When you think of winter, we hope you imagine a comfortable evening in your warm home. But sometimes winter decides not to go along with our plans, and we're stuck shivering in our own homes. You may not be able to prevent a blizzard from showing up, but you can prevent your furnace and other HVAC equipment from being poorly equipped for winter. Nobody likes or deserves an unreliable furnace, which is why we made this checklist for getting your HVAC system prepped for winter.

Five Ways to Prepare Your HVAC for Winter

1. Cover Your Outdoor Unit and Clean the Space Around It

Since most HVAC systems have an outdoor condenser unit to dispel heat, you'll want to make sure that the area close to the unit itself is clean of any yard debris. Clear 5 feet of space or so from any leaves or sticks. It's also a good idea to make sure it's covered up by a piece of tarp or similar material over the winter. This keeps ice and other problems from getting inside the condenser.

2. Rinse or Replace the Air Filter

Always check and clean out your air filter, customarily found in your furnace's indoor air handler. Dust, pollen, animal dander and many other materials can gradually collect in the air filter. If it grows unchecked, your heating can lose efficiency and maybe even become a fire hazard. A clear 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 two or three months or in line with manufacturer instructions.

3. Clean the Blower

The blower is vital to your Lennox furnace, and as an integral component it can accumulate a lot of wear and tear. Cleaning it on occasion will help keep it in great shape. Vacuum the area next to the blower and clean the blades with a microfiber cloth for optimum airflow. If you hear any strange noises or are not getting any circulation from the vents, get a professional technician to check out your blower.

4. Look 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 a large dent in the condenser unit outside can play a role in all kinds of comfort problems, like heat escaping before it reaches your ductwork. If there is noticeable damage, speak with your local technician at Franklin's Heating & Air Conditioning, Inc about examining the system before the temperatures begin to drop. This way you can avoid letting a slight flaw in the system turn into a major problem.

5. Test Your Furnace Before It Gets Too Cold

It's always practical to make sure your heating or cooling is functioning properly before its busiest season. Otherwise, your furnace might be unequipped for the first significant drop in temperatures. Doing a test run of your heating can give you the chance to notice potential problems right away, while they're still more straightforward to fix. This also removes any dust that might have gathered in the air ducts over the fall, getting rid of that burnt smell. Once your furnace is in working shape, you can sled away from these HVAC worries.

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

Winter weather should be on its way before you know it. If you spend some time to get your furnace prepped in advance, you can spend the winter enjoying the holidays, having hot cocoa or spending time with your family inside a warm, cozy home. Don't forget to follow the tips above to get your home prepared for next winter!