How Do You Clean A Furnace? Essential Cleaning Tips & Tricks

Maintaining your furnace is crucial. Cleaning ensures efficient airflow and better indoor air quality. Neglecting this will impact its performance and make energy bills soar. Here’s how to clean it in simple steps:

  1. First, switch off the power to the furnace and remove any access panels.
  2. Take out the air filter and replace it with a new filter, or one that can be washed. Wipe the components and vacuum the areas around them.
  3. Clean the blower motor and fan blades at least once a year, using lightweight machine oil on the bearings. Clean the flame sensor with fine-grit sandpaper, or call a professional. Also, look for blockages in air ducts and vents, and clear them if present.
  4. Reassemble all parts following their order of sequence. Make sure the screws are secure. Place panels back and restore power before testing.
  5. To keep your heating system in peak condition and avoid costly damage, consider hiring an HVAC professional every couple of years.
How Do You Clean A Furnace

Regular cleaning and maintenance will keep your furnace running efficiently and reduce your energy costs. Replace disposable filters with washable ones for better air quality and efficiency.

Basic Tools and Equipment to clean a furnace

Tools and equipment are key for cleaning a furnace system. Without them, you may cause harm. Let’s see what they are and how they can help.

  • Disposable filter or washable filter: A new filter is vital for air quality and efficiency. Disposable filters are easy to change, whereas washable filters are reusable.
  • Vacuum cleaner: This is needed to remove dust from areas like the combustion chamber and air ducts.
  • Brush: A brush can be used to clean fan blades, blower assembly, front panel, flame sensor, pilot and other parts of the furnace.
  • Clean cloth: Wipe dirt from surfaces like the fan blades, heat exchanger, access door, etc. Use a damp cloth if there is oil residue present.

Image: Tools required to clean the furnace

An HVAC professional might recommend lightweight machine oil for bearings or other cleaning products. Cleaning can save money in the long run. It not only makes your furnace more efficient, but also lengthens its life span.

Steps to Clean Your Furnace

To clean your furnace with these steps, start by turning off the power. Then, remove the front panels and filter to gain access to the blower assembly, fan blades, and motor for vacuuming. Continue by cleaning the flame sensor and the heat exchanger and chamber. Transition to cleaning the air ducts and replacing them with new or washed filters.

Turn off the Power

Before getting started with furnace cleaning, switch off its power supply. To ensure your safety and prevent electrical accidents, follow these 5 steps:

  1. Hit the “off” switch on your furnace.
  2. Flip the circuit breaker that controls your furnace and HVAC system to “off”.
  3. Shut off the gas valve that leads to your furnace.
  4. Disconnect the main electric wire running from the furnace to the power source.
  5. Extinguish the pilot light manually if still burning.

Be sure that the power is off before starting any maintenance or cleaning. Safety first.

Remove the Front Panels and Filter

Clean your furnace to increase its lifespan. Start by taking off the panels and filter. Here are three steps:

  1. Switch off the power.
  2. Unscrew and slide away the front panel.
  3. Vacuum or wash the filter, then put it back.

Cleaning your furnace filters saves energy and improves air quality. To be safe, read the user manual or get expert help. So, clean your furnace carefully and wisely. Don’t let a dirty blower assembly ruin your heating system.

Vacuum Blower Assembly, Fan Blades, and Motor

Vacuuming the blower assembly, fan blades and motor is essential for cleaning your furnace. Not doing so can cause problems with efficiency or even lead to damage to your HVAC system. A table can help you see the different steps. Here’s an example:

Blower AssemblyCarefully remove fan blades from motor shaft clean blades
Fan BladesVacuum all debris surrounding the motor
MotorVacuum all debris surrounding motor

Don’t forget to clean inside these parts too – dust, dirt and other particles can decrease your furnace’s performance. Cleaning fan blades properly can also reduce noise when the system is running.

Regular maintenance can not only help your furnace last longer, but also save on energy costs. The DOE says you can reduce energy consumption by 15% with proper maintenance. states up to 50% of emergency heating calls are due to poor maintenance. Make it a habit to vacuum the essential parts like the blower assembly, fan blades, and motor.

