Don’t wait until it’s too late — this is what most HVAC and furnace repair servicemen will tell you. But the reality is that most homeowners do, and it can really put you out of pocket. Your furnace, just like any other large appliance in your home, is something we tend to neglect and forget about. When, in fact, regular furnace cleaning and inspection is an important part of owning a home. Just as important as any other form of maintenance.
Here’s why you don’t want to leave it until your furnace breaks down and you’re left with bills you just didn’t plan for — read on for more.
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Furnace Cleaning and Inspection: What Does It Entail?
Well, the answer might seem obvious, but furnace maintenance includes far more than simply replacing your filters. A thorough furnace tune-up is the best way to adjust, test, clean and ensure your furnace shows no signs of throwing in the towel.
Here’s what you can expect from a professional clean and inspection:
- A comprehensive inspection of the vent system and air intake parts
- Removal of any blockages, dirt, and grime in the vent system
- An overview of the heat exchange system, looking for any signs of corrosion or damage
- Inspection of your furnace blower and removal of debris, dust, or mold buildup
- An inspection of your blower motor
- A review of all electrical components to ensure all connections remain in-tact
- Replacement of damaged wiring and electrical connections
- An overview of the furnace burner and flame sensor
- Belt and thermostat investigation — calibrating parts where necessary
Not only this, but a full service includes lubrication of all moving parts, as well as thorough cleaning, fine-tuning, and checking the system’s safety controls. If you have an older, gas-powered furnace, the service also includes an examination of fuel lines and any potential leaks. They’ll also check the gas pressure, the quality of the burner, the pilot, and more.
How Often Is Furnace Maintenance Necessary?
Most homeowners have this idea that furnace maintenance depends on how often you use your furnace. While there is some measure of truth to this, you shouldn’t only rely on frequency-of-use for your furnace inspections and cleaning.
As a general rule-of-thumb, you want to stick to this basic maintenance routine:
- Annual maintenance: this is important to keep your furnace running in optimal condition and will maintain the health of your home’s indoor air quality
- Bi-annual maintenance: you want to have your furnace cleaned and inspected twice a year if anyone living in your home suffers from respiratory conditions or a compromised immunity
- Before winter hits: if you live in a region that experiences extremely cold winters and plenty of snow, you must inspect and fine-tune your furnace before the change of season
Even if you experience mild winters in your region, it’s still a good idea to inspect your furnace before the weather changes. This way, you won’t be stuck with a faulty furnace when you need it most and won’t have to pay higher rates for furnace repair!
Why Should Furnace Maintenance Be a Priority?
When it’s all said and done, you want to keep your furnace in top condition for one main reason: safety. The health of your family should always be a top priority, and keeping your furnace fine-tuned on a yearly basis can ensure that. Here are some other undeniable benefits:
1. Maintain System Efficiency
Okay, so this is a no-brainer. With regular inspections and tune-ups, you can keep your furnace ticking over as it should. Essentially, you’re doing yourself a favor by ensuring all moving parts and electrical connections remain intact. By doing so, you keep your energy bills where they should be and save yourself precious pennies in the long run.
2. Reduce the Risk of Recurring Break Downs
It’s no secret that breakdowns that seem to happen over and over again can really eat away at your savings. While all furnaces are not impervious to niggles here and there, expensive and regular breakdowns are a result of poor and neglected maintenance.
In short, you can reduce the risk of having to shell out your hard-earned money on repeat furnace blowouts with regular annual/bi-annual inspections.
3. Home and Family Safety
As mentioned earlier, regular furnace maintenance is the best way to maintain the health and safety of your family while they’re under your roof. Let it be known that when a furnace breaks down, there are a number of risks that can crop up.
One of the most serious of these is carbon monoxide poisoning which is a silent killer in any home. Your furnace naturally produces this noxious gas without proper maintenance due to leaks and system buildup.
With regular inspections, you can reduce the risk of living in and amongst these harmful and even deadly emissions. Not only this, but gas furnaces are prone to gas leaks over time, which is also a major fire hazard in any home.
4. Improved Indoor Air Quality
Another important factor to consider is how your furnace affects the air you breathe in your home. While indoor air quality is not something we tend to think about or even prioritize, it can have a major impact on your overall health.
Poor air quality can bring on allergies, instances of asthma and asthma attacks, headaches, sinus infections, poor sleep quality, and more. This is especially important to consider if you have infants/toddlers in the home or immune-compromised family members.
By keeping your furnace in good condition, you can keep your home’s air quality clean and healthy.
5. Prolong Its Lifespan
The more you neglect your furnace, the shorter you can rely on it to work — plain and simple. As with any appliance in your home, regular maintenance helps to improve its lifespan.
To add to this, each time your furnace packs up and needs repair, the more its warranty wears away. It’s like a domino effect as the more maintenance it needs, the poorer its lifespan becomes.
