When you imagine winter, we hope you think about a cozy evening curled up by the fire. But every now and then winter doesn't feel like going along with our plans, and we're stuck shivering in our own homes. You might not be able to prevent a blizzard from showing up, but you can prevent your furnace and other HVAC equipment from being unprepared for winter. Nobody prefers or deserves a broken-down furnace, which is why we made this checklist for getting your HVAC system ready for winter.

Five Ways to Prepare Your HVAC for a Cold Winter

1. Wrap up Your Outdoor Unit and Clear the Space Near It

Since most HVAC systems have an outdoor condenser unit to dispel heat, you'll want to see to it that the area surrounding it is clear of any yard debris. Clear 5 feet of space or so from any vegetation or rocks. It's also recommended to ensure it's protected by a piece of tarp or similar material over the winter. This keeps ice and other debris from getting inside the condenser.

2. Clean or Replace the Air Filter

Always evaluate and clean out your air filter, customarily placed in your furnace's indoor air handler. Dust, pollen, animal dander and many other kinds of debris can slowly collect in the air filter. If it grows unchecked, your HVAC system might lose efficiency and potentially even become a fire hazard. A fresh air filter helps air to flow smoothly, sustaining good ventilation and helping keep indoor air quality healthy. To get the most benefit from your filter, make sure to clean or change it every two or three months or based on manufacturer instructions.

3. Clean the Blower

The blower is vital to your Lennox furnace, and as an essential component it can attract a lot of wear and tear. Cleaning it now and then will help maintain strong performance. Vacuum the area around the blower and clean the blades with a microfiber cloth for more efficient airflow. If you’re hearing any strange noises or are not getting any circulation from the vents, hire a professional technician to examine your blower.

4. Check for Gaps or Dents in Your Furnace

Make sure that your furnace doesn't have 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 escaping before it moves into your ductwork. If there is obvious damage, consult your local technician at Done Right Air about examining the system before the temperatures start dropping. This way you can avoid letting a minor crack in the system turn into a major problem.

5. Test Your Heating Before It Gets Too Cold

It's always smart to make sure your heating or cooling is functioning properly before its busiest season. Otherwise, your heating may be unprepared for the first significant drop in temperatures. Doing a test run of your heating can provide the chance to notice potential problems then and there, while they're still more straightforward to resolve. This also eliminates any dust that might have accumulated in the air ducts during the fall, getting rid of that burnt smell. Once your furnace is in working order, you can sled away from your HVAC worries.

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

Winter weather should be on the way before you know it. If you spend some time to get your furnace prepped ahead of time, you can spend the winter enjoying the holidays, having hot cocoa or relaxing with your family inside a warm, cozy home. Remember to follow the tips above to get your home prepared for next winter!