Furnace Tune-Ups and Maintenance in Calgary
Annual Home Heating Inspections for Calgary Homes
Your furnace does more than keep you warm. It can help to keep you and your family healthy, too.
Conversely, if you neglect your furnace and just leave it in the basement to do its job year-on-year without performing the necessary checks, maintenance, and tune-up procedures, you’re asking for trouble.
A poorly working furnace puts your health at risk, as well as the warmth of your home in the depths of midwinter.
Why Is Maintaining Your Furnace So Important?
The furnace plays a central role in most Calgary, homes. It controls the temperature of the air and affects its quality too.
Even when it is idle in the summer months, a furnace gathers dust and debris from the air and this can impact performance when you turn it back on. The air may even contain bacteria and germs that are then circulated by the HVAC system upon startup: not a very healthy situation.
If you fail to keep your furnace clean and well-maintained, it impacts the quality of the air, which can, in turn, affect the physical and mental health of family members.
Fresh, clean air is a necessity that should not be compromised—especially when it is relatively easy to ensure with some preventative maintenance.
Ideally, you should perform a regular tune-up and cleaning of your furnace—not just when it breaks down.
If the components are regularly maintained, your furnace will be kept clean and dust-free, improving air quality. It is also an investment in the longevity of your furnace. After all, it should be no surprise to any homeowner that a well-maintained furnace lasts longer.
A clean furnace also ensures that your furnace is not using more energy than necessary—so it helps maintain efficiency and optimal performance too.
What’s Included During Your Furnace Tune-Up?
Whether your furnace and air conditioning systems are separate or combined, they need regular cleaning. Furnace cleaning and maintenance involves much more than simply replacing filters.
Most homeowners are not well-equipped to maintain their furnaces as a DIY project. Professionals are required to perform a thorough under-the-hood service from time to time.
This will start from the outer surface of the furnace (controls and the exterior unit) but go deep into the motor and ductwork, where most of the dust typically accumulates.
What's the Benefit of a Maintained Furnace?
Clean, fresh air that keeps those winter mornings toasty and warm in your home is the obvious benefit of a well-maintained furnace.
However, in many respects, a furnace is no different from any other appliance in your household regardless of the type. Keeping it clean and well-maintained results in:
- Fewer problems, breakdowns, and repairs
- A longer “life”
- Greater efficiency
Signs of a Neglected Furnace
Regular maintenance of your furnace is important to retain optimal performance. It will also help you save money from expensive repairs later on.
A neglected, un-serviced furnace may impact your HVAC system and may:
- Run with excessive power consumption (gas or electricity)
- Be less able to control the temperature in your home
- Become very noisy
- Be more likely to break down
- Be less able to manage indoor air quality
- Become unsafe
Servicing should consist of regular cleaning and testing all the vital mechanics of your furnace.
It’s important to have a once-yearly furnace tune-up, at least, for peace of mind and to avoid lengthy furnace repairs.
Ideally, you will get one of our technicians to check the furnace at the end of every heating season so that it’s all set and ready for the next.
Also note that to maintain the warranty for your furnace, some manufacturers insist on annual maintenance being performed.
What's Included in our Annual Furnace Tune-Up?
A professional tune-up will include the following maintenance checks:
- Exterior unit check
- Leak test
- Thermostat check
- Air filter check
- Furnace operation check
- Temperature rise and gas pressure checks
- Gas/gas line safety checks
- Ignition system check
- Clean pilot or flame sensor
- Clean burners and transfer ports
- Inspection of air-fuel mixture and combustion air
- Motor cooling ports cleaning
- Lubrication of motors
- Main blower and vent motor checks
- Shaft and bearings check
- Condition, tension, and alignment of belt check
- High-pressure safety check
- Heat exchanger inspection
- Vent system inspection
- Pressure switches and vacuum lines check
- Condensate line/trap check
- Vent damper check
- Carbon monoxide test
Changing Your Furnace Filters
One of the most important aspects of any furnace tune-up is regularly changing the furnace filters.
All air that circulates in your heating system must pass through the air filters—and their job is to filter out any impurities in the air.
Airborne contaminants such as dust, pollen, and mould are captured by the filters and prevented from circulating in the heating system. The higher the efficiency of your furnace, the more contaminants and impurities it will generally catch.
So, it stands to reason that if these impurities are allowed to build up and clog the filters in any way, it hampers performance and starts to compromise the air quality in the home.
Filters should be checked once a month and changed if necessary. If light can’t pass through them, they should be changed. In any case, it’s best not to leave filters for longer than three months without changing them.
Most homeowners can do this job effectively with a little know-how.
When Should You Clean Your Furnace and Ducts?
Furnaces and ducts should be cleaned at least every two years. If there are obvious signs before then of ductwork or vents being clogged with dust, don’t delay—get them checked and cleaned.
Some homes generate more dust and foreign particles than others. Those with pets should clean the ducts more often (once per year) as they generate dust, pollutants and dander.
Young children are generally more sensitive to poor air quality and so it is especially important to conduct regular cleaning of your entire furnace system if babies or toddlers are breathing in the air. Also, consider a duct clean if you notice any of the following:
- Dust emanating from an air vent when you turn on your home’s HVAC system
- Dust or pet hair trapped in a vent
- Dust coating the grill on return air registers
- Family members coughing or experiencing irritation for no apparent reason
- Anyone in the home experiencing regular breathing difficulties or allergies in the off-season
We do not provided furnace duct cleaning but can help provide a recommendation.
