Oil Furnace Maintenance: Your DIY Guide
Reliable heat is a necessity during a long central Pennsylvania winter. If you use oil to heat your home, keeping your furnace working its best will ensure you stay warm when temperatures drop. Preventive oil furnace maintenance can greatly reduce the risk of a breakdown and save you the expense and hassle of emergency repairs. While some oil furnace maintenance requires a trained technician, much of it can be done by the homeowner.
To get you started, we’ve prepared a helpful oil furnace maintenance checklist, as well as some general tips about how to proceed.
DIY Oil Furnace Maintenance: Getting Started
Oil furnace maintenance isn’t something to be scared of. Even if you have no technical skills whatsoever, there are a few basic maintenance tasks you can perform that will help your furnace run more reliably and efficiently.
Before performing any work on your furnace, be sure to familiarize yourself with its basic controls. An oil furnace will have both a main power switch and a fuel shutoff valve. For most of the work you’ll be doing, you will want to have both of these turned off.
You should also be sure you know where your oil tank is located – checking its condition and ensuring enough fuel is on hand should be your next task following a DIY furnace maintenance and inspection.
Oil Furnace Maintenance Checklist
There are three main components to DIY oil furnace maintenance:
- Performing a thorough visual inspection. Look for signs of obvious physical damage – rust, dents, wear, etc. – as well as black soot buildup, which can indicate fuel contamination. Turn on the furnace and let it run for a few minutes. Listen for rattling, clanking or any other strange noises. If something seems off, contact a furnace repair professional.
- Cleaning the furnace and ducting. Turn off the furnace and close the gas line. Once it has cooled down, perform a thorough dusting of the unit’s exterior and wipe away any grime or dirt you notice. Remove soot and other loose materials from the combustion chamber and wipe it clean. Then, go through the house and vacuum out your floor vents.
- Changing the air filters. Air filters should be replaced at least once a year as part of routine oil furnace maintenance. Consult your owner’s manual for a detailed service schedule and information about obtaining replacement parts. If you have pets or family members with severe allergies, it may be necessary to replace the filter multiple times over the course of the season.
More ambitious homeowners can go deeper by checking and replacing their furnace’s fan belt and oil filter, lubricating the motor and blower components, cleaning the nozzle and hoses, checking the electrical components and performing a system efficiency test.
If there’s anything you’re uncertain about, don’t risk damaging your furnace – contact a home heating specialist to book a proper inspection.