The Importance of Annual Furnace Maintenance
Read our top reasons to have annual furnace tune-ups & 4 easy DIY checklist tips for you to start saving money now.
Now that winter is finally here, your furnace has probably become one of the most valuable assets you own for your property. Let’s hope you remembered to have your fall furnace tune-up completed before cranking up the heat. If not, there’s still time to get an inspection to optimize your heating capacity. There are even some quick tricks you can complete yourself.
This is important – especially if you own a furnace that’s over three to five years old. Any furnace that old is likely to have some inefficiency problems if you don’t provide adequate care and maintenance.
Though we always recommend you have your annual furnace tune-up completed each fall, there are certain things homeowners can handle by themselves before calling in professional help.
But before we delve into some useful DIY furnace tips, let’s revisit some of the benefits of annual furnace maintenance.
3 Reasons You Should Have an Annual Furnace Tune-Up
An inexpensive yearly furnace tune-up guarantees you the following benefits:
1 – Lower Energy Bills
Spending a relatively low amount on maintenance pays off throughout winter and spring. By regularly cleaning and maintaining your furnace, you can make sure your furnace is running efficiently and save energy.
The efficiency of your furnace also matters during winter emergencies, such as ice storms or blizzards. In those cases, you’ll likely be stuck indoors with snow and ice blocking roadways. As your heating fuel depletes, you’ll be unable to get more or go out for a quick fix if something breaks down.
2 – Improved Life Span
You’re probably well aware of how expensive a new furnace installation can be. So it’s wise to have your existing unit run smoothly by providing it with regular maintenance. This will improve the overall service life of the unit.
Don’t forget that the internal components of any heating unit are incredibly complicated. Even the slightest glitch could lead to severe malfunctions if it remains undetected over time.
3 – Mitigates Risks of Carbon Monoxide Poisoning
Carbon monoxide is the silent killer that can endanger your home if you’re not careful.
Carbon monoxide is a natural byproduct of any incomplete combustion. The fact that it doesn’t have any color, odor, or taste makes it hard to detect and, therefore, extremely dangerous. All gas furnaces produce a limited amount of carbon monoxide, which is harmlessly vented to the outside.
However, dirty or partially damaged furnaces may produce more of the chemicals than usual. If you have a gas furnace, invest in a carbon monoxide detector for your home.
Furnace Repair DIY Checklist
At Sig Cox Heating & Air Conditioning, we’re here to help you with all your heating and cooling requirements — big or small. Often, we come out to service simple things you can handle yourself.
To save our customers some money this fall, we’ve created a quick checklist of some of the essential things you should inspect before picking up the phone and calling for service.
#1 Check the Thermostat
If the unit is over three years old, you should check your thermostat for a few key issues.
Begin by ensuring that the thermostat is set to “heat.” Then, monitor the temperature setting to make sure you have turned the unit to the temperature you want.
Finally, you will want to check if the thermostat is activating the furnace (it should). You can check it by turning the temperature setting down below the current value and then quickly raising it about 6-7 degrees above the current temperature. Listen carefully for any noise, to make sure the furnace is up and running.
If you think your furnace is not responding the way it should, feel free to call the furnace experts. The repair cost may vary depending on the extent of damage — but in most cases, it sets you back $110 to $280 (including labor).
#2 Make Sure the Power is Working Fine
Almost every furnace system today uses electricity to power itself — even natural gas furnaces. While this may sound obvious, you should always double-check that the power switch is turned on before trying anything else.
You should also ensure the circuit breaker is turned on and working. If the furnace shuts off suddenly when you reset the breaks, you need to call a service technician. In that case, you probably have an electrical problem.
If there’s an issue with the blower motor or wiring, it may cost you around $150 for a simple fix and up to $450 for a complete replacement.
#3 Replace the Filters
Believe it or not, a considerable number of all service calls we receive are due to dirty or clogged air filters. You can quickly fix that on your own. But first, you need to be sure it’s an air filter that’s causing the issue. Here’s what you need to do:
Remove and hold the air filter up to a light. Can you see through it clearly? If you can, you’re in great shape! But if you can’t see through it, you’ll probably have to have it replaced.
Most air filters require replacements after one to two months of moderate use, or three months at most. Refer to the manufacturer’s instructions for the exact type of filter you’re using.
The price of furnace air filters varies depending on the brand, but it should not cost you more than $30 to $40 on average.
#4 Make Sure the Pilot Light is Working
All gas furnaces come with a pilot light tucked behind a small plate (or door) around the unit’s base. You should always ensure this component is lit, or else the furnace won’t have an ignition source to work correctly.
If you find your pilot light is turned off, you can try lighting it using a grill igniter or something similar. If you can’t get it lit and working, call us, and our service engineers will be on your doorstep in no time.
You might find the furnace is tucked away in an awkward or tight space that you won’t feel comfortable working on with a lighter. Don’t risk an accident with flammable material around you.
Fixing a pilot light malfunction can cost around $175 to $600, depending on the extent of damage (and the presence of other related issues).
You should also inspect these other issues:
- Check the fuel supply, whether it’s gas or oil. You might need a refill.
- Monitor diagnostic flash codes, if any.
- Make sure there’s no accumulation of ice or frozen pipes.
- Beware of faulty panel switches.
- Check for problems with condensation drain cut-off switches.
Is It Time To Replace My Furnace?
Being a homeowner is great — until it’s time to repair, refurbish, or replace something, especially something as important and costly as a furnace.
Do you know how to tell when it’s time to replace your furnace, though? Many homeowners are unaware of the signs to look for and end up only realizing it’s time for a replacement when their heater stops working altogether.
We know these unexpected and costly problems do nothing but disrupt your life, so we’ve decided to offer some advice on how to tell when it’s time to replace your furnace and how to go about doing so.
Signs Your Furnace Is on the Way Out
Below, we’ll review several signs to watch for that could mean it is time to replace your furnace:
- Your furnace is 15+ years old — their typical life span is no more than 18 years.
- Your heating bill has increased substantially — a variety of problems could cause this, one being that the internal parts in your furnace are starting to wear down or break.
- You’ve had to repair the furnace multiple times over the last few years.
- Your heater is making strange noises, like rattling or banging.
- Your thermostat settings aren’t consistent with your home’s temperature — your furnace may be having trouble evenly distributing the heat throughout your home.
- Your burner flame is yellow instead of blue — this is a sign your heater is producing carbon monoxide.
Choosing a New Furnace
Choosing what type of furnace to have installed can be confusing, as many new types and styles of furnaces are available. Which furnace will be the best fit for your home will largely depend on where you live, and the way your home is built. Here a few common types of heating systems.
Central Warm-Air Furnace
With this type of furnace, a central combustor using gas, fuel oil, or electricity provides warm air within the furnace, which is then circulated through ducts leading to various rooms in the house.
Hot Water Furnace
These furnaces work by heating water and sending it through pipes in the walls or ceiling of the home, or embedded in the home’s concrete slab foundation.
Floor/Wall Pipe-Free Furnace
These furnaces typically only heat one enclosed space. They are positioned under the floor or in the wall. They consist of a ductless combustor with an attached chamber where fuel is burned or electrical heat is generated to warm the room.
We Are Here To Help
All of us at Sig Cox Heating & Air Conditioning want to make replacing your furnace a smooth and stress-free process. From discovering what’s wrong with your current one to finding the best new furnace for your home and lifestyle and having it installed seamlessly, you can count on us.
To make sure your new furnace keeps you and your family warm for years to come, check out these tips.