When you think of winter, you hopefully think of a comfortable evening in your warm home. But sometimes winter decides not to go along with our plans, and we're stuck shivering in our own homes. You won't always be able to stop a blizzard from showing up, but you can prevent your HVAC system from being unprepared for winter. Nobody likes or deserves an unreliable furnace, which is why we prepared this checklist for getting your HVAC system ready for winter.

Five Ways to Prepare Your HVAC for a Winter Blast

1. Wrap up Your Outdoor Unit and Clear the Space Nearby

Since most HVAC systems have an outdoor condenser unit to release heat, you'll want to ensure that the area nearby is free of any yard debris. Clear 5 feet of space or so from any leaves or rocks. It's also a good idea to make sure it's covered up by a bit of tarp or similar material over the winter. This keeps ice and anything else from getting inside the condenser.

2. Wash or Replace the Air Filter

Always inspect and clean out your air filter, usually placed in your furnace's indoor air handler. Dust, pollen, animal dander and many other contaminants can steadily accumulate in the air filter. If it continues unchecked, your HVAC system can lose efficiency and possibly even become a fire hazard. A clear air filter helps air to flow easily, maintaining good ventilation and helping keep indoor air quality high. To secure the most benefit from your filter, make sure to clean or change it every couple of months or based on manufacturer instructions.

3. Clean the Blower

The blower is vital to your Lennox furnace, and as an integral component it can attract a lot of wear and tear. Cleaning it on occasion will help keep it in great shape. Vacuum the area near the blower and brush the blades with a microfiber cloth for more efficient airflow. If you’re hearing any unusual noises or aren't getting any circulation from the vents, call a professional technician to examine your blower.

4. Search for Gaps or Dents in Your Furnace

Make sure that your furnace has no visible damage on the inside or outside units. A hole in the air handler or damage to the condenser unit outside can play a role in all sorts of comfort problems, like heat leaking out before it makes it to your ductwork. If there is significant damage, consult your local technician at Struven Heating & Cooling about examining the system before the temperatures start dropping. This way you can avoid letting a small flaw in the system turn into a major problem.

5. Test Your Heating Before It Gets Too Cold

It's always practical to make sure your heating or cooling is working properly before the middle of winter. If you don't, your furnace could be unprepared for the first true drop in temperatures. Doing a test run of your heating can give you the opportunity to notice potential problems then and there, while they're still simpler to fix. This also removes any dust that may have gathered in the air ducts over the fall, getting rid of that burnt smell. When your furnace is in working condition, you can sled away from these HVAC worries.

A Well-Maintained Furnace Is a Great Way to Welcome Winter

Winter weather will be on the way before you know it. If you take the time to get your furnace prepared ahead of time, you can spend the all winter enjoying the holidays, having hot cocoa or spending time with your family inside a warm, cozy home. Be sure to follow the tips above to get your home prepped for next winter!