When you think of winter, you hopefully think about a cozy evening at home. But once in a while winter decides not to go along with our plans, and we're left shivering in our own homes. You won't always be able to keep a blizzard from blowing through, but you can prevent your furnace and other HVAC equipment from being poorly equipped 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. Cover up Your Outdoor Unit and Clean 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 close to the unit itself is clean of any yard debris. Clean 5 feet of space or so from any plants or rocks. It's also smart to make sure it's covered by a section 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, normally located in your furnace's indoor air handler. Dust, pollen, animal dander and many other kinds of debris can steadily build up in the air filter. If it continues unchecked, your HVAC system could lose efficiency and potentially even become a fire hazard. A clean air filter allows air to flow smoothly, sustaining good ventilation and helping keep indoor air quality high. To get the most benefit from the filter, make sure to clean or replace it every few months or according to manufacturer instructions.

3. Clean the Blower

The blower is essential to your Lennox furnace, and as a key component it can attract a lot of wear and tear. Cleaning it now and then will help maintain strong performance. Vacuum the area next to the blower and clean the blades with a microfiber cloth for more efficient airflow. If you notice any odd noises or are not getting any circulation from the vents, hire a professional technician to check your blower.

4. Search 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 flaws in the condenser unit outside may contribute to all sorts of comfort problems, such as heat leaking out before it makes it to your ductwork. If there is noticeable damage, talk to your local technician at Haselhoff Air Solutions about checking out the system before the temperatures start falling. This way you can avoid letting a small crack in the system turn into a major problem.

5. Test Your Heating Before It Gets Too Cold

It's always wise to make sure your furnace is functioning properly before the middle of winter. If you don't, your furnace might be unprepared for the first real drop in temperatures. Performing a test run of your furnace can provide the opportunity to discover potential problems then and there, while they're still easier to fix. This also eliminates any dust that will often have accumulated in the air ducts over the fall, eliminating that burnt smell. As soon as your furnace is in working condition, you can sled away from these HVAC worries.

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

Winter weather should be on the way before you know it. If you make an effort to get your furnace prepared beforehand, you can spend the winter enjoying the holidays, sipping hot cocoa or hanging out with your family inside a warm, cozy home. Be sure to follow the tips above to get your home prepped for next winter!