keep your furnace running better, but is also good for safety reasons.

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TORONTO – Nationwide, millions of Canadians are dealing with temperatures well below average this week. Along with the frigid temperatures, furnaces are working overtime keeping homes warm. But what if your furnace stops working during a cold snap?

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Dave Walton, Director of Home Ideas at Direct Energy, said they saw a 24 per cent increase in service calls last year in Ontario alone when the temperature dropped below -15 C. A lot of these emergency calls could have been prevented if homeowners knew the warning signs, he said.

READ MORE: What you need to know about furnace filters

“Strange noises, frequent cycling, rust, leaks and trouble reaching the set temperature” are all early warnings a bigger problem could be coming Walton said.

“If you notice any of these signs, call a licensed technician to inspect the furnace before it completely shuts down.”

One of the most common issues in homes with furnace problems, Walton said, is blocked cold air return vents. These should have a clear space in front of them free from furniture and other items that prevent airflow.

Vacuuming out your air intake and warm air registers is a good habit to keep your furnace running longer, as is having your ducts professionally cleaned every few years.

“Dust, debris and pet hair can impact the efficiency of your ventilation system and cleaning your ducts can help ensure adequate heat is circulating throughout the house,” Walton said.

Changing your furnace filter every three months is highly recommended as it keeps your furnace working to its optimal performance and moves air around more freely. A blocked furnace filter could burn out your blower motor or cause other issues.

READ MORE: Make your home safer with these 5 tips

Clearing snow and debris from outdoor vents will not only help keep your furnace running better, but is also good for safety reasons. This also relates to chimneys, which critters can nest in, especially during temperature drops.

Walton said that improving your home’s insulation and sealing leaky windows is a good way at preventing your furnace from working too hard and will also cut down on your energy bills.

“Caulking one window that’s over 10 years old can save as much as five to 10 per cent in heating costs,” he said.

© 2015 Shaw Media

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