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Turning On Furnace For Winter: How To Prepare

Dec 16, 2022


Winter is waiting right around the corner, and we all know the best way to stay warm is by turning on your furnace for the winter.


Turning the heat on for the first time can be a bit daunting for first-time homeowners, but it can also be dangerous if you haven’t taken the necessary precautions to keep your unit in good shape. While CroppMetcalfe recommends a furnace checkup at the beginning of the colder seasons, we’ll still walk you through turning on your furnace for winter and getting your heating system ready for he weather.

1. Turn On the Thermostat

The first step in changing from cooling to heating is to raise the temperature on your thermostat by a few degrees. If you don’t hear the heat start up after a minute or two, take the cover off the thermostat to check the wire connections. If the wire connections are secure, make sure the HVAC system’s power supply is turned on.


If it still isn’t working, check the furnace fan, blower, or heat pump. If anything isn’t working properly, call a professional to come and handle your repairs.

2. Change Your Air Filters

You most likely have one or more air filters in the HVAC system itself or behind a vent grill in the wall or ceiling. It’s important to replace these filters every couple of months. If you have an electrostatic filter, you can clean and reuse that. 


Regular filter cleaning or replacement keeps debris out of your HVAC system and can extend its lifespan, making your furnace more efficient and able to keep your home warm. If your HVAC system has a humidifier, make sure to replace the humidifier filter and adjust the humidistat to the proper settings for winter.


Depending on the type of filters you use and the climate you live in, make it a practice to replace your filters every one to three months. A dry, dusty environment could require more filter maintenance than other places. Plus, if you have pets, you’ll need to replace your filters more often.

3. Ductwork Maintenance

You should make sure to check your ducts, or hire a professional technician to do so, before turning on the heat for the winter. Duct leaks are a common factor in homes struggling with inadequate heating. Damage such as holes, gaps, and other imperfections can waste heat, which can be frustrating and expensive.


Plan ahead and hire an HVAC contractor in the fall months to make sure your ducts are prepared for winter.

4. Clean Air Vents

Vents are infamous for collecting dust and debris, which limits airflow and worsens the quality of your indoor air. Make sure nothing is blocking any vent openings and use a moist cloth to clean out all apertures.

5. Cover the AC Condenser

If your HVAC system includes an AC condenser that sits outside, make sure to cover it during the winter to prevent damage from falling icicles or other season-specific hazards. You can come up with something DIY (like a large trash can lid fastened with bungee cords), or you can build something more permanent. You can cover the fan with a board or something similar, but avoid covering it with a plastic tarp. This can trap moisture, or become stuck in the unit.

6. Clean Your Heat Exchanger

Your furnace’s heat exchanger should be brushed and vacuumed annually for it to maintain its quality. This can be done by a trained professional who can also check to ensure your furnace is operating properly, and they can check for any dangerous carbon monoxide leaks.

7. Clean and Lubricate the Blower Motor

To see if your motor requires lubrication, first examine your owner’s manual. Check to see what your specific unit requires. If you’re running into problems with too little lubrication, stop using the furnace, open the cover, and clean the bearing caps. After that, take off the caps and grease the bearings. A trained professional can help with any furnace maintenance.

8. Test Your Igniter Switch

If you have an older furnace, you may need to relight the pilot. Electronic igniters are typically more common in newer systems. Push the reset button if the igniter isn’t functioning, and check your breaker if you still can’t solve the problem. If it still isn’t working, call in a professional for help.

9. Check All Carbon Monoxide Detectors

Including a carbon monoxide check in your maintenance routine can help prevent a disaster. You should have your carbon monoxide detectors inspected by a professional at least once a year. These systems can help protect you from an emergency carbon monoxide leak situation.

Schedule a Furnace Checkup

Scheduling a furnace checkup before turning on the heat for the first time in the winter can make a huge difference in the performance of your furnace. CroppMetcalfe provides air conditioning and heating repair services to the D.C., Maryland, and Northern Virginia area. Reach out today, and we can help keep your unit in the best shape possible, making your home comfortable and safe all winter long.


What Our Customers Say...

"I've been a CroppMetcalfe customer for 9 years and you have always provided outstanding service. I just had my semi-annual maintenance done, and I wanted to thank George for the truly outstanding service, professionalism, and excellent advice. He is definitely one of the best 5-Star Technicians I've had! Thank you CroppMetcalfe!"

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