As the mild weather draws to a close, you really should start planning a tune-up for your HVAC system’s furnace, before the winter chill has it running overtime. The best time to schedule a furnace maintenance is in the fall, so the system is ready to handle the demands of keeping your home comfortable by the time winter arrives.
No matter what kind of furnace you own, a step-by-step inspection and maintenance checklist will help you keep it in top shape. The main areas of attention include:
1. Performance and Safety – There’s no doubt that operational safety and performance are the two main factors you should focus on:
- Tracking Efficiency – If you maintain an accurate performance log for your furnace (and the entire HVAC system), you can keep better track of any issues you face with it, as well as effective solutions. It also becomes easier to predict when something may go wrong.
- Safety Devices – Make sure that safety switches and other protective devices are functioning as they should, and follow the manufacturer’s instructions for their maintenance. This helps to reduce the risk of fire, breakdowns and other threats to your safety.
- Thermostat Calibration – An out-of-calibration thermostat could send incorrect inputs to your furnace, causing it to kick on and off in response. This raises your energy bills, so use a smart thermostat or schedule an annual calibration for conventional ones.
2. Ventilation Checks – For truly effective indoor heating, you need adequate airflow and ventilation, minus any leaks or clogs:
- Air Filters – Air flow will be affected if air filters are old, dirty or clogged, causing the furnace to work harder. This causes energy consumption to increase and may also raise the risk of mechanical faults. Change the filters before you start using the furnace.
- Combustion Chamber – Dirt, soot and other debris can clog up the openings of the combustion chamber, affecting the air intake and exhaust. This affects performance and can also pose a health risk if toxic fumes leak into your house instead of being expelled.
- Exhaust Pipes – Make sure that there’s no debris in flue pipes and screen the openings with heavy wire mesh to prevent birds and rodents from nesting in them. Cracked heat exchangers can leak harmful fumes into your home, so inspect them too.
- Fan/Air Mover – If the fans are not cycling properly, warm air may be distributed unevenly through the house. They can also increase power consumption, so check the fans and switches and make any adjustments necessary.
3. Power and Burners – Whether you’re using a gas furnace or an electrical one, the power supply needs to be both efficient and safe:
- Electricals – Problems with the electrical system causes a wide range of performance and safety issues, right from motor failure and tripping to a higher risk of fire. Inspect fan motors, the compressor and blower for amperage and voltage draw.
- Pilot Light – If the pilot light for your furnace is weak or flickering, it could have been extinguished by fluctuations in the gas supply. This will lead to the furnace not working at all, so check the pilot light and control assembly on a regular basis.
- Burners – Soot, condensation, dust and other buildup can affect the functioning of the burners as well as raising the risk of other issues. Make sure you schedule an annual cleaning for the burner assembly, and replace any worn out burners right away.
4. Mechanical Units – Like any other appliance, your furnace relies on all its mechanical components for smooth and effective functioning:
- Gas Lines – Inspect the entire line for leaks, cracks or other damage, right from the main inlet area to the burners. Do this with a damp, soapy rag and make sure you don’t miss any spots, especially along the joints.
- Drive System – If the belts and pulleys in the drive system are damaged or loose, they can cause performance issues with the furnace. Check for any signs of wear and tear, and ensure that pulleys are not wobbly while in use.
- Lubricant – Thoroughly lubricate all moving parts, joints, motors and bearings, since poor lubrication causes a wide range of problems. Increased friction will not only lead to drumming or screeching noises, but will also impact air flow in the system.
- Complete Unit – After you complete the rest of your furnace maintenance, check whether any debris or tools have been left inside the unit before replacing the unit panels. Also ensure that all the screws and bolts in the unit are tightly fastened.
Stay alert for any issues affecting your furnace, especially unusual noises, smells or changes in performance. Proper maintenance can keep your system in top shape for years, so schedule a furnace maintenance regularly. Call Service Champions – our team will be glad to help with your HVAC inspection and maintenance needs!