You Don't Have To Make The Same Mistakes

I always took my home's heating and cooling system for granted. That is until I found myself battling one of the hottest days in years and my air conditioner simply refused to turn on. After contacting my local HVAC contractor, I learned that my cooling coils had frozen over from a lack of maintenance. He did get my AC back up and running that day, but he also helped me to look at my heating and cooling system in a whole new light. I have spent a lot of time over the last few years learning more about how to properly maintain my HVAC system and ultimately lower my energy costs. Today, I would like to share this knowledge with you so that I can help you to avoid some of the costly mistakes I have made in the past.

HVAC Tips For Beginners: Clean Furnace's Blower Motor And Housing

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If you're worried about the condition of your old electric furnace, now is the time to inspect it before winter arrives. Older model furnaces may break down when you need them the most. You may help avoid this issue by cleaning your furnace's blower motor. The blower motor is essential for powering and transferring heat through your furnace in the winter. The furnace's housing may build up with dust and other contaminants over time. Read on to learn how to clean the blower motor and your furnace's housing.

The Blower Motor

The motor has a barrel or oblong shape. It also uses multiple, colorful wires to connect to the furnace's electrical parts. Keep this in mind for later, as you'll need to remember the exact colors and positions of the wires when you clean or replace the blower motor. If necessary, read over the owner's manual for your furnace to be sure you disconnect and reconnect the wires correctly.

Now, here's what you do:

  1. Disconnect the power source to your furnace by turning off the circuit breaker. If you have one on hand, use a wire tester to see if the furnace is completely off, then proceed to the next step if it's safe to do so.
  2. Remove the covering or paneling over the motor with an electric or manual screwdriver. The motor should be located near the bottom of the furnace and in clear view.
  3. Follow the instructions in your owner's manual to disconnect the wiring. Inspect the wires for signs of fraying, burning or other damages. Replace any wires that show these problems right away, or stop and call your HVAC specialist for assistance.
  4. Remove the blower motor, then carefully wipe it down with a soft, dry towel. Don't place water or any other liquid on the motor, as it may shock you once you reinstall the part.
  5. Vacuum or sweep out the area that houses the blower motor. Avoid touching any wiring and other parts in this location.
  6. Clean the blades of the motor's fan if you can reach them easily. The fans spin inside the motor as it circulates heated air.
  7. Apply lubricating oil to the motor. You may purchase non-detergent oil from a hardware store and place a few drops of it inside the ports or small openings on the motor.
  8. Reinstall the blower motor and reattach the wires based on their colors and positions.

If the blower motor is too large to handle alone, ask someone to help you remove and clean it. Sometimes, blower motors sit inside protective housings. If this is the case for yours, read your owner's manual to help you remove it successfully.

Things to Know

If you notice that the blower seems cracked, rusted or damaged, replace it immediately. But if you're uncertain as to where or how to replace the blower motor, call your heating specialist for a repair appointment. In most cases, the contractors may need to replace the furnace's start capacitor because it works along with the blower motor to transfer heat and power your appliance. 

The Housing

The housing of your furnace is the easiest part to clean before winter. However, it may be covered in grime, dust and cobwebs. You may remove these things by wiping the housing down with soapy, hot water and a utility cleaning brush made with soft to medium bristles. Harder bristles may damage the housing.

Dry the housing with a soft towel, or it may develop rust on the surface. Sweep the area around the furnace with a broom to keep it clean. If possible, use the vacuum to remove cobwebs from the ceiling above the furnace, as well as from the corners of the room.

For more information, speak to a heating contractor about your furnace, and be sure to call them as soon as you can. You don't want to wait until winter arrives before you do.

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9 July 2015