5-Step Guide For Cleaning Your Home's Central Heating Unit

27 January 2015
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Keeping your home's central heating unit cleaned can not only extend it life, but also allow it to heat your home more efficiently. If you would like to do this task yourself, use the following five-step guide for cleaning your furnace.

Step 1:  Make Sure The Power Is Off

Before you begin, make sure the power to the unit is off. Since you will be working inside the furnace around the motor and fan, you do not want to risk being electrocuted or having the fan start accidentally.

While unplugging or turning off the power switch should be enough, you may want to take an extra step for your safety. Locate the circuit breaker in your breaker box to turn off all electricity feeding the unit.

Step 2:  Remove And Clean The Access Panel

Once the power has been cut, the next step is to remove and clean the access panel. This panel is located either on the front or side of the unit, depending on the model. There may be one or two screws that need to be removed, then lift and pull the panel off.

After you have removed the panel, use a vacuum cleaner with a brush attachment to remove any dust inside the panel and air vents. Then, wipe the panel with a mixture of a half gallon of hot water and a teaspoon of mild dish detergent.

Once the panel has been cleaned, set it aside to air dry and proceed to the next step

Step 3:  Vacuum The Outer Vents

Now that the panel has been removed and cleaned, the next step is to vacuum the outside vents. Using the brush attachment, vacuum the vents from the outside of the unit. Then, do the same from the inside.

If there is any stuck-on dust, use a wet rag with the same cleaning solution from step three to wipe it off. Once all of the vents have been cleaned, go on to the fourth step.

Step 4:  Vacuum Out The Furnace

This step involves carefully vacuuming all interior parts of the furnace. This includes cleaning around the motor, wires, outer fan casing, and interior hull. While you vacuum, be careful not to dislodge any of the working parts.

At this time, remove the air filter and vacuum the space. Even if the filter appears clean, throw it away because you have been stirring up dust and dirt that may have settled on it. 

Step 5:  Vacuum And Wipe Off The Blower's Fan Blades

The last step involves cleaning the blower's fan blades. Before putting away the vacuum cleaner, use it to remove the excess dust from the fan. Make sure you get both sides of the blades.

Once you have finished vacuuming the fan blades, use the same soapy water from steps two and three to wipe them with a soft rag. Allow them to air dry for half an hour before plugging in and turning on the furnace.

After wiping off the blades, inspect the blower wheel. If you find excess dust and dirt, it should be cleaned. To do this, however, you will need to remove the wheel casing. You can either do this yourself or contact a professional HVAC service to do this step.

Once you have finished, insert a new air filter and replace the access panel.

Performing these cleaning steps twice a year will keep your furnace running efficiently. However, if you do not feel comfortable cleaning the interior of the unit, you may want to contact a heating and air conditioning service to do a thorough cleaning for you.