When you imagine winter, you hopefully imagine a comfy evening at home. But once in a while winter decides not to go along with our plans, and we end up shivering in our own homes. You won't always be able to stop a blizzard from rolling through, but you can prevent your heating from being poorly equipped for winter. Nobody wants or deserves an unreliable furnace, which is why we made this checklist for getting your HVAC system prepared for winter.

Five Ways to Prepare Your HVAC for a Cold Winter

1. Wrap up Your Outdoor Unit and Clean the Space Around It

Since most HVAC systems have an outdoor condenser unit to dispel heat, you'll want to ensure that the area nearby is clean of any yard debris. Clear 5 feet of space or so from any vegetation or sticks. It's also smart to ensure it's covered by a bit of tarp or similar material during the winter. This keeps ice and other debris from getting inside the condenser.

2. Wash or Replace the Air Filter

Always evaluate and clean out your air filter, usually located in your furnace's indoor air handler. Dust, pollen, animal dander and many other materials can slowly build up in the air filter. If it continues unchecked, your heating could lose efficiency and possibly even become a fire hazard. A clean air filter enables air to flow more freely, maintaining good ventilation and helping keep indoor air quality high. To enjoy the most benefit from an air filter, make sure to clean or exchange it every couple of months or in line with manufacturer instructions.

3. Clean the Blower

The blower is vital to your Lennox furnace, and as an integral component it can collect a lot of wear and tear. Cleaning it once in a while will help maintain strong performance. Vacuum the area around the blower and brush the blades with a microfiber cloth for optimum airflow. If you’re hearing any unusual noises or are not getting any circulation from the vents, get a professional technician to examine your blower.

4. Look for Gaps or Dents in Your Furnace

Make sure that your furnace is free of 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 manners of comfort problems, such as heat leaking out before it reaches your ductwork. If there is noticeable damage, consult your local technician at Refrigeration Systems Ltd. about checking out the system before the temperatures start dropping. This way you can avoid letting a small crack in the system grow into a major problem.

5. Test Your Equipment Before It Gets Too Cold

It's always wise to make sure your HVAC system is running properly before its busiest season. Otherwise, your HVAC system may be unequipped for the first real drop in temperatures. Conducting a test run of your heating can provide the opportunity to notice potential problems early, while they're still easier to solve. This also removes any dust that may have gathered in the air ducts during the fall, removing that burnt smell. As soon as your furnace is in working order, you can sled away from your HVAC worries.

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

Winter weather should be heading this way before you know it. If you take the time to get your furnace prepped in advance, you can spend the winter enjoying the holidays, drinking hot cocoa or hanging out with your family inside a warm, cozy home. Don't forget to follow the tips above to get your home ready for next winter!