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Cleaning your furnace might not sound like the most engaging activity. But the benefits are clear. With regular cleaning, you can improve your air quality, heighten your furnace’s efficiency, and reduce overall costs.

Why does this matter? Well, the average cost of replacing a furnace is $3,817, and some units can set you back as much as $6,290. By cleaning your furnace, you’ll help prolong its life so that you don’t have to spend that crazy amount of money. You can also save on the costs associated with a company cleaning your furnace by learning how to clean a furnace yourself.

Are you wondering, “how do I clean my furnace myself?” Don’t worry; we’ve got you covered. Cold Factor, heating experts with more than a decade of HVAC experience, has provided furnace maintenance tips, including steps on how to clean furnace coils and burners.

What Maintenance Should I Do On My Furnace?

Furnace maintenance is essential for keeping your furnace efficient. What do you need to know about furnace maintenance? You need to consider each of these processes.

  • Burner and cleaning and inspection
  • Gas pressure adjusting
  • Air filter change
  • Electrical connection tightening
  • Ignition system testing
  • Motor bearing lubrication
  • Voltage check
  • Fan belt tension check
  • Heat exchanger inspection
  • Gas and oil line connection check
  • System control test
  • Carbon monoxide level check
  • Thermostat calibration
  • Condensate drain inspection and clearing
  • Interior and exterior furnace cleaning

How Do I Clean My Furnace Myself: Step by Step Guide

It’s vital to take precautions before cleaning a furnace. First, turn “OFF” your electrical or gas power! Then, wait an hour or until the furnace has cooled down before you move forward.

Now, let’s dive into our cleaning list.

1. Remove the Burner Cover

Your combustion chamber door should be attached to your furnace with two screws. Unscrew if you have to, lift and pull out the door. Burner covers should be visible if you have one, and they are typically easy to remove.

2. Check the Burner Flames

Turn the power switch on and turn up your thermostat to view the burner flames.  Remember, don’t breathe on the flames. They should look even and blue, in which case you can move to the next step.

If the flames are yellow, the burners are dirty. In this case, your best bet is to call an HVAC technician. We don’t recommend that you adjust the burners yourself.

Once you’re finished inspecting the flames, turn off the power switch again or shut off the gas.

3. How to Clean Furnace Burners: Use a Vacuum Hose to Clean the Burner and Cavities

Vacuum the base of the furnace base, as well as the burners. Take a 20-inch,  ½-inch drain line and tape it to your hose to reach the back of the burners.

Try to suck in any dust that you see. Use a flashlight to see any black-looking dust or soot. Vacuum the blower compartment as well.

4. How to Clean Furnace Coils: Inspect the Wires and Coils

How is it possible to thoroughly clean furnace coils? First, inspect them around the blower wheel. Then, if the coils are dusty, use a hand towel to wipe them clean.

If you notice any loose terminals, use a screwdriver to tighten them. Meanwhile, we recommend contacting a heating professional if you see any damage to the wires as it is not safe to replace them yourself.

5. Take Out the Blower

Here, you’ll prepare to clean your blower. If you see a control panel before the blower, loosen it to reach the blower. After that, use a 7/16-in socket and ratchet to unbolt the blower and remove it.

6. Clean the Blower Blades

Use a small brush and vacuum hose to clean the blower blades. Be gentle and avoid meddling with the wiring or blade counterweights.

7. Replace the Air Filter

While we recommend regular furnace cleaning once a year, you should change your air filter more frequently. Therefore, we recommend replacing your filter every month or so.

8. How to Clean Furnace Ignitor

New furnaces might have a hot surface or electric ignitor. If you have an older furnace, you might have a pilot instead. Regardless, use a thin drinking straw to blow off any dust. We don’t recommend touching the ignitor, as they’re pretty delicate.

9. Clean the Flame Sensor

You might notice some residue on your flame sensor. This residue might stop your furnace from lighting, so it’s essential to remove the sensor from the bracket and wipe the residue up with a cloth. After wiping, put the sensor back in place.

10. Examine the Drive Belt

If you have belt-driven blowers, they might need to be adjusted or even replaced. Simply inspect the belts by looking for cracks and fraying areas.

11. Lube Up Bearings

Bearings on an old furnace might become stiff, so you should wipe down the oil caps and remove them. Then, add a couple of drops of lightweight machine oil to the bearings, and replace the caps. A little goes a long way, so applying two or three drops will suffice!

12. For Furnaces with Air Conditioning Ducts: Adjust Dampers

Some furnace heating ducts also work as air conditioning ducts. If so, the ducts might have some dampers that you should adjust each season. The dampers usually have seasonal settings and handles to make the adjustment seamless.

Turn the handle to the winter setting to send out more warm air. Alternatively, tuning it to the summer setting emits cold air.

13. Seal Leaky Ducts

Leaky ducts can make your furnace inefficient. To seal them, use a high-temp silicone or metal tape. Then, turn on the burners by adjusting the thermostat. You can conduct a backdraft test to ensure gases go up the flue. Assess if it’s working by holding a lit incense stick close to the hood. The ducts pass the test if the hood draws in the incense smoke!

Do You Need to Clean Your Furnace Every Year?

We recommend you clean your furnace once per year. While you could hypothetically get away with waiting a little bit longer, regular cleaning is in your best interest.

It doesn’t take long. It’s worth investing three hours of your entire year in maintaining your furnace’s efficiency and cleanliness.

How Much Does It Cost to Clean Your Furnace?

If you hire a professional, a furnace check-up and cleaning can cost you anywhere between $100 to $300. However, you’ll benefit from significant savings if you learn to clean a furnace yourself.

All you need to do is purchase a couple of cloths, a vacuum hose, screwdrivers, a drain line, and tape. You might already have some of these items at home. Even if you don’t have the materials, they aren’t too expensive.

Despite the savings you get by cleaning your furnace yourself, you can look into furnace maintenance plans that bundle a few check-ups per year. But whatever you do, don’t skip out on conducting annual furnace maintenance.

After all, cleaning your furnace is one of the best ways to improve your indoor air quality, keep warm in the winter, and prolong the life of your system.