A broken furnace is the last thing you want to deal with in the middle of winter. A dangerous furnace is even worse. A simple annual tune-up is the best way to prevent these problems - most furnace issues are completely preventable.
A quick tune-up now can identify problems with the furnace before they become major issues. Think of it like a tune-up for your car. Identifying and fixing a small oil leak now can prevent thousands of dollars in engine damage down the road.
Here is our checklist of essential tasks during every tune-up. If you’re handy, you can go through (most of) the list yourself. If not, call in a professional: The price of a tune-up will be far less than an emergency repair call in the middle of January.
- Inspect and clean air filters, changing if needed. A dirty filter can damage your furnace and increase energy bills. (This is always part of a professional tune-up, but you should inspect filters on your own once a month.)
- Check and clean all blower components. Remove any excess dirt to ensure proper airflow.
- Check system controls to make sure they’re operating safely and effectively, including high limit and safety controls. Make sure the furnace cycles on and off properly.
- Check and adjust the fan and air flow. Make sure the fan only comes on at the preset temperature for maximum efficiency.
- Lubricate all moving parts. A motor will not operate properly (which wastes energy) if it is not properly lubricated.
- Tighten all electrical connections. Loose connections can make your furnace unsafe and reduce its lifespan do to excess wear and tear.
- Check all gas or oil connections - a loose connection presents a fire hazard and can lead to health problems. Make sure the burner is clean and the heat exchanger is in tact - these pose health and safety risks, too. However, keep in mind that a chemical inspection is often required to locate dangerous cracks in the heat exchanger. This job is one for the pros.
- Check to make sure the thermostat is properly calibrated to ensure proper heating levels.
- Check belts for cracks and other signs of wear.
- Make sure the flue is not obstructed in any way.
- Clean and adjust the pilot if necessary.
Most professional tune-ups cost anywhere from $100 to $300 - far less than you’ll pay for an emergency service call or a new furnace. Typically, September and October and the ideal months for service - just prior to winter but before furnace companies enter their busy season.
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