Winter is here again, and it is that time of year when the heating system in homes will see the most use. For people living in Canada winter often means enduring temperature drops as low as -30 to -40 degrees Celsius, depending on where you live.

For rental property owners, it means taking steps to keep their rentals comfortably warm throughout winter. The last thing you want as a landlord is to have tenants calling in the dead of night or during a heavy snowstorm to report that the furnace in the rental has broken down.

Those situations are highly inconvenient for you and the tenants. It is often hard to get hold of HVAC technicians who will be willing to go over to fix a furnace at night or during a winter storm. Secondly, the situation could endanger your tenants’ lives.

Furnace issues during winter will put your rental business and the tenants in the rental property at risk. You expose yourself to the possible lawsuits when you fail to provide sufficient heating in a rental during winter, warns Cressman Realty & Management. Just one incident like this can ruin an otherwise profitable business.

To avoid the difficulties that can arise from this situation, you should take early steps to get the furnace in your rental into good shape for winter. Rental property furnace maintenance is not that hard; you need to know what to do and do them on time.

Here are a few tips for maintaining the furnace in your rental property.

Rental property furnace maintenance tips

1. Know the furnace type

Rental property tips

There are different types of furnaces distinguished primarily by the kind of fuel or energy source they use. The furnace in your rental will be one of these: natural gas furnace, oil furnace, electric furnace, or propane furnace. Most furnaces, though they look different, have the same primary components. But the elements are often arranged in different ways. So it is essential to familiarize yourself with the location and function of each furnace component.

2. Know what you can do yourself

There are several furnace maintenance tasks that you can handle yourself. If you know the ones you can do yourself and the aspects to hire experts, you will save money and prolong the furnace life. Here is a list of the furnace maintenance tasks you should handle by yourself:

A. Know how to take out the furnace doors:

It is vital to learn how to take your furnace doors off and access the inside of the furnace. The size and position of the door depends on the type of furnace. But most furnace doors are easily identified by the handle in front of them; some may have knobs or screws on them.

B. Clean the flame sensor

Dirty flame sensors are the number one furnace problem. A dirty flame sensor will prevent your furnace from working. Oxidation and carbon build are the two main things that can keep the flame sensor from working. Despite how vital, the flame sensor is small and easy to clean.

C. Change the furnace filter regularly

Dirty furnace filters rank as the second most common furnace problem. Dirty filters will stop the furnace from running or keep it from running. Furnace filters should be changed every three or four weeks in winter when the furnace is running all the time. If the furnace is making a whistling sound or the filter surface is caved-in, replace the furnace filter.

D. Keep vents and supply registers open

Make sure there are no items in front of the return grills that can restrict airflow. Educate tenants not to have couches, shelves, or pieces of fabric in front of the grills. Also, never close-off more than one-third of the supply registers in the home; if possible, keep them all open. You can ask your cleaning service to clean the return grills with a vacuum, or if they are dirty inside, unscrew them and vacuum inside.

ecobee thermostat
E. Program thermostat and replace batteries

Show your tenants how to tell when the thermostat battery is low and how to replace them. Know how to program the thermostat and make sure the tenants understand it. Educate them on the difference between the thermostat’s manual and program modes.

F. Replace the water panel on the humidifier and reset the damper

If your rental has a whole-house humidifier, locate the water panel and learn how to replace it. If the humidifier comes with a damper, ensure that you set it to winter.

Other maintenance tasks for keeping the furnace running include:

  • Cleaning the ducts and coils.
  • Sealing leaking ducts.
  • Replacing damaged fan belts.
  • Checking oil bearings.

It is better to allow an HVAC expert to handle these. We recommend that you have the furnace professionally inspected every year at the end of the fall to ensure it is in good order for winter.