Unless it is acting up, many homeowners don’t think about regularly maintaining their furnaces. Unfortunately, prolonged neglect can lead to premature breakdown and loss of efficiency, plus even risk the health and safety of family members within the home. It is recommended that homeowners schedule a yearly tune-up to help keep their furnace running for as long as possible.
The best time to have your furnace inspected is at the start of fall when the weather begins to change and the temperatures are more moderate. This way, if there is anything wrong with the furnace, it can be repaired or replaced before you absolutely must rely on the heat to survive the colder winter days.
If you have never had your furnace inspected, or you just moved into a home and are unsure of its maintenance history, you can have peace of mind this winter by setting up a tune-up with a licensed professional. You may be wondering what all is included in a furnace tune-up and if they are really worth it if your furnace isn’t presenting with any noticeable issues. Below you will discover more about the tune-up process and what long-term benefits you can expect afterward.
What happens during a furnace tune-up?
When you call for a furnace tune-up from a reputable company, you can expect a licensed professional to thoroughly inspect the internal parts of your furnace, clean dirt and grime off of vulnerable spots, and test the function of your furnace. This appointment usually lasts under an hour but helps your furnace run at maximum efficiency all winter long. While a technician is performing the tune-up, they may:
- Clean the coils, fan blades, blower, and drain line.
- Lubricate parts of the motor.
- Check for wear and tear or cracks throughout the unit.
- Inspect the wires for security and functionality.
- Measure airflow.
- Replace the air filter or clean the filter if reusable.
- Test the thermostat.
- Check pilot light and gas burners.
- Complete minor repairs as needed.
With a gas-powered furnace, it is especially important to check the pilot light for signs of carbon monoxide leaks. If you don’t have a carbon monoxide detector near your furnace and other gas-powered appliances, you may want to consider investing in one for the health and safety of your family. A technician will usually check for signs of a carbon monoxide leak during a tune-up, but you will want the security of backup detection if one manifests over the course of the season.
Carbon monoxide gas is often odorless and difficult to notice until damaging health effects have already taken place. Sudden nausea and difficulty concentrating are two obvious signs of carbon monoxide poisoning.
Some other signs of a carbon monoxide leak are a yellow or orange pilot light flame instead of blue, a pilot light that has trouble staying lit, soot streaks near the furnace, and increased condensation on windows. If you notice any of these signs, leave your home immediately and call a professional for inspection and repair. A carbon monoxide leak can be deadly for vulnerable adults, children, and pets.
What are the benefits of a yearly furnace tune-up?
Like any modern machine, regular maintenance is required on your furnace to keep it running smoothly and efficiently. Furnaces are often compared to vehicles, in that regular oil changes are absolutely necessary for the health of the car like regular maintenance is necessary for the longevity of your furnace. Putting off maintenance year after year will lead to internal parts breaking faster and more often.
Prolonged neglect in this way costs homeowners more money in the long-run than if they would have simply scheduled a tune-up instead. While some smaller parts may eventually need to be replaced over the lifetime of your furnace, it will still remain less at risk of major motor failure if you keep up on regular inspections and preventative maintenance. With a yearly tune-up, you may benefit from:
- Early detection of repair or replacement needs.
- Maximum efficiency of the unit.
- A home that warms up faster.
- Lower energy costs.
- A longer-lasting unit.
- A protected warranty.
When your unit is checked regularly, your technician can alert you to upcoming repairs and when a total replacement is necessary so you can budget for these costs in advance rather than be surprised by them when it becomes an emergency. This can also help you avoid having to live without heat while you wait on a repair or replacement for a broken furnace in the middle of winter.
Not only can you avoid this uncomfortable reality with a tune-up, but you can also enjoy faster warm-up speeds and lower energy costs year after year. With every passing year, your furnace wears out a little bit more and gets closer to the end of its lifespan. Without tune-ups, you may be hit with a total replacement much sooner than what you are ready for.
Even if your furnace seems to be working fine now or is brand-new, yearly maintenance is still necessary. Not only do you get a head start on keeping your unit clean and efficient, but you will also help protect its warranty in the event that an issue does arise. Many manufacturers require proof of professional yearly maintenance to uphold the warranty policy. Although a furnace should last much longer than the initial warranty period, you won’t want to risk voiding it if you need an expensive emergency repair or replacement.
Do I need a tune-up if my furnace is already malfunctioning?
Tune-ups are often performed on furnaces that are still functioning. If your furnace is having issues, doesn’t heat your home, or won’t turn on at all, you may require repair service instead. Going with the vehicle example again, you wouldn’t take your car in for an oil change if it suddenly had problems accelerating. You would take it in for an inspection and repair appointment instead.
Before calling in a professional for help, there are a few steps you can take to troubleshoot a malfunctioning furnace. These are outlined below.
- Change the filter. If your furnace is having trouble heating your home in an adequate amount of time, your air filter could be dirty. A homeowner should change the air filter in their HVAC unit at least once every three months for maximum efficiency. A clogged air filter can reduce the airflow within the furnace, making it harder for the furnace to properly function.
- Double-check thermostat. A dead thermostat or one that isn’t turned to the right setting can be the cause of a malfunctioning furnace. You may have to replace the batteries in your thermostat and raise the temperature to get your furnace to kick on. If your thermostat still has no display after replacing the batteries, then there may be a problem with your wiring or you may have to get a new thermostat.
- Open vents. Closed vents throughout the home not only prevent heat from reaching these rooms, but the increased pressure can be hard on your system as well. Keeping the vents open will help your furnace run more efficiently and protect it from expensive part failures.
- Check the breaker box and power switch. Sometimes a non-functioning furnace is due to a lack of power to the unit. Check your breaker box for any flipped switches. If the furnace switch was tripped and it keeps tripping after a reset, you may have to call an electrician to repair the breaker or upgrade your breaker box to supply your furnace with the right amount of power. There is also a furnace power switch located on the wall near the furnace that could have been accidentally turned off. Turn this switch on and wait a few minutes before trying to run your furnace.
- Clean the drain line. A block in the condensate drain line can reduce the functionality and efficiency of your unit. If you notice water pooling near your furnace, this is a good indication that there is a blockage or leak with the drain line. Clean or replace this drain line to see if this fixes the issue.
Once you have completed these troubleshooting steps and your furnace is still not meeting your heating standards or not functioning at all, you may have to call for professional help. Boulden Brothers offer 24/7 emergency service for situations such as this. Don’t hesitate to call if your furnace has a problem and you need immediate repair. Our trained and professional technicians are ready to assist.