Furnace Service Frequently Asked Questions
The furnace might just be the most important piece of equipment in your Calgary home. And like any valued member of the family, it needs a little TLC now and again.
Furnace maintenance should appear regularly at the top of your to-do list so that you’re not left paying excessive bills or shivering at the time when you need your heating most.
What's included in a furnace service?
Regular tune-up services are necessary to keep your furnace working in prime condition throughout the year.
For homeowners, this should mean nothing more than remembering to call your HVAC professionals. You don’t need to get your hands dirty—it’s best to leave it to the professionals.
Regular maintenance includes systematically inspecting, cleaning, testing, adjusting, and/or lubricating all of the essential components of your furnace:
- Inspecting the heat exchanger for corrosion or other signs of damage
- Removal of any blockages in the vent system and air grilles
- Removing debris from the blower Testing the blower motor and its amp draw
- Tightening electrical connections and/or replacing damaged wiring if needed
- Checking the burner and flame sensor
- Inspecting belts for cracks or other damage
- Calibrating the thermostat, if required
- Lubricating all the moving parts in the heating system
- Cleaning the air filter or replacing it if required
- Testing safety controls and the startup cycle
- Examining fuel lines for leaks (oil and gas furnaces)
- Testing gas pressure, burner, and pilot (oil and gas furnaces)
- Inspecting the thermocouple (oil and gas furnaces)
In Alberta, how often should we tune up a furnace?
At the very minimum with our Alberta climate, a professional should tune up your furnace once a year. This should be a thorough maintenance check to keep it working efficiently throughout the year.
If there are people in the household who are sensitive to air quality or have respiratory issues, it’s wise to increase this to several checks per year for extra peace of mind.
Because you will be using the system every day in our severe winters here in Calgary, we recommend at least a check in the fall before the colder winter months kick in.
Why perform annual furnace maintenance?
Performing annual furnace maintenance has some obvious benefits—but also some others that you may not have considered.
Of course, the main benefit is that you’re not left without heating in the depths of winter when you need it most.
By having a professional check your furnace and address all of the most common issues, you reduce the risk of an unexpected breakdown. We know the warning signs and can prevent minor issues from turning into major ones requiring expensive repairs.
Other benefits of annual furnace maintenance include:
- Potentially saving money: the efficiency of your furnace relates directly to your energy bills. If you regularly maintain your furnace, it will raise efficiency and minimize monthly bills—a great way to cover the costs of the maintenance.
- Maintaining the warranty: failure to maintain your furnace can invalidate the warranty. By arranging at least annual maintenance, you ensure that your warranty remains good if something serious goes wrong.
- Maximizing the life of the furnace: a furnace is a major investment that should last well over a decade. By maintaining it well, you extend its life.
Should a gas furnace be serviced once a year?
Gas furnaces can be prone to problems so if yours has not been maintained in a while, you are asking for problems.
It’s best to schedule a service for your furnace at least in the fall to check that it is running safely, efficiently, and without any major issues as the long winter months approach. It should be checked, tested, thoroughly cleaned, and all steps described above performed.
If you want to be sure to optimize performance all year round, schedule another service call in the spring.
What happens when a gas furnace isn't serviced often enough?
It is estimated by some HVAC professionals that three-quarters of “no-heat” callouts can be prevented with regular maintenance. We can verify that estimate.
A variety of preventable problems can start to appear if your gas furnace is not serviced at least once a year. Most typically, these include:
- An overworked furnace—this can be caused by dusty, clogged up filters that would be replaced with any standard service. An overworked furnace can lead to inefficiency and breakdowns.
- A faulty pilot light—this can be prevented by regular cleaning (the pilot opening can get clogged). Other pilot light problems occur when the pilot light button isn’t fully pressed or the gas valve isn’t all the way open—which can both be avoided by a gas furnace service.
- A leaking furnace—this is a dangerous problem that needs immediate attention and is often due to a cracked heat exchanger or a dirty, clogged filter. If your furnace is leaking dangerous toxins like carbon monoxide or nitrogen oxide into your home, this will be picked up by routine maintenance so that a larger problem can be averted.
Tips for Maintaining Your Furnace
In between service calls, there are a few regular checks and maintenance steps you can take to ensure that your furnace runs as efficiently as possible and avoids downtime.
- Clean filters—or replace them
Filters can get clogged with many different types of household particles, such as dust, dust mites, pollen, pet dander, spores, etc. Regular cleaning or replacing ensures adequate and safe airflow in the home.
- Check the blower motor
Furnace blowers provide air for the furnace and often for the air conditioning system too. The blower motor drives the fan and has many moving parts. Check that it’s working efficiently without too much noise and, if not, call us for a service.
- Check household vents
For your furnace to work efficiently, the air in your home must be able to circulate freely. Check that vents are open, clear of blockages and allow air to flow unimpeded.
- Check the exhaust flue (gas furnaces)
Toxic gases like carbon monoxide, nitrogen dioxide, and sulphur dioxide need to be allowed to escape freely from a gas furnace or your family could be breathing them in. Make sure the exhaust flue is not blocked—if it is, call one of our furnace professionals.
- Improve insulation in your home
You can ease the load on your furnace and potentially extend its life by improving insulation in your home. We can make recommendations after surveying your existing setup, often including weather stripping windows and doors, insulating your attic, or sealing and insulating ductwork.
Think of maintaining your furnace as a small price to pay for keeping you warm all year. It’s best to do regular checks of the furnace yourself throughout the year and book a maintenance call out at least once a year—preferably twice.
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