Hugh Cairns: Furnace service
Sep 30, 2013 / 5:00 am
Welcome to heating season! That means it’s time to make sure your equipment is working to its maximum potential. For the most part, natural gas fuel furnaces are a reliable heat source. Regular maintenance of a gas fuel furnace is a function of efficiency no matter what its age. A properly tuned furnace is good for the environment and will save you money on your heating bill. In some cases all that is required for optimum efficiency is a simple adjustment of the fuel mixture to make all of the difference.
Natural gas furnaces are usually easily maintained and trouble free. There are some simple aspects of furnace upkeep that you can do yourself but my advice is best to leave the servicing of your furnace to the professionals. Spending a few dollars on a technician can save you money on your heating costs and can help avoid expensive repairs in the future.
Unfortunately when I’m in the field, I have found that many people do not service their furnaces regularly. In some cases I wonder if the furnace has ever been serviced. Resist the temptation to service yourself. Unless you are a heating technician, you will not likely detect problems in your system with great accuracy.
Service your furnace for health and safety
Your gas fuelled furnace produces carbon monoxide. Normally gas furnaces are vented outside and exhaust properly, but if there is a leak because of poor installation or maintenance, tragedy is looming. Maintaining, inspecting and repairing your appliances are a must-do priority. Between servicing, your only source of protection is a CSA approved carbon monoxide detector.
Keep in mind that your priority should be to maintain your fossil burning appliances in top condition first, and then use CO detectors as a back-up device. If you don’t have a CO detector then you are not protected. Simple as that.
Furnace service and heat exchangers
The number one reason for furnace failure is age. A furnace will cycle on and off thousands of times over its service life. That means that the interior parts will go from being cold to very hot. The temperature changes in furnaces are rapid and cause the metals to expand and contract. This expansion and contraction wears the heat exchanger out making it brittle and eventually the metal of the heat exchanger cracks. The crack cannot be welded or repaired.
The constant supplies of acidic gases from the furnace along with a continuous supply of moisture eat away at the metals inside of your furnace. They can cause rusted through sections that can allow the products of combustion into the air that you and your family breathe.
What is included in a furnace service?
A professional furnace tune-up should include checking and cleaning all the major parts of the furnace, adjusting the pilot and burner if needed, inspecting and replacing filters if needed; lubricating all motors (although newer models may be self-lubricating) and performing a combustion efficiency test.
In my books dirt and dust is the biggest enemy of your