Inspections and Repairs to Make Before Turning on a Rarely-Used Heater

When a heater hasn't been used in a while, it will likely need more than a basic maintenance service to make sure it's running properly. Faulty electrical components, leaky ducts, and failing safety features will all need to be addressed before you can start using your furnace, both to prevent damage to your furnace and to keep everyone in your home safe.

Electrical Components

A typical furnace uses a lot of power, regardless of its fuel source, as there are many electrical components in your furnace that keep it running. Some examples are your blower motor and your ignition system. Because of how important electricity is for your furnace, and how expensive and dangerous electrical malfunctions can be, having a thorough electrical parts inspection is a good way to start.

Make sure your circuit is regularly inspected to make sure it will provide steady power. For example, if you try to run your furnace, but your breaker keeps tripping, this could be a sign of a circuit issue that needs immediate attention.

You can also have your fuses checked during this process. Your fuses are inexpensive components that bear the brunt of many electrical issues, such as power surges and protecting more expensive parts. If they are old or no longer work, they will need to be replaced before you operate your furnace.


A good system of ducts not only boosts your energy efficiency, it also helps you avoid potential safety risks. If you haven't had your ducts inspected in several years, it's probably a good idea to have them thoroughly inspected to look for signs of leaks, damage, or pest infestation.

The first potential issue is any damage or leaks. This can include things like dents, faded sealant, and insulation that has fallen away. Leaky ducts will cause you to lose plenty of hot air before it ever gets to your house. They can also let in dust and debris, which then comes into your home.

The second issue is pest infestation. Some pests, like rodents, can make homes inside your ducts or leave droppings. If pests have been in your ducts, this can cause allergic symptoms or illness, and your ducts will need to be professionally cleaned before they are used.

Safety Features

Your furnace system has a few safety features built-in that should be checked and potentially repaired before you use your system.

One example is your carbon monoxide detector. Because your furnace expels gases that can be harmful, it's important to make sure this works before you use your furnace regularly again.

Another example is your thermocouple. If your furnace is old enough to use a pilot light, the thermocouple detects whether the flame is on, and if not, it shuts off the gas supply. This can become a problem if the thermocouple is faulty, which will cause it to shut off the gas even if the flame is on.

Your furnace's safety features are important, not just to make sure your furnace doesn't damage itself, but to protect everyone in your home. Before you start using your furnace regularly, make sure any issues or faults with your furnace's safety systems are repaired. Keep these tips in mind when looking for local HVAC contractors near you.