I read this article on Angie’s List and found it to be effective.
For many parts to the country, when the weather cools down in the fall, it’s time to fire up your furnace. But after sitting dormant for several months out of the year, you shouldn’t just turn the furnace on and start using it again. Parts malfunction and dust piles up, which could lead to mechanical issues. Don’t wait until the last minute when it’s cold outside and you need heat the most. Start your furnace early in the season, which will allow you to seek out professional help in the event you come across major mechanical issues.
1. Get annual maintenance performed
No matter what kind of furnace system your home uses, it’s always a good idea to get your furnace checked annually by a licensed HVAC technician. Getting this annual maintenance performed before you absolutely need your home heating will help ensure your furnace will work properly and efficiently when needed.
2. Check your air filter
Your air filter should be cleaned or replaced before you turn your furnace on. If you have small children, pets or an older furnace, you should change your filters monthly.
If you haven’t changed your HVAC system’s air filter in while, make sure you clean or replace it before turning your furnace on. In general, air filters should be changed at least once a month to ensure unrestricted and clean air flow to HVAC air components.
3. Remove nearby obstructions
The area around your furnace should always be clear of obstructions that can impede its efficient operation or put your home at risk for fire. Check and make sure the furnace is clear of any obstructions and any flammable materials before turning it on .
4. Check your registers and vents
Make sure that the registers in individual rooms and areas are free from obstruction as well. In most cases, registers should be moved to the open position – even in unused rooms – to ensure maximum overall efficiency for your heating system.
5. Check monoxide alarms:
Carbon monoxide is dangerous gas that can easily build up without occupants noticing the odorless, tasteless gas. If you haven’t done recently, check and change the batteries in your home’s carbon monoxide alarms before turning on the furnace for the season. It’s also a good time to change the batteries in the thermostat and smoke detectors.
6. Last step
Once you’ve performed the previous steps, turn on your furnace at your thermostat. Let it run to make sure that it’s heating your home properly.