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Furnace Care and Troubleshooting

Keeping your furnace in shape can save you in the long run

The furnace, the unsung hero of the basement that doesnt typically get much attention until it stops working on a below-freezing day. But paying attention to your furnace may keep your utility costs down and stop you from feeling left in the cold. Homeowners can save money by extending the useful product life and reduce the severity and frequency of breakdowns if furnaces are properly maintained, says Dave Borowski, Director of Technical Training and spokesman for Direct Energy.

What does furnace maintenance involve?

The first and easiest step is to change your furnaces air filters a minimum of every three months,according to Energy Star, a joint program of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the U.S. Department of Energy. Dirty filters may make the furnace work harder, increase energy costs, damage equipment and lead to early furnace failure, according to Energy Star.

The next step is to set up a regular maintenance schedule. Energy Star recommends scheduling your pre-season furnace maintenance in early fall before contractors hit their busy winter season, and before you need to turn on your furnace.

Pay attention. If you notice anything unusual like a strange sound when the furnace starts, or water leaking from the unit it is always wise to call a technician to investigate your concerns.

My furnace is fine, why should I waste time on maintenance?

Even if your furnace seems to be doing its job, service and maintenance should still be a priority. Here are several reasons why:


The biggest motivator should be safety, Borowski says. Many furnaces are gas fired. This means they are at risk for carbon monoxide leaks and could be a fire hazard. An improper gas or oil connection, a dirty burner, or a crack in the heat exchange can also lead to health problems and make the equipment less safe, according to Energy Star.

Expect your furnace check up to include a review of the controls, gas pressure, burner combustion analysis and heat exchanger inspection. In addition, a contractor will evaluate the location of the furnace and make sure home remodeling or code changes havent made it unsafe, Borowski says.

Efficiency and performance

If your furnace is working harder, chances are its costing you more. Unless you notice an increase on your energy bill you may not be aware how hard your furnace is working.

During a checkup the contractor should also check the burner performance, temperature rises, and fan control settings, Borowski says.

A contractor can also let you know if your furnace is up to current standards and whether updates or a replacement are recommended.

Longevity and baseline maintenance

Just like oil changes for your car, experts say a homes mechanical systems both heating and cooling should get checkups to keep them running too.

Annual baseline maintenance should include cleaning, lubricating parts, and checking all controls and vents for air flow volume, says Borowski. It is also a good idea, he says, to have ducts cleaned at least every five years.

To learn more about protecting your furnace, click here or call us at (855) 334-3577.