You know that regular furnace maintenance is important to keep your HVAC system running efficiently. It can increase the life expectancy of your system and prevent future problems. But what activities can you do for yourself, and what requires a professional? You can perform some basic furnace maintenance on your own. The more complex tasks require the specialized tools and knowledge of a professional technician.
DIY Furnace Maintenance
No matter what type of furnace you have, you’ll need to change the filters regularly. A furnace filter should be replaced every 30 to 90 days. Your furnace is like the lungs of your HVAC system. If it becomes dirty or clogged, it affects everything else. Do some research into air filter types to ensure you’re choosing the correct one. You can’t just vacuum or hose off a disposable air filter. If you aren’t sure which type of air filter you have, bring it to your local hardware store. They should be able to help you find a similar model.
While not technically furnace maintenance, you will want to make sure you keep the area around the furnace clear of debris, storage, and boxes. Furnaces are typically tucked away in an attic, crawlspace, basement, or closet. Throughout the year, seasonal decorations, toys, and other items may accumulate around the furnace. A furnace needs good ventilation to work optimally. Clear at least a foot or two of space around your furnace.
Check the Outside
The gases created by your furnace are carried up and out of your home via the exhaust pipe. During the year, the exhaust pipe can become clogged by dirt and debris. During spring cleaning (or your annual maintenance), check on the exhaust pipe. Soggy leaves, bird nests, and even critters can make their way into your exhaust pipe. If it snows frequently, you may want to take a look at the pipe to ensure it isn’t clogged with snow or ice. Your furnace needs to be able to vent freely to avoid harmful gases entering your home. To be on the safe side, install a carbon monoxide and smoke detector near your furnace.
Professional Furnace Maintenance
According to the Department of Energy, most furnace maintenance truly does require an expert. Venting problems can be difficult for the layman to diagnose, and furnaces have complex components that rely on one another to work properly.
Cleaning and Repair
Dirt is the biggest enemy to your furnace. Cleaning seems like it should be an easy task, but furnace parts are surprisingly fragile. Attempting to clean the furnace yourself without the proper tools or training could cause damage.
Some parts of your furnace are easily disassembled with a screwdriver, but the furnace isn’t meant to come to pieces. A technician knows which panels to remove for cleaning, and which screws should remain tightened!
Does your furnace have oil ports? They may need a special type of lubrication. Got grease cups? You’ll need bearing lubricant. Belts that are worn or frayed might have to be replaced as well. Even if your furnace components don’t need to be replaced, they should be checked on annually to avoid any future problems.
Testing and Calibration
Your furnace maintenance technician will bring tools to test for leaks, airflow, and fuel pressure. If your furnace has a pilot or igniter, the technician will make sure it is working properly. The thermostat is another component of your furnace. A poorly calibrated thermostat can cause a lot of frustration. The tech checks the thermostat controls to ensure that when you’re changing the temperature settings, your furnace is getting the message!
You can (and should!) perform basic furnace maintenance like changing the air filter and keeping the outside of the furnace clean. But to truly keep your furnace running safely and efficiently, it needs regular professional maintenance. Newcomb and Company offers comprehensive maintenance agreements. Twice a year, our technicians will come to your home and thoroughly clean, test, and maintain your entire HVAC system. Contact us today to schedule your furnace maintenance.