What Should I Know About Furnace Cleaning?

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  • Written By: Margo Upson
  • Edited By: Bronwyn Harris
  • Last Modified Date: 07 October 2019
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Built-up dirt and grime can be a lead to a less efficient furnace, with the furnace needing to burn more fuel to create the same amount of heat. Furnace cleaning isn’t difficult, and only takes a few supplies: a screwdriver, a vacuum, a new filter, and some dry rags. Before beginning, however, there are a few things that you should know.

A furnace works in a very simple way. Cold air is brought into the furnace, and sent through the filter. After that, the air is heated up, and then sent up through the flue and into the home through a series of ducts. Any dust, mold, or other contaminants in the furnace system are carried through this heated air and into a home, where it can be breathed in by the people that live there. A clean furnace will send clean air into the household.

When furnace cleaning, it is important to not forget any of the three main furnace parts. This includes the blower, the motor, and the filter system. This should be done at least once a year, before the start of the heating season. If the filter looks excessively dirty, it should be changed. The furnace filter should be changed annually and as often as once a month during regular use.


Before starting any furnace cleaning, the furnace should be turned off. The gas supply should also be shut off for furnaces that use natural gas for heating. All surfaces of the furnace should be wiped down with a clean rag. A vacuum cleaner can be used to get the insides of the furnace or any tight or hard to reach areas. Remove the filter for cleaning or replacement. The blower should be right behind the filter and should be cleaned out as much as possible. If the blades can be removed, take them out and wipe them clean before re-inserting them.

Use the vacuum to get any loose debris along the base of the furnace and from around the burners. While the furnace is open, check for any wear and tear on the fan belts. If the belts look dry, glazed, or are cracked, or if they are loose, they may need to be replaced. The bearings of older furnaces should be oiled with a non-detergent motor oil.

Furnace air ducts should be cleaned thoroughly once every couple years. It is almost impossible to clean furnace air ducts without professional equipment, so most people have to hire a company to come in and do this job for them. Families that suffer from allergies should have this done yearly, because mold and mildew can grow inside ducts.

Once the furnace has been thoroughly cleaned, close it back up and turn both the power and the gas back on. The pilot light may need to be relit before the furnace will run. By keeping these simple tips in mind, it is possible to have a clean, well-running furnace. An annual furnace cleaning can cut down on both heating costs and allergy problems, making it worth the time and effort that goes into it.


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Keeping your furnace clean will also help reduce the chances of CO (Carbon Monoxide) buildup. This odorless, colorless, tasteless gas is extremely toxic and inhaling it can result in death. Lack of maintenance can cause CO to leak into your home. It's highly recommended that you clean your furnace once a year.

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