How to Clean a Forced Air Furnace

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Your forced-air furnace is one of the hardest working appliances in your home, even more so if you have central air conditioning. For this reason, it is critical that it be kept clean and in very good working condition. In fact, if it is not cleaned regularly, the buildup of dirt and dust can cause your furnace to work less efficiently, less effectively, and in some cases, can even be dangerous. Here are steps for cleaning a forced-air filter.

Things You'll Need

  • Screwdrivers
  • Vacuum cleaner
  • New air filter
  • Toothbrush or small brush
  • Rags
  • Turn off the thermostat in your home before you begin cleaning your furnace.

  • Clean and replace the filter regularly to keep your furnace running smoothly. This will help reduce the buildup of dirt on all the other parts of the unit. The filter should ideally be changed prior to the start of the heating season and even more often than that in homes that continually run their AC or heat. Replace the air filter with one of an identical size.

  • Remove the front panel of the furnace. In modern furnaces, removal of the front panel automatically kills the power to the unit, but turn off the electric switch to the furnace anyway, just to be safe.

  • Vacuum out the interior of the blower assembly, including the motor, the housing, the belts, the pulleys and the squirrel cage. The cleanliness of the squirrel cage is very important in how efficiently your furnace works. Some models can be pulled out by removing a number of screws, and this will make cleaning out the squirrel cage that much easier.

  • Use clean, dry rags to wipe everything down inside the blower assembly, including the walls. Once you are finished, be sure to vacuum up any remaining dust or residue.

  • Return the front panel to its position and turn the switch to the furnace back on.

  • Vacuum all of the air-intake vents in your home. This will help reduce the amount of dust that gets sucked into your furnace the next time it runs. Make it a habit to vacuum these vents every time you vacuum the rest of your house and you will notice a significant decrease in the amount of dust that accumulates on your furnace's air filter.

Tips & Warnings

  • Turn the power off to the furnace before working on it.

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