Over the years, no matter how often you change your furnace filter, you will probably need to access your main furnace compartment and do some basic cleaning. The filter is responsible for blocking dirt from being blown through the ducts and into the fan and motor. Obviously, any dirt that gets on these important components can ultimately reduce the overall effectiveness of your furnace. And it is also important to realize that the furnace is responsible for both air conditioning and heating. So, if you notice that either system is not running efficiently, the problem could be with your furnace. This article explains how to clean the inside of your furnace cabinet.
Accessing Your Furnace
First of all, most furnaces don't have a traditional power switch. There will be a knob that allows you to turn off the pilot light. But you need to turn the furnace power off first by switching the right breaker. To be extra safe, you should also turn off the thermostat. Then, you can open of the furnace access door. Most doors can be opened by removing a couple of small bolts. On some older units you will need to take off the entire panel. Once the door is opened (or removed) you can turn off the pilot light. At this point, you furnace is safe to work on.
Cleaning Inside the Compartment
All you really need to clean your furnace compartment is a hose vacuum with a brush attachment and several wet rags. A flashlight might also be helpful so you can actually see what you are doing. First, use the vacuum to suck up any dust buildup. You should pay close attention to the corners and the couplings near the duct inputs, where buildup is most common. You can also vacuum the actual fan blades and motor casing. Make sure you use the brush attachment to knock off any dust that is being stubborn.
Then, you should use a wet rag to thoroughly wipe down the interior walls. Keep an eye out for mold. Any mold within the compartment can get circulated into the ducts, and eventually into your home and lungs. So, it is very important to eliminate any mold. You can spray your rags with some basic all-surface cleaner to help rub away more stubborn dirt.
Finally, you can relight the pilot and turn the power back on. You may not notice a huge increase in airflow, but you can be sure that cleaner air is pumping through your system.