When you think of winter, ideally you think about a comfy evening in your warm home. But every now and then winter decides not to go 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 HVAC system from being ill prepared for winter. Nobody wants or deserves a broken-down furnace, which is why we created this checklist for getting your HVAC system prepped for winter.

Five Ways to Prepare Your HVAC for Winter

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

Since most HVAC systems have an outdoor condenser unit to release heat, you'll want to see to it that the area nearby is clean of any yard debris. Clean 5 feet of space or so from any vegetation or sticks. It's also a good idea to ensure it's protected by a piece 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 inspect and clean out your air filter, usually placed in your furnace's indoor air handler. Dust, pollen, animal dander and many other kinds of debris can slowly accumulate in the air filter. If it goes unchecked, your furnace might lose efficiency and potentially even become a fire hazard. A clean air filter helps air to flow more freely, sustaining good ventilation and helping keep indoor air quality high. To enjoy the most benefit from your filter, make sure to clean or change it every couple of months or based on manufacturer instructions.

3. Clean the Blower

The blower is crucial to your Lennox furnace, and as a key component it can collect a lot of wear and tear. Cleaning it now and then will help maintain strong performance. Vacuum the area around the blower and brush the blades with a microfiber cloth for more efficient airflow. If you notice any odd noises or aren't getting any circulation from the vents, hire a professional technician to check out your blower.

4. Search 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 flaws in the condenser unit outside could contribute to all manners of comfort problems, such as heat escaping before it moves into your ductwork. If there is noticeable damage, talk to your local technician at Covington Air Systems about inspecting the system before the temperatures begin to drop. This way you can avoid letting a slight gap in the system grow into a major problem.

5. Test Your Heating Before It Gets Too Cold

It's always smart to make sure your HVAC system is functioning properly before the middle of winter. If you don't, your HVAC system might be unprepared for the first significant drop in temperatures. Performing a test run of your heating can give you the chance to recognize potential problems right away, while they're still easier to fix. This also burns off any dust that may have piled up in the air ducts over the fall, removing that burnt smell. Once your furnace is in working shape, you can sled away from your HVAC worries.

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

Winter weather is going to be on its way before you know it. If you spend some time to get your furnace prepped beforehand, 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!