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 is 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.