At Howard Air, we are happy to provide a few tips on the steps needed for an average homeowner to clean some parts of your home’s furnace.

We caution, though, that your home’s heating system is the complex, expensive, warm heart of your home. Do nothing you do not feel confident in, because a mistake could take days to remedy, and you don’t want to leave your family cold.

How to Clean a Furnace the Right Way

Most homeowners have the tools and skills to tackle five simple tasks. 

1. Safety First, Last, and Always

Howard Air - How to Clean a Furnace: Power

Before attempting anything with your furnace, turn off power to it to ensure you do not create an electrical short or get a nasty jolt. If you have a natural gas system, turn off the gas, too. 

“Safety Last” means the person who turned on the power is the only one to turn it back on. This way, the person cleaning has zero chance of being shocked. 

2. Clean the Furnace Outside and Surrounding Area

Howard Air - How to Clean a Furnace: Vacuum

The room in which your system operates should be clean. This includes the ductwork and pipes leading to and from your furnace. If you notice an unpleasant smell when you first turn the system on, chances are the dust accumulated on hot ducts is slowly burning off. 

Take an ordinary vacuum cleaner with its brush attachment, and carefully vacuum the tops of ducts, pipes, and electrical conduit leading to the unit. Vacuum the outside metal case of the furnace, too, including the top. 

Use a feather duster to lightly dust off any electrical connections you see, such as wiring panel on the outside of the furnace. Work gently to avoid dislodging a wire. 

Use the same vacuum to clean the floor around the furnace. 

3. Clean the Blower

Howard Air - How to Clean a Furnace: Blower

One metal panel in your heating plant will have either a built-in handle or a clear method of removal. This gives you (and the expert technicians from Howard Air) access to your furnace blower and heat exchanger. Remove the panel and make sure you have plenty of light to see inside. 

Many furnaces have blowers on sliding rails for easy servicing. Slide the blower out. You can rinse off the blower blades with warm, soapy water and a stiff brush. 

4. Clean the Heat Exchanger

Howard Air - How to Clean a Furnace: Heat Exchanger

The heat exchanger is the hot heart of your home. Use the back of your hand to ensure the exchanger is not too hot to work on, and visually inspect it for cracks or corrosion. Use a stiff brush to dust it off and remove any scale. Vacuum the area around the exchanger

5. Clean or Change the Filter

Howard Air - How to Clean a Furnace: Air Filter

The easiest part of cleaning a furnace is changing the disposable air filter, or cleaning the reusable one. Do not discard the old filter unless you have a new one ready to take its place. A dirty air filter can cause your furnace not to blow air.

Need Professional Help with Your Furnace?

If you are unsure about any steps, or uncomfortable performing them, contact the Phoenix area experts at Howard Air by calling (623) 201-5153 to set up a servicing appointment. We would be happy to relieve you of any furnace servicing.