A furnace is a complex piece of equipment, and it works hard to generate heat to keep our homes comfortable, no matter what the weather is doing outside. Like any appliance, a furnace has a certain service life based on the quality of the equipment and other key factors. How often the furnace is used and how it’s cared for play a very large part in the length of the service life. Replacing a furnace is a significant investment, and if we can delay that for even a few years, we can save a lot of money without compromising on indoor comfort and energy efficiency. In this article, we will take a look at how you can extend the service life of your furnace.
The Importance of Preventative Furnace Maintenance
Think for a moment about your car; it’s a complex piece of equipment with mechanical, electronic, and electrical components, and it requires a regular annual service. A furnace is no different, and yet people believe that they can ignore the needs of their heating equipment with no consequences. When a new furnace is installed, it has a certain level of efficiency, and this degrades every year. Components will wear, and this can lead to a loss of performance and energy efficiency. So, it’s important to understand that, like any complex appliance, a furnace does need regular attention from a qualified technician to work as the manufacturer intended.
What Happens During a Heating System Service?
It’s a great idea to schedule some annual preventative maintenance for your furnace before the start of each heating season. Some people leave this too late, and the weather has already become colder, and they may be left without heat during the servicing. Another consideration is the availability of certified HVAC technicians in your area. Most people leave the servicing late or don’t schedule any at all, and when they turn their furnace on after a summer of inactivity, it fails. So. HVAC technicians are often very busy at the start of the heating season, and this can make it harder to get a prompt visit. If you schedule the service before the weather gets colder, there will be less demand, and you can get your furnace ready in advance. Ask your HVAC company about an annual maintenance contract; then, they will remind you when preventative maintenance is required, and you could save a significant amount of money on servicing costs.
During a typical furnace inspection, the HVAC technician will carry out several checks to ensure that the furnace is performing well, safe to use, and operating as energy efficiently as possible. This will include the following three checks:
- Replacing the Air Filter
Every HVAC system needs adequate levels of airflow to function correctly. When the airflow is impeded or restricted, this will cause the HVAC system to work harder, and this can lead to a loss in performance and even a premature breakdown. A system that’s working harder also uses more energy, and this will drive up your utility bills. The HVAC technician will inspect the air filter and clean it or replace it as required to ensure that the system receives adequate airflow. This is also a task that any homeowner can perform between professional maintenance visits. The air filter should be inspected and cleaned or changed at least once per month. The full details on this procedure will be in the owner’s manual, and if you have misplaced it, you can check online for a pdf manual for your make and model.
- Cleaning and Oiling the Blower Fan
The HVAC system relies on a blower fan to push the treated air (hot or cold) out into the ductwork and then throughout the entire home. The treated air that’s emitted through each vent cannot be delivered effectively if there is a problem with the blower motor fan. Over time the fan blades can become dusty and dirty, and this will throw the blower off balance affecting the even delivery of treated air. Another potential problem is the blower motor, which needs to be lubricated to reduce the level of friction within the unit. If the blower motor isn’t lubricated regularly, the motor can overheat, and it will eventually fail. The HVAC technician can clean the blades and lubricate the motor to avoid component failure, boost performance, and improve energy efficiency.
- Fan Belt Tension Check
The furnace has a fan belt, which can become loose over time, leading to a loss of performance. A loose fan belt is more likely to slip off or break entirely, and this can lead to an interruption in heating from your furnace when you need it most. An HVAC technician performing preventative maintenance will check problems like a loose fan belt and many others before they become a major problem. An early fix is often easier and less expensive than addressing the problem later on.
Preventative Maintenance Improves Safety
A furnace can be dangerous if it isn’t inspected by a certified HVAC technician regularly. A gas leak can cause a housefire or even an explosion if it isn’t detected early and fixed. Many people already know about the dangers of toxic carbon monoxide from unburned fuel, and they should have a detector installed. But, these levels need to be monitored periodically, and the furnace needs to be professionally inspected to ensure that it’s safe to use. A crack in the heat exchanger may not be visible to the naked eye, but this can release carbon monoxide, and it can cause a house fire. The HVAC technician will also calibrate the thermostat, clean the furnace components, and check for ductwork leaks.
As you can see, preventative maintenance will improve the performance of your furnace and improve the energy efficiency. A well maintained furnace is safer to use, it will be less likely to breakdown down, and the service life should be longer. When you consider the alternative, an annual service for your furnace is a bargain, and it will deliver peace of mind when the weather turns colder.