It's easy to forget about your furnace as winter melts into spring and the frigid temperatures disappear in the rearview mirror, but keeping your heating system is good shape requires attention all year round. Failing furnaces can lead to expensive repairs or replacements, and often problems crop up at the worst times. Luckily, your furnace doesn't have to be a source of headaches and heartache. You can follow a few simple tips throughout the year to keep your furnace operating properly so that repair costs are minimized, and your family doesn't have to spend any cold winter days without heat.

Understand How the Thermostat Works

One of the simplest things you can do to help your furnace last longer is simply to understand how the thermostat works. Many people will constantly adjust their thermostat up and down, raising the temperature higher than it needs to be in the hopes of warming the house up faster, and then lowering the temperature once the heat becomes unbearable.

For most thermostat and furnace designs, however, you are generally only controlling the furnace blower. A higher temperature doesn't produce more heat; it simply forces the furnace to pump warm into the house for a longer period of time to reach the desired temperature. This means that if you intend to keep your house at 75 degrees, setting the thermostat to 80 or 85 degrees won't help you get there any faster. Instead, the furnace will simply keep running even after it crosses that 75-degree threshold.

How does this help you with repair costs? The answer is simple: overworked furnaces are more prone to costly repairs. Keeping your thermostat at a comfortable temperature will help your furnace's blower to run less without sacrificing any comfort. In fact, your home will likely be more comfortable since you won't be dealing with temperatures bouncing from too hot to too cold.

Never Ignore Your Filter

The blower filter near your furnace is by far the most important item to maintain if you want to reduce your overall operating and repair costs. Dirty filters are often the root cause of failing HVAC systems and allowing a dirty one to remain in place for too long will inevitably lead to costly and unnecessary service calls. A clogged filter can restrict airflow, which places extra strain on the blower and can ultimately cause it to fail. You also run the risk of overheating your furnace's heat exchanger, which will trigger its safety and ultimately cause the furnace to begin cycling or simply not work at all.

Luckily, filters are cheap and generally very straightforward to replace. Check your filter every few months, even if your furnace is not in operation. This tiny preventative maintenance step is likely to save you hundreds of dollars over the life of your furnace.

Check Your Ducts When Possible

If your air ducts are easily accessible, it will pay to check them from time to time. While doing a simple inspection, be sure to vacuum out any dust or debris that you can reach. You should also check for obvious damage or other problems. Duct repair will often require professional help, but spotting problems early can minimize costs. Checking and cleaning your ducts is also a key part of keeping your furnace healthy. If too much dust and dirt build up, your filters are likely to clog more easily, and your HVAC system will be more prone to early failures.

Furnace repairs can be expensive, but a little smart usage of the system combined with basic preventative maintenance can help to guarantee that your system stays running for longer and costs you less to repair. For more information, contact your local furnace repairs service.