A home furnace and heating system is an important component of the home. Even though it is most relied on during the cold winter months, it is also an important tool for the management of a home’s indoor temperature throughout the year. Like any other equipment though, the efficiency of a furnace depends on the quality of its maintenance.
A poorly maintained furnace is more likely to waste energy, deliver sub-optimal output, release harmful emissions and fail when it’s needed the most. Proper regular maintenance also saves you the hefty bills you would incur if you put off servicing your furnace for extended periods of time. To ensure your home’s furnace is always in great shape and is ready when you need it, apply these practical maintenance tips.
1. Start Early
Don’t wait until you really need the furnace to begin carrying out maintenance. It would be distressing, dangerous and expensive if your furnace were to fail on the coldest day of the winter.
Therefore, schedule maintenance for the times when you do not need to use it, such as when the weather is mild or warm. That way, you will have more than enough lead time to identify problem areas, acquire furnace replacement parts and embark on repairs.
2. Do the Eye Test
Tackle the obvious before you address what is hidden from view. Before you embark on anything extensive, begin with a quick visual inspection.
If you have a propane or natural gas furnace, ensure the venting pipe is angled and fastened securely. The drainage tubes should be fastened securely as well. Smell around the gas line. If there is a scent of rotten eggs, there could be a gas leak and you should call a professional.
3. Clear Drain Tube
Gas furnaces produce droplets of water when they heat. Some of it is discharged as exhaust steam. Much of it drains to a drip pan, which is often shared with the air conditioner. If the drain tube clogs, water may fill the power exhaust manifold causing the flame sensor to shut down the system.
Keep the drain tube clear by separating it from the manifold as well as blowing compressed air through the tube and pipe. To prevent clogging and buildup in the future, pour white vinegar through the tube and pipe on a regular basis.
4. Examine Thermostat Wires
Before you begin any furnace maintenance, you have to shut off the power. Still, confirm you have done so before you start working on the thermostat wires. Once you confirm you are in the clear, remove the furnace doors. Give the thermostat wires a pull to ensure they are correctly fitted and tightly in position.
5. Clear Dust, Dirt and Debris
Dirt, debris and dust can inhibit furnace performance or stop it from working completely. You can avoid this problem by dusting and vacuuming the furnace. Use a soft paint brush to loosen any debris and dust that may have taken hold in the furnace’s inner components. After you finish brushing, you could use a portable vacuum to finish the job.
6. Clean Flame Sensor
A gas furnace’s flame sensor can prevent it from working as well as it should, so this is one component you must clean at least once a year. Unscrew the flame sensor and as you hold its bottom, and clean with an abrasive cloth, such as an emery cloth. Once the furnace’s flame sensor is clean enough, you can replace it and reinstall the door.
While the majority of American homes are heated with electric, propane or natural gas furnaces, there are a variety of options available when it comes to a heating system. These include baseboard heaters, radiant heaters, geothermal heat pumps and steam radiator heaters.
Some heating systems such as radiant floor heating require little, to no maintenance. On the other hand, heat pumps need annual tune-ups just like air conditioners. Irrespective of the heating system your home has, maintenance is crucial. If you are unclear about what you need to do to correctly maintain your furnace, get in touch with the installer or an expert contractor.