You Can Save Money Too

When Maintaining Your Furnace, Don't Forget About The Blower

When it comes to maintaining a furnace, many homeowners make the mistake of overlooking their furnace blower assembly. But overlooking this critical component can have consequences. A dirty blower fan has to work harder to push air through the heating system, plus the dust and debris on the fan blades could end up in other parts of your home.

The following offers a step-by-step guide for cleaning your furnace's blower fan and motor, plus a few safety tips to keep your DIY job safe and hassle-free.

First Things First

Before you do anything to your furnace, you want to make sure it is turned off. Make sure the thermostat is set to "off" and then locate the furnace and fan switches at the service panel breaker box and turn them all off. Some furnaces have external on/off switches that look like ordinary light switches. If your furnace has one of these, turn it off as well.

Removing the Furnace Fan

With everything safely shut off, you'll want to locate the service panel shielding the furnace blower and its housing. Remove this panel to gain access to the blower housing and fan.

Now here's where things get a bit tricky. Depending on the blower housing's design, you may have to remove it from the furnace just to get to the fan and motor. Start by disconnecting the wires connecting the motor and assembly to the furnace's wiring control box. Don't forget to label each wire and take note of the proper connection points.

Next, remove the bolts or screws holding the blower housing to the furnace and lift it out of the furnace. If you have a belt-driven fan, you'll have to loosen the belt before removing the motor. To do this, simply loosen the motor's retaining bolts and slide it until the belt goes slack.

The last step involves opening the blower housing and removing the fan itself. The fan is usually secured to the motor shaft by a retaining bolt. Simply undo this bolt and lift the fan out of the housing

Cleaning the Furnace Fan

With the fan out of the housing, you can finally get down to business:

  • Grab a shop vacuum with a soft brush attachment and gently run it across the blades. This will remove the majority of the dust and debris on the fan.
  • Vacuum the dust and debris found on the blower assembly. Use a damp rag to remove dust from those hard-to-reach crevices.
  • Use a toothbrush and a bucket of soapy water to scrub hardened dirt and grime from each individual fan blade. As an alternative, you can simply spray the entire fan with a foaming no-rinse cleaner and let it sit for as long as the cleaning action lasts. Do the same to the fan housing, as well.
  • Let the fan and the housing air-dry or wipe them dry with a clean cloth.

Cleaning the Furnace Motor

Next, turn your attention to the furnace motor. Since motors and water don't mix, just focus on cleaning the motor with your shop vacuum. Using the soft brush attachment, run the vacuum over the entire motor and pick up as much dust and debris as you can. If you haven't done so already, you might want to add a few drops of the appropriate lubricant to the motor before reassembly.

After you're done, reassemble the housing and reinstall it into the furnace. After reassembly, turn on the breakers and observe how the furnace runs for a few cycles before letting it run on its own.

Last, But Not Least

After putting everything back in place, the last thing you should do (if you haven't done so already) is to change the air filter. If you leave the old air filter in place, the blower assembly will end up dirty in very short order.

Changing or cleaning your furnace air filter not only helps combat dust and other airborne contaminants, but it also helps your furnace run more efficiently while using less energy. The end result is a cleaner environment and a less-expensive energy bill. If you have any other questions, call a HVAC company.