According to HVAC specialists -it’s that time of year again, when the cooler nights force us to turn on the furnace for the first time in months. When temperatures drop, homeowners should have the furnace serviced in order to protect their families and keep their equipment running at peak efficiency throughout the winter. According to the National Fire Protection Association nearly 20% of all home fires can be attributed to dangerous heating equipment in the home. Furnaces can also be a main cause of carbon monoxide (CO) poisoning in the home; approximately 1,500 people die every year from accidental CO poisoning. Having a clean and serviced furnace will help keep your family safe. A properly functioning furnace even reduces energy costs by increasing airflow. Households can save up to 5% on heating costs with a properly functioning furnace.
Question: Why are furnace tune-ups important and what does a typical tune-up entail?
Answer: Furnaces are subjected to extreme heat every time they operate, metal expands and contracts causing stress to the equipment. The extreme heat and constant cycling of equipment eventually causes parts to fail or crack. A good tune-up will uncover these parts prior to failures, saving the owner from the hassle of a breakdown. A tune-up covers everything from checking for cracks in the heat exchanger to cleaning burners and ensuring proper gas pressures. A tune-up will also detect any carbon monoxide leaks caused by cracks in the equipment.
Q: What is carbon monoxide and how can it be stopped?
A: Carbon monoxide is colorless and odorless, and it’s toxic in high quantities. It is the leading cause of death from accidental poisoning in America, as all gas appliances produce it. The better the furnace is maintained, the less carbon monoxide it will produce. Aside from servicing gas appliances, investing in a carbon monoxide detector will also help prevent accidental poisoning.
Q: What the signs that a furnace needs to be repaired or serviced soon?
A: If it’s making unusual noises, if the air is not flowing like normal or if the furnace seems to be stopping and starting more frequently. These can all be signs but in general, don’t ignore it if it seems to be operating differently. Small problems can manifest into major problems if left unchecked. Have it looked at before it becomes a costly issue.
Q: Are there any other special maintenance tips for electric-only or oil furnaces?
A. Oil furnaces need tune-ups more than any other type of furnace because the homeowner cannot allow their oil tank to run dry. I recommend refilling the tank before it reaches a quarter full. Aside from regularly changing the air filter, oil furnaces have other special filters and nozzles that need changing; only a trained professional should do this. For electric furnaces, the homeowner must keep their filter changed regularly and have seasonal tune-ups preformed.
Q. What is a SEER rating and how does it impact my energy costs?
Q: What should people look for in a service company when getting a furnace tune-up?
A: A company that offers service agreements and understands the importance of preventative maintenance. Be sure they have a written procedure for the tune-up. Some companies burn through tune-ups very quickly; a good, thorough tune-up will take 1 ½ – 2 hours. If technicians are in and out in 15 minutes, they’re just scratching the surface.
Q: What are some DIY tips to servicing a furnace?
A: Change the air filter before it becomes clogged. Airflow issues are often the root of major problems. Standard 1-inch filters should be changed after every 30 days of operation. Vacuum out registers regularly and keep furniture and other items from blocking them. If you have a humidifier, change the pad inside the unit every year. If you have a heat pump, clear all debris away from the outdoor unit and make sure air can pass easily through the sides of the unit.
Housing Logic also several tips on maintaining your furnace.
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