Why You Shouldn’t DIY Your Furnace Repair/Inspection
No matter how much DIY experience you have around the house, furnace repair is not something you want to tackle on your own. Unless, of course, you specialize in furnace repair and maintenance.
This is because it’s is relatively dangerous and also requires specific tools and equipment for the job. Here’s why DIY is never a good idea:
1. Working With Gas Is Dangerous
Believe it or not, one of the most popular heating systems in many homes across the U.S. is a gas-powered furnace. Overall, 47 percent of households use natural gas furnaces.
Despite some element of risk, this doesn’t mean gas furnaces are not safe — it’s the exact opposite. But when it comes to furnace repair, there’s plenty of room for error when working with gas lines.
You need a professional to take the reins because they have the expertise, the equipment, and a trained eye to spot any issues, such as looming gas leaks and fire hazards.
2. Poor Repairs Lead To Deadly Accidents
When you’re dealing with a furnace, you’re not only dealing with gas but the element of heat, too. This makes DIY repair even riskier. A faulty repair job can have dire and even deadly consequences for anyone living under your roof.
Whether it’s a slow gas leak that could lead to a major fire/explosion, or a carbon monoxide leak that you’re unable to identify, there’s just too much risk involved. It’s always best to recruit the expertise of a professional.
3. A Risk of Electrocution
If you don’t know your way around basic electrical wiring standards, then you need to avoid DIY furnace repair at all costs. This only increases your risk of electrocution as you try to figure out the many electrical components of a furnace.
Unlike a professional, you might not know which components to avoid, how to replace components correctly or have the foresight to use the right tools. In short, this is not only dangerous to you, but could also compromise the function of your furnace even further.
4. You Jeopardize Your Warranty
This is pretty standard for any type of DIY work on most appliances around your home. If you choose to DIY your repairs, there’s a high chance you could void the warranty on the appliance.
If parts break, you can usually blame that on the manufacturer and claim for the repair as part of your warranty. But if you choose to open up your furnace and replace parts with sub-par quality dupes, you can kiss your warranty goodbye.
And the next time your furnace breaks down, it’s most likely that you will not be able to claim for repair from the warranty. So this is yet another reason why DIY repair is a no-go!
When Is It Time To Replace a Furnace?
So, if your furnace keeps packing in and you’ve spent far too much money on repairs, when is it time to throw in the towel and purchase a new one?
Bear in mind that it can save you money, in the long run, to completely replace a furnace, rather than throwing money at repairs that just won’t turn back the hands of time. Here’s what to consider:
1. It’s Near the End of Its Lifespan
On average, the lifespan of a furnace is between 15-30 years. If you moved into a new home and do not know how old the furnace is, you want to find out from the previous owners beforehand. This way, you have an idea of when to plan for its replacement.
As mentioned previously, the best way to prolong the lifespan is with regular maintenance. But sometimes, even regular inspections won’t save a furnace that’s nearing the end of its days.
If your furnace is 15 years old, you’ll need to start saving for its replacement in the next couple of years. However, the lifespan of a furnace also depends on how much you use it and the fuel it uses.
When it comes time for replacement, you might want to think about an electrical furnace as they boast a longer lifespan of 20-30 years.
2. Your Furnace Is Far Too Noisy
When your furnace is running normally, on a day-to-day basis, you shouldn’t be able to hear it. It should run in the background without you even having to think about it — this is the mark of a healthy furnace.
So, if your furnace begins to rattle, or make a popping, humming, or screeching sound, you know this is not normal. And it could be high time for a replacement. You can call in the expertise of a professional to investigate these sounds. But a noisy furnace is usually a sign that’s near the end of its lifespan and not much can fix that.
3. You Can’t Maintain a Steady Home Temperature
The point of a healthy, functioning furnace is to keep your home warm, at a steady temperature, right? Well, if it’s failing to fulfill this duty, then you know it’s time to consider a replacement.
One of the most common signs of this is sudden temperature changes between rooms in your home. While you can call in a professional for a quick inspection of what’s going on, it’s most likely that they’ll recommend furnace replacement.
4. Mounting Repair Costs and Energy Bills
Finally, if you’ve spent far too much money on repairing your furnace and can’t face spending any more than you already have, then it’s time to consider a replacement. Yes, replacing your furnace will cost you a fair penny initially, but it can save you a ton of money down the line, and the headache, too!
As a general rule, you need to consider furnace replacement if the repair cost is more than half of the replacement cost.
The same goes for a steadily increasing energy bill. If you notice that your energy consumption is much higher than usual, the first place you need to look is your furnace. Old and tired models can chew into your energy budget, and it’s just not worth it.
Home Improvement Hacks at Your Fingertips
Furnace cleaning and inspection is not something you want to put on the back-burner, (pun intended!) All you have to do is schedule it in as part of your annual maintenance checklist and you can keep repair and replacement costs at a bare minimum.
If you found this article helpful, you don’t want to miss out on the rest of the home improvement hacks we offer on this site! Explore at your leisure for your fix of content as a proud and passionate homeowner.