Cleaning Your Wall Furnace

A man works on a furnace.
What You'll Need
Dry rags
Damp, lint-free cloth

Learning how to clean a wall furnace is essential to upkeep its efficiency. It is important to note that keeping a clean furnace not only avoids the burning of extra fuel for its proper functionality but it also keeps a clean and good standard for the heated air it produces. This is because furnaces function by sending cold air through the filter which is then heated and sent to the home through a series of ducts. Any built-up dirt in the furnace is carried by the heated air. Although this might sound like a lot of work, cleaning your furnace is really an easy task to perform which only needs very few supplies or tools.

When to Clean

It is essential to clean your furnace at least once a year – before the heating season. Moreover, furnace air ducts should be checked by professionals to avoid mold and mildew problems at least twice a month. If the filter looks extremely dirty it should be replaced by a new filter. You should take into consideration cleaning the filter on a regular monthly basis during the heating season.

Step 1 - Open the Furnace

Before attempting to clean the furnace make sure that electricity is turned off or in the case of natural gas furnaces, that the gas supply is shut for safety purposes. To be extra safe, cut off the power supply from the main circuit breaker as well. Open the service panel. Generally, this involves simply popping it open but at times a screwdriver is needed. All surfaces should be wiped with a dry rag and a vacuum cleaner could be used to get to the areas you cannot reach.

Step 2 - Clean the Filter

Locate the filter which is generally found in front of the blower or by the cold air return duct – the filter is a rectangular or square mesh with a cardboard, plastic, or metal frame used to keep the air clean. The next step is to remove the filter. This can be done by sliding or lifting it by hand. The filter is generally lightweight and shouldn’t be too hard to remove.

If the filter has a plastic or metal frame and the mesh is not too grimy, rinse it with water to remove the built-up dirt. Consider spraying some cleaning detergent onto the filter to clean it better. Before putting the filter back in place make sure it is completely dry. If the frame is made of cardboard, you have to get a replacement because these filters are disposable and cannot be washed. Such filters are generally not expensive and easy to find in home-improvement stores.

Step 3 - Clean the Blower

The next step is to clean the blower. Wipe it with a dry rag and if the blades can be removed, take them out and wipe them clean with a damp, lint-free cloth. Now use the vacuum cleaner to get rid of any debris or dirt off the base of the furnace or off the blower. Wipe the blades dry and put them back in place. You might also want to check if there are any torn or loose fan belts which may need replacement. Now you can re-insert the filter.

Step 4 - Finish Up

Now you can replace the service panel but before turning the furnace back on you would want to clean the outside of the furnace and its surroundings. Use a damp lint-free cloth to clean its outside and a vacuum to clean around it. You can switch on the furnace.

You should clean your wall furnace regularly in order to avoid bigger problems which may arise over time and continuous usage. It only takes a few moments to complete the task and this will help in keeping your furnace in good working order.