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Should I Shut Down My Furnace for the Summer?

sunshine-iconYou’re probably happy to read this headline, because it means summer is getting closer and you’re that much nearer to not needing your home’s furnace at all. (At least until toward the end of the year.) But when the warmer weather settles in and the furnace won’t have to run, should you shut the system down entirely?

The answer depends on the type of furnace installed in your house. The main reason to shut down a furnace for the season is to avoid energy waste or possible safety hazards, and this isn’t the same for all furnaces.

The electric furnace

If you use an electric furnace, there’s no need to shut it down because it won’t use any power over the summer. In fact, the only way to shut down an electric furnace is to turn off the circuit breaker to the unit—but this is also the circuit breaker for the air conditioner and the blower! Shutting off the electric furnace means you won’t have any cooling. All you have to do to stop using the furnace for the season is … to stop using it!

The natural gas furnace

Older natural gas furnaces (ten years old or more) usually have a standing pilot light to ignite the burners. If your furnace has a burning blue flame on at all times, this is the standing pilot light. It consumes gas when it’s on, so it wastes energy through long periods when the furnace doesn’t have to work. We recommend you shut off the pilot light. Beside the pilot light assembly, you’ll see a small valve. Turn the valve 90° and the pilot light will shut off.

Now there are some other steps to take with your gas furnace (even if it doesn’t have a standing pilot light but instead uses electronic ignition).

  • Clear out the area around the furnace. Furnaces are often housed in garages, basements, or closets—areas where people like to store things. You don’t want piles of boxes or other items too close to the furnace because it can help the system gather extra dust and dirt over the summer. A clear area also makes it easier to access the air conditioner’s cabinet.
  • Change the HVAC filter. The last month or so of work the furnace has done has probably led to a clogged up filter. Change it for a new one so the AC gets a great start to its year.
  • Walk around the rooms of your house and inspect all the vent openings. See that they are completely open and unblocked. Clean them off if they’re dusty, since this will help with efficiency and prevent dust from getting into the return vents.

Something else important to remember: don’t shut down a furnace if it has a malfunction. Arrange to get it fixed—lingering problems can mean a much more expensive repair in the future. No matter the time of year, call us for heating repair in Westfield, NJ if your furnace isn’t working correctly.

Air Creations, Inc.—“We Do It Right!” since 1987. Call today for late-season heating or early season air conditioning service.

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