Tips to help your furnace keep you warm during severe cold

Your furnace is the most important appliance in your home over the next few very cold days.

What can you do to keep your furnace in working order during a cold snap? Here are a few tips from Rick Sheehan of Reliable Heating & Air Conditioning in Salem:

Set your thermostat for one temp and leave it — Sheehan said this is the biggest thing you can do to help your furnace in times of extreme cold. If you set your thermostat colder at night or program your thermostat to vary during the day, Sheehan said it is better to leave it on one temperature, say 68 degrees, all day. That’s because if the temp gets low at night, the furnace may have trouble recovering to your daytime temperature. “You lose ground and it will never recover,” Sheehan said. So just set a temp and hold it there.

Check exhaust pipes — High efficiency furnaces vent out PVC pipes. During snowy weather — like we have had in the last week — those vent pipes can get blocked with snow or ice. Check yours, Sheehan advised, and clear if they are blocked.

Check or change your filter — A dirty furnace filter makes it harder for your furnace to do its job. Check yours and change if it is dirty.

A crew from Reliable Heating and Air Conditioning work on a furnace.

Don’t use your stove for heating — Sheehan said people should not use a stove to heat a dwelling. However, it won’t hurt to warm up the kitchen a little by using your stove in its intended purpose, say to bake a pie or some cookies, Sheehan said. “Wednesday will be a good day to do some baking,” Sheehan said.

Open cabinets with concealed plumbing — Opening bathroom or kitchen cabinets with plumbing in them can help heat get to those pipes and keep them from freezing, Sheehan said.

But what if my furnace fails? — If you furnace appears to not be working at all, Sheehan advises checking the filter, vents and power supply. If none of those does the trick, call a qualified HVAC service professional.

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