2 Ways To Reduce Your Furnace's Soot Production

Before you begin using your furnace all day long to counteract the cold winter temperatures, you must make sure your furnace is free of soot buildup. However, this is easier said than done.

Anytime gas is ignited in your furnace, soot will be produced—though the amount will depend on how well your furnace is maintained. When a significant amount of soot accumulates inside your furnace's combustion chamber, your heat production and overall efficiency will be reduced. Prevent unnecessary soot buildup by performing or arranging for these three tasks:

Regularly Replace or Clean Your Air Filter

Air that enters your combustion chamber must first pass through your air filter. However, after cleaning your indoor air of dust, dirt, pet fur, allergens, and other debris for the past several months, your air filter will be clogged. A clogged air filter will restrict the airflow through your furnace and increase the amount of soot production inside your combustion chamber.

Luckily, replacing a conventional furnace filter is an incredibly easy task. To replace your filter, open your blower motor compartment, pull out your dirty filter, clean the filter area with a damp rag, and slide in your replacement filter.

Cleaning An Electrostatic Filter

However, if your furnace uses an electrostatic air filter, then eliminating your airflow restriction will require a bit more work. Your electrostatic filter doesn't require replacement. Instead, your filter system requires cleaning. Shut off the power to your electrostatic filter and open the access panel on the front of the housing. Pull out your pre-filters (the wire screens), your cells (the large, metal boxes), and your charcoal filters (also known as post-filters).

Clean your pre-filters by spraying them with your garden hose—but make sure not to use too much pressure. If your hose is too pressurized, you can bend the delicate screens on your pre-filters and negatively affect their ability to trap debris.

Clean your cells by soaking them in a mixture of mild dish soap and warm water. After half an hour, remove your cells and wash away any remaining soap with your kitchen sprayer or garden hose. Let your pre-filters and cells air dry before reinstalling them back into your filter system.

Your post-filters, however, cannot be cleaned. The charcoal in your post-filters is designed to eliminate odors in your indoor air. If exposed to water, your post-filters will be rendered ineffective. Purchase replacement post-filters from your system's manufacturer or find compatible post-filters at your local home improvement store.

Increase Your Furnace's Air Supply

Your furnace's blower motor is tasked with creating the airflow through your furnace. Your furnace's blower motor was designed to deliver a specific volume of air to your furnace. However, if there isn't enough air in the room in which your furnace is installed, then your blower motor will struggle to deliver a sufficient volume of air to your furnace.

As you may have noticed by now, an insufficient supply of air will increase your furnace's soot production. This is because air is essential for efficient gas combustion. If there isn't enough air for your blower motor to suction into your furnace, then cleaning or replacing your air filter won't decrease your soot production.

However, determining the volume of available air in your furnace room will prove to be incredibly difficult. Instead of attempting to perform this calculation on your own, hire your local HVAC technician to do it for you. By leaving the math to a professional, you can ensure that the calculations will be correct. If your furnace room is not capable of providing enough air to your furnace, then your technician will suggest several options that will increase your air supply—such as installing additional vents, removing a door, or cracking a window.

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