Routine maintenance reduces the chance of a breakdown. It ensures your furnace will perform efficiently, to keep you cozy without wasting energy. And here’s something you may have overlooked in the fine print: failure to maintain your furnace can void your warranty. Warranties cover defects in materials and original workmanship, not problems caused by owner misuse or lack of care.
Routine maintenance prevents problems
Happily, preventive furnace maintenance is easy, and it doesn’t take much time. So, no excuses. Your owner’s manual spells out periodic maintenance steps for your particular furnace. Read it carefully, because some manufacturer’s (Carrier, for example), require that you call in a trained professional to perform certain types of service. They want to be sure the work is done correctly, but it is also easier for us to detect minor issues that could turn into costly problems if not addressed.
With that in mind, here is what needs to be done to keep your furnace functioning smoothly:
- Regularly replace air filters. Every furnace needs to breathe freely in order to move air efficiently. When clogged filters and built-up dirt impede air flow, your system has to work harder, which wears out parts faster, too. Check your filter(s) monthly.
- Keep your outdoor unit clean, for the same reasons.
- Clean the interior. Before each heating and cooling season, check to be sure the burner and blower wheel (or fan motor and blade) are clean. Look for signs of rust or corrosion. Check the electrical connections to be sure they are tight. And check the controls to be sure they are working properly. (Work like this that involves removing the panel and working inside the furnace is the kind of service that calls for a pro.)
- Inspect the venting system (pipe and vents) to make sure everything is secure and in good repair, and there are no signs of water leakage. Do this before every heating season.
- Inspect accessory units -- humidifiers, electronic air cleaners, etc. -- according to the manufacturer’s instructions.
Winter is on the way
Taking a few minutes each month or seasonally to perform preventive maintenance and inspections won’t take a bite out of your weekend schedule. Furnace filters are inexpensive by any measure, and they are certainly far less costly than wasted energy and repairs that could have been avoided.
Most important of all, ensuring your furnace is in tip-top condition now assures that your family will remain safely comfortable indoors this winter, no matter how deep the snow or how low the temperatures.