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5 Ways to Prepare Your Furnace for a Portland Winter

Portland winters can be an unpredictable beast. Some years, you might have a drizzle that doesn’t pause until spring. Others, you’ll find yourself hunkered down at home after a blanket of snow is dumped on the metro area. Performing fall furnace maintenance before the weather gets ghastly will ensure your home feels comfortable throughout the season regardless of the conditions outside.

Portland’s Infamous Winter Weather pexels-photo-432361

The amount of rainfall the Portland metro area receives annually isn’t as remarkable as the number of days it drizzles. With 164 days of rain per year, it’s one of the wettest—and consequently greenest—cities in the country.

During the fall and winter, it’s common to have grey clouds and pouring rain one minute, and sunny skies the next. In general, the area has about four months of rainy weather, four months of sunshine and showers, and four months of dry weather. The majority of the rain falls between November and February.

Snowfall in the Portland area is a curiosity. A community with a 500-foot elevation or lower might receive a few inches of snow, while its neighbor might get half a foot thanks to the area’s multitude of microclimates. Snow is usually a temporary event, as the fat flakes rarely stick to the ground for long. Every few years, however, a significant amount cumulates, turning the city into a winter wonderland.

Because of the unpredictability of Portland’s weather, experts recommend scheduling HVAC maintenance during the fall to avoid unpleasant, expensive surprises in the winter.

Fall Furnace Maintenance

  1. Replace the air filter: Stock up on furnace filters and replace the filter in your furnace every month. Filters help keep the components within the equipment free of debris and ensure the unit works optimally. A dirty filter not only increases the risk of damage, it also hinders air flow and makes the furnace work harder than necessary, which will increase your power bill. Additionally, air filters can traps allergens, and replacing them can promote healthy indoor air quality.
  2. Housekeeping: Clear the area around the furnace to reduce the risk of a fire. The room your furnace is in should be free of clutter to ensure the equipment has proper air flow. Avoid hanging anything from the unit. Keep cleaning products stored in the same room in airtight containers. Never store anything combustible at low flash points (i.e., paint thinner, pain and gasoline) in the same room as the furnace. If you have a cat, do not place the litter box in the same room as the furnace because the ammonia fumes will corrode the furnace’s heat exchanger and waft the odor throughout your home.Inspect your home for items blocking the registers, or vents, such as furniture, books or boxes. Blocking the flow of air will cause the furnace to heat your house unevenly and work harder than necessary.

    If you have a gas furnace, now is a good time to have the gas company replenish your supply.

  3. Winterize your home: The tighter your home’s building envelope is, the less the furnace has to work to maintain comfortable temperatures as there are fewer air leaks and energy transfers. Homeowners can take the following steps to winterize their homes:
    • Sealing holes and cracks on exterior and interior walls
    • Upgrading to double- or triple-pane windows, installing low-emissivity window films, or hanging heavy curtains over windows
    • Installing gasket covers behind receptacle and light switch plates along exterior walls to reduce drafts
    • Sealing gaps around windows and doors with weather stripping and door sweeps
  4. Visual inspection: Before firing up the furnace, test the smoke and carbon monoxide detectors in your home. Replace their batteries now if you didn’t do so in the spring. Inspect your furnace for signs of damage, corrosion and pest activity. If the furnace is damaged, do not turn it on.When you turn on the furnace, look at its flame. It should look crisp and bright blue. If the flames are red, orange or inconsistent in color, turn off the unit and schedule furnace service.

    It is also a good idea to double-check your thermostat to ensure it has the correct settings and temperatures.

  5. Schedule annual maintenance: Keep your furnace in top shape with annual HVAC maintenance. During your appointment, a specialist will clean the components within the furnace and ensure they work properly. They will also make small adjustments to improve the efficiency and operation of the equipment. Additionally, a tune-up and inspection may reveal minor issues that could turn into expensive headaches if left unaddressed.

During the busy winter months, one of the last things you want to do is find yourself without heat on the coldest days of the year. Take the changing leaves as your cue to contact AAA Heating & Cooling to schedule a furnace service and inspection. We’ll make sure your furnace activates and performs the way you expect the first day you turn it on. Make an appointment today.