If you have a heating system that seems to be working with less gusto than it did throughout the first part of the winter, then there is a chance that the heater needs to be replaced. However, a typical furnace can last 15 or 20 years or even longer. If your furnace is newer and well within the 20 year range, then there may be a much simpler reason for the performance issue. If you also notice low air flow moving through your vents, then try some of the following tips to try to get your furnace working more efficiently.
Change The Air Filter
Air filter changes are often suggested if a furnace is not working well. This advice makes sense, since the filter controls the movement of air through the system. However, you likely understand that filter clogs are much more likely in the summer when pollen and dust accumulate in the air. However, dirt and debris can fly around in the winter as well and can be pulled into the air intake of your furnace. In fact, the chilly air is also quite dry during the winter months.
If you cannot remember the last time you changed the filter in your heating system or if it has been a month or two, then change the filter first before you do anything else. While you do not need a special filter just for winter weather, it is wise to choose a traditional spun-fiberglass filter. These filters trap dirt and dust well and also allow a good deal of heated air to move through the ducts and vents of your house. This means a more efficient heating system for you and also lower costs when it comes to energy expenditures.
Look For Duct Leaks
Another problem that may cause low airflow and poor heating in your house is when the ductwork itself forms holes and openings and allows heat to escape. If air escapes from the ducts, then the velocity and volume of heated air that makes it into your house can drop drastically. In most cases, the heat escapes through the seams that connect the pieces of the duct together. These seams can and should be sealed properly.
Examine all the ducts in the house that are exposed. Exposed ductwork will line the basement ceiling as well as the attic in some cases. Look for the areas where the ducts connect to one another. You should use either a long piece of polypropylene tape over each seam or a thick layer of mastic to seal the seams off. Do not use duct tape. While the name suggests that the tape is meant for duct sealing, the glue on the back of the tape will degrade over time and the tape will loosen. New leaks will then develop.