Clean Flame Sensor

Maintaining your furnace is key for it to run well. Cleaning the flame sensor is a key part of upkeep. Here’s how:

  1. Turn off Power: Switch off the power to your furnace at the circuit breaker.
  2. Locate Sensor: With the help of the owner’s manual, find and remove the sensor carefully with a screwdriver.
  3. Clean Sensor: Use a soft-bristled brush or fine sandpaper to remove any dirt or residue from the sensor. Put the sensor back in place, and turn the power on.

It’s worth noting that a dirty flame sensor can prevent your furnace from working properly and cause higher bills. 

Clean the Heat Exchanger and Chamber

It’s essential to clean your furnace’s heat exchanger and chamber. If left uncleaned, debris can build up, reducing furnace efficiency and increasing energy bills. Here’s a step-by-step guide:

  1. Turn off the furnace – Safety first! Shut off the power and wait for the furnace to cool.
  2. Remove the panels – Once cooled, access both surfaces by taking off the panels.
  3. Clean the surfaces – Use a soft brush or vacuum to clean dust, dirt, and debris.
  4. Check for cracks/rust – Check for damage like cracks/rust while cleaning.
  5. Re-assemble – Put back all the removed panels in their positions securely.
  6. Turn on the furnace – You’re done! Check if everything works correctly after reassembly.

Remember to clean your heat exchanger/chamber yearly, preferably before winter heating season. Failure to clean can lead to buildup, expensive repairs, lower efficiency, and a shorter lifespan. 

Clean the Air Ducts

Air ducts are responsible for circulating air in your home, and collecting dust, dirt and other stuff over time. Cleaning them regularly is key to keeping them efficient. Here’s a step-by-step guide:

  1. Turn off power to furnace: Make sure power to furnace is off before beginning.
  2. Remove vent covers: Using a screwdriver, take out the vent covers from air ducts.
  3. Clean vent covers: Give them a thorough cleaning with warm, soapy water. Let them dry properly before replacing them.
  4. Vacuum air ducts: Use a powerful vacuum cleaner to clean each air duct. Remove any debris or dust settled in the ductwork.
  5. Replace vent covers: Put back all the covers and switch power on to the furnace.

When cleaning your air ducts, pay attention to any signs that show an issue with the HVAC system. Odd smells, weak airflow or blocked areas? It’s time to call a professional. Have air ducts cleaned every three years to keep allergens and other bad particles from circulating and maintain efficiency of your HVAC system. Plus, don’t forget to change filters – unless you enjoy breathing in dust, debris and regrets!

Install New or Washed Filters

To keep a steady flow of clean air, replace them regularly. Here’s how to do that:

  1. Before you install new or cleansed filters, turn off the electricity. Then, take out the filter from its holder and check for damage. If there is any, get rid of it according to the manufacturer’s guidelines.
  2. Take sizes of the current filter to get the right replacement size. Buy a new one or clean the existing one, as per the maker’s requirements.
  3. Slide the fresh or washed filter in and fix it firmly. Once done, switch the power back on. This process helps boost air quality and lower energy bills.

Dirty filters reduce the air flow, making your furnace work harder and use more energy. That leads to higher electrical bills and expensive repairs. Keep filters clean to guarantee smooth operation that saves cash and keeps the air inside healthy. To do this, follow these steps on a regular basis for the best performance!

Tips for Regular Furnace Maintenance

To keep your furnace in peak condition, regular maintenance is key. In order to ensure optimal performance and energy efficiency of your heating system, follow these simple steps. 

  • Schedule regular service from an HVAC professional
  • Check and replace bearings and belts
  • Keep pilot arrows clean and pointing in the right direction
  • Replace disposable filters every 1-3 months, and washable filters every 6-12 months
  • Apply lightweight machine oil to the fan and motor bearings. 

These tips will keep your furnace running smoothly and save you money on your energy bills in the long run.

Schedule Regular Service from an HVAC Professional

Scheduling furnace maintenance from a qualified HVAC pro is a must. Neglecting this can cause costly repairs or hazardous malfunctions. To do this, follow 3 steps:

  1. Find a reputable HVAC company near you
  2. Contact them and request a maintenance appointment
  3. Choose a date and time that works for you and confirm the appointment

You need a licensed, insured, and experienced HVAC professional to assess your system accurately. They’ll do tests, including cleaning air filters and ducts, checking gas pressure levels, examining electrical connections, inspecting burners and heat exchangers, and more.

Remember to clean or replace furnace filters every 30 days for top performance. Also, follow manufacturer instructions for maintenance to increase furnace lifespan.

