Furnace Maintenance 101
The truism “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure” particularly applies to regular furnace maintenance. Regular furnace maintenance helps you avoid costly repairs, not to mention irritating interruptions to your home’s comfort. Equally important, regular furnace maintenance ensures your heating system is operating with the highest energy efficiency, which helps keep utility bills low.
If you are wondering whether you really need regular furnace maintenance, the short answer is “yes, absolutely.” In this post, let’s take a look at the reasons furnace maintenance is a must.
Let’s dive into:
- What is furnace maintenance?
- Signs you need furnace maintenance
- How often is furnace maintenance performed?
- The cost of furnace maintenance
- The benefits of furnace maintenance
- Can you do furnace maintenance yourself?
- Schedule a furnace maintenance appointment
Furnace maintenance comprises a thorough inspection of your heating system to ensure all parts are working properly and efficiently. In addition, parts are cleaned and, if necessary, replaced. Specifically, your technician will:
- Check heat exchanger for signs of damage or corrosion
- Examine burner and flame sensor for proper operation
- Check air filter and clean or replace it as needed
- Inspect vent system and air intake grilles and remove any debris to ensure efficient air flow
- Ensure air blower is clean and free of debris; test blower motor for proper operation
- Examine all electrical connections; if required, tighten connections and repair or replace damaged wiring
- Lubricate all moving parts that require lubricating.
- Check thermostats for proper operation
- Replace malfunctioning parts
- Examine fuel lines for leaks; test gas pressure, burner and pilot; clean pilot if needed, inspect thermocouple (oil and gas furnaces)
- Test safety controls and startup cycle
If you are experiencing any of the following issues, you need furnace maintenance, and the sooner the better:
- Insufficient heat, despite raising temperature on the thermostat
- Higher than normal energy bills
- Odd smells coming from registers or the furnace itself (burnt smell usually indicates a part going bad; a rotten egg smell may indicate a gas leak)
- The furnace makes loud noises and/or turns on and off frequently (short cycling)
- If you have an old furnace with a pilot light that doesn’t stay lit and/or the flame is all yellow or orange instead of blue, this indicates insufficient burning and possible danger of carbon monoxide emissions (open a window near the furnace if you can’t turn the furnace off completely and call a service technician immediately)
If your furnace is not working at all, there are a few things you can do:
- Check that the power switch is turned on
- Check the thermostat; adjust the temperature up by at least five degrees to see if this turns the furnace back on
- Check the circuit breakers or fuse; reset a tripped circuit breaker or replace a blown fuse
- Check and potentially replace or clean the filter
- Check that the fuel supply is sufficient to run the furnace; if not, get a resupply
Did none of these steps fix the problem? Call a certified HVAC technician.
Chances are that if you perform regular furnace maintenance, you won’t need to deal with any issues on an emergency basis. Regular furnace maintenance helps keep your system operating efficiently and reliably for years to come.
At a minimum, annual furnace maintenance is performed just before the start of the winter heating season. If you have central air conditioning and/or a heat pump or split system, an additional checkup on the entire HVAC system is also performed before the start of the summer cooling season. If anyone in your family has bad allergies, respiratory issues, or a compromised immune system, it’s best to get furnace maintenance tune-ups more frequently, perhaps four times annually, to ensure optimal indoor air quality.
But whatever the cost of furnace maintenance, the benefits more than justify it.
There are numerous advantages to regular furnace maintenance:
- Save money. Sometimes you have to spend money to save money. Regular furnace maintenance keeps your heating system running as efficiently as possible; an efficient running furnace consumes less energy, which means your utility bills are lower. In fact, what you save over a year could cover the cost of regular furnace maintenance!
- Maintain your warranty. If your furnace is still under warranty, regular maintenance is usually a stipulation to maintain coverage. Warranty coverage is potentially invalidated if something breaks down and you can’t provide records of regular furnace maintenance.
- Minimize risk of service interruption. Furnace maintenance identifies issues that are easily corrected before they become problems. There are fewer system failures and emergency repairs. Most of all, you are less likely to be left without heat during the winter cold.
- Extend furnace service life. A well-maintained furnace is a furnace that lasts as long as possible, so you get the most return out of your investment.
- Improve indoor air quality. Clean and fully functioning air filters help prevent the spread of dust, pet dander, mold, smoke, bacteria, and viruses that can enter your home and circulate through the air ducts, potentially causing health issues, particularly for those with asthma or other respiratory problems.
There are some furnace maintenance steps you can perform yourself. Primarily this involves keeping debris away from the furnace, vacuuming the combustion chamber (after you’ve turned the power off to the furnace), and cleaning or replacing the furnace filter.
But even if you are confident and competent that you can perform these tasks, it’s still a good idea to have a certified HVAC specialist perform regular maintenance on your system. There are certain things only a trained technician knows how to do. Performing some DIY maintenance might at first seem more convenient and might save you a few bucks, but there is no substitute for having your furnace serviced regularly by a qualified and experienced HVAC technician.
With a Peak Performance Plan from Ongaro and Sons, you can rest easy knowing your comfort is in good hands. Our plans cover comprehensive yearly inspections and tune-ups for all heating systems, ensuring your equipment remains as safe, effective, and efficient as possible. For heat pumps and split systems that combine heating and cooling, you’ll receive two service visits per year.