Even if your furnace seems to work just right, it’s essential that you schedule regular maintenance. Have a licensed technician inspect your unit before the beginning of the cold season. Furnace tune-ups involve cleaning, lubricating, adjusting, and testing the parts as needed. A well-maintained furnace will keep your house cozy throughout winter, and it will run more efficiently, saving you on utility bills. The technician can easily spot signs of trouble during tune-ups and fix them early enough to prevent unexpected breakdowns. Here are some tasks that you should expect as part of your furnace maintenance.
1. Inspecting the Air Filter
The professional will begin by inspecting the condition of the air filters. If clogged, they can choose to clean or replace them. Note that the air filter draws out dust particles, pollen, pet dander, and other contaminants from the air. When neglected, these pollutants can build up, clog the filters, and impede airflow. Your furnace will thus begin to work harder to maintain desirable indoor conditions. Although a professional will help you clean the filter during tune-ups, you should clean it yourself every three months.
The process of cleaning or changing the air filters is pretty straightforward. Turn off the furnace, and locate the filter inside the air vent. Grab the filter, slide it out, and hold it up against the light. If the filter is clogged, check if it’s washable or replaceable. For the reusable models, simply replace the old one with a new one. For the washable filter, vacuum it to clear off loose dirt. Spray a light detergent on the filter and then rinse it gently with a hose. Allow the filter to dry completely and replace it.
2. Checking the Thermostat
Preventive maintenance also involves checking the thermostat to see if it works correctly. The thermostat signals the furnace to kick on and shut off once the house attains the set temperature. A malfunctioning thermostat will affect the entire heating process. Begin by checking the thermostat settings. Ensure that it’s at the heat position at least 5 degrees above the room temperature. If you can’t recall the last time you changed the thermostat batteries, it might be time to change them. Next, remove the top cover on the thermostat and brush it off since dust can interfere with the operations. Now, test whether the thermostat controls the furnace correctly, and if not, call a professional to diagnose and fix the issue.
3. Condensate Drain Cleaning
High-efficiency furnaces with two heat exchangers generate water during heating. When natural gas gets heated, it produces carbon dioxide and water. The water drains out of the unit through the condensate drain lines. So if these lines get clogged, water will back up into the system and can cause severe damage. Look for the drain hose on your furnace, and if it seems dirty, try using a dry vacuum to suck out the clogs. Flush the drain with vinegar and hot water to soften any remaining debris. Flush it again with water to see if it flows out freely.
4. Cleaning and Adjusting the Pilot Lights
The pilot light also gets clogged with carbon residues, so it requires periodic cleaning. A healthy pilot light should produce a bluish flame for natural gas or a bluish-green flame for propane. If the pilot light has a yellow flame, it indicates incomplete combustion. To clean the pilot light, begin by turning off the gas. Locate the pilot light by reading through the user’s manual. Use a brush to scrape off the soot at the tip carefully. You can then use compressed air to blow out soot buildup that you couldn’t access with a brush. If the pilot light appears too small, you can adjust it by turning the adjustment screw counterclockwise. This process is very delicate, and if you aren’t used to such tasks, leave it to professionals. If the thermocouple is faulty, the technician will also help replace it.
5. Carbon Monoxide Leak Tests
The technician will inspect the heat exchanger for cracks that lead to carbon monoxide leaks during preventive maintenance. They will also test the carbon dioxide detector and replace the batteries if needed. Pay attention to heavy condensation that appears on the windows or dark stains around the furnace. Also, if your unit produces exhaust-like gases, it could mean a carbon monoxide leak. If you notice any such signs, turn off the furnace immediately, open the doors and windows for ventilation, evacuate the house, and call a professional to assess and fix the issue.
6. Parts Lubrication
Furnace tune-ups should also include complete parts lubrication. The mechanical components will require frequent lubrication to prevent friction between parts and promote smooth operations. If you see oil ports on the motor, it means that this part needs manual lubrication. Apply a few drops of motor oil over the blower and inducer fans to ensure that they rotate freely. Be careful not to over-lubricate, and if you aren’t sure, you can always seek professional help. The technician will even check the belts while lubricating and replace them if necessary.
7. Cleaning and Inspecting the Ductwork
The furnace uses ducts to supply warm air into your house during winter. Once the ductwork accumulates dirt, the unit can recirculate such particles into your home, posing a health risk. Dirty ductwork also increases contaminants in your indoor air causing your furnace to work extra harder. Therefore, ensure that you clean the ducts often. Use a damp cloth to clean the entrance of the ductwork for as far as you can reach. Call a professional for thorough duct cleaning, especially in hard-to-reach areas. During maintenance, you also need to check the ducts for leaks. Have a professional seal the gaps and insulate the ductwork where necessary.
8. Inspecting Electrical Wires and Controls
During maintenance, a technician will check the electrical components and controls. You can do some minor electrical inspection like checking the condition of the electric system. Turn off the unit, open the access panel, and inspect the connections. If you see some rusty or loose wires, call a professional immediately. Never attempt to repair the electrical issues on your own. You might cause further damage to the unit. During tune-ups, the technician will tighten the electrical connections, replace damaged wiring, and test the system’s safety control. This will ensure the safe operation of your furnace.
Schedule Professional Furnace Maintenance Services
You should plan for professional furnace tune-ups at least once per year just before the winter sets in. This will keep your equipment in top shape, and it will make it through the cold months without needing emergency repairs. Routine maintenance can also prolong the life of your unit, so you will get the most out of your investment. By conducting some maintenance tasks, you will familiarize yourself with the furnace system to know how everything should run. This way, you can quickly identify signs of malfunction and call a technician early enough to avoid inconveniencing breakdowns.
Whenever you need expert furnace tune-up services, get in touch with Oak Island Heating and Air Conditioning. We offer high-quality AC and heating systems solutions in San Marcos, CA, and the surrounding areas. Our company also provides indoor air quality and heat pump services. Call us now to request our services or book an appointment online.