Statistics from Energy Star reveal annual furnace maintenance by a qualified pro can save up to 5% on heating costs and ensure safety and reduced emissions. 

Check and Replace Bearings and Belts

Maintaining a healthy furnace is essential to make it last longer and work efficiently. Checking and replacing bearings and belts regularly is key. Here’s a step-by-step guide:

  1. Turn off the power.
  2. Locate the belt between the motor pulley and blower sheave.
  3. If there is wear or cracks, loosen the tensioner bolts and replace with new one.
  4. Once a year, lubricate the bearings with high-temperature grease recommended by your manufacturer. Clean dust while you do this.
  5. If there’s excessive noise or vibration, it may mean worn-out bearings that need replacing. Get a pro if you don’t have experience.
  6. Always follow manufacturer instructions when servicing and repairing.

Clean or replace air filters monthly. Dirty filters add stress on components. Never ignore strange sounds or reduced heating efficiency. Regular maintenance prevents energy wastage and expensive breakdowns. Don’t let FOMO take over preventive measures when these issues come up.

Keep Pilot Arrow Clean and Pointing in the Right Direction

Maintaining your furnace is important. This includes checking the pilot light. It is essential for safe and efficient operation. Here are 3 steps to keep it clean and pointing the right way:

  • Step 1: Switch off the furnace. Make sure it’s cooled down before beginning maintenance.
  • Step 2: Clean the pilot arrow. Use a soft-bristled brush or cotton swab. Be careful not to scratch or damage.
  • Step 3: Check the arrow is pointing in the right direction. If not, adjust gently.

Clogged main burner orifices can cause the furnace to malfunction. A dirty pilot light can also lead to weak flames or it going out. Regular professional inspections and tune-ups keep the system in good shape.

Replace Disposable Filters Every 1-3 Months, Washable Filters Every 6-12 Months

Maintaining your furnace in tip-top shape is much more than just switching it on and off. Regular maintenance ensures that it runs efficiently, saves energy, and prolongs its lifespan. Replace disposable filters every 1-3 months and washable filters every 6-12 months. Six points to keep in mind when replacing your furnace filters:

  • Replace disposable filters according to usage instead of a timeline.
  • If you have pets or allergies, consider changing them more often.
  • The size of the filter must fit precisely for better indoor air quality.
  • Check washable filters once a month for cleaning.
  • Clean washable filters with warm water and soap; rinse off completely before reuse.
  • Have a HVAC specialist check your furnace yearly for maintenance service, including replacing the disposable filter beforehand

Not replacing or washing furnace filters can lead to problems like poor airflow, overheating, energy waste, and high utility bills. Plus, a dirty filter can breed germs causing respiratory illnesses.

Apply Lightweight Machine Oil to Fan and Motor Bearings

Looking after your furnace is vital for keeping your heating system in top shape. Applying lightweight machine oil to the fan and motor bearings is a key part of this. Here’s a 4-step guide:

  1. Turn off the furnace first:
    Power off the furnace and let it cool before applying oil. This way, you won’t get hurt by handling hot machinery.
  2. Find the fan and motor bearings:
    Look inside the furnace blower assembly. You may need a flashlight.
  3. Clear any debris:
    Clear away any dust from the bearings. This will get them ready for lubrication.
  4. Apply Lightweight Machine Oil:
    Squeeze two or three drops into each bearing’s oil holes. Then turn the power back on.

Regular maintenance like this can help your furnace last longer. Masking tape may be useful to secure wires that could get in your way.

When to Call a Professional

As a homeowner, it’s important to know when to get help with furnace cleaning. If you can’t fix an issue yourself, it’s time to call a pro.

Before calling, inspect the filter, blower assembly, and heat exchange. Learning more about your HVAC system may reduce costs. Watch out for warning signs. A flame sensor not sensing flames could lead to carbon monoxide poisoning.


Keeping your furnace clean is essential for efficient heating and good air quality.  Tools like a screwdriver and brush are necessary to get the job done properly. Also, make sure to check the air ducts frequently and clean out the oil filter to avoid clogging and maximize performance. Take caution when cleaning a furnace – incorrect methods can cause damage, leading to expensive repairs in the long run. The experts at Carrier recommend regular maintenance of your gas furnace to make sure it works consistently and reliably.