DIY Heating Maintenance: 2 Tips To Keep Your Old Gas Furnace Safe And Functional

Preparing your old gas furnace for winter goes beyond just checking the pilot light and changing the air filters. You also need to maintenance and repair the parts of your furnace that supply and maintain the fuel in your furnace. If you're ready to keep your gas furnace safe and functional this upcoming cold season, turn off the gas supply and all other power sources to your furnace, then follow the maintenance tips below.

Check Your Gas Shut-Off Valve for Rust

The shut-off valve prevents hazardous gas leaks and fires in the home when something goes wrong with your furnace. But when rust forms on the metal pieces of the shut-off valve, it can stick, fracture or break off when you need to use it during an emergency.

  • First, examine the area between the shut-off valve and gas line or pipe. If you see a reddish-brown, powdery or flaky residue in this location, gently clean it away with a rust remover, firm-bristled brush and towel. Use the tip of the brush to reach and clean the areas beneath the valve. If necessary, rub away any rust you see on the gas line or pipe.
  • Next, examine the metal nodule at the top of the valve. Remove any signs of rust right away, including the tiniest brown spots. Even a small amount of rust can spread to unaffected metal.
  • Finally, clean the surface of the shut-off valve with warm, soapy water. You want to get rid of dust, fuel residue and cobwebs, which can build up on the valve and make it stick.

Important Tip

Because rust removing products vary in how you use them, be sure to follow the instructions on the container precisely to avoid damaging the shut-off valve's metal surface. If in doubt about what type of rust-remover to use, contact your HVAC contractor for advice.

Replace the Motor's Pulley

The pulley is used to place tension on the furnace's motor as it operates in the winter. If you use your old gas furnace throughout the winter, the synthetic material of the pulley can wear down, tear, or shred. Any of these issues can cause the motor to work harder when the furnace is in operation. In some cases, the motor can break down, fly out or stall because there isn't enough tension placed on it by the pulley to stay functional.

Checking the pulley now gives you a chance to replace it before you need to use your furnace. However, don't remove the pulley until you read the owner's manual for your furnace first. The manual will tell you what type of pulley you need to purchase as the replacement, as well as how to remove the pulley safely.

Pulleys use a lot of tension to keep motors in place. Using the wrong tools or techniques to remove the pulley may lead to injuries to the face, eyes or body. Keep these safety issues in mind when you replace the part.

If you have additional questions about your gas furnace or need assistance with cleaning or repairing it, contact your heating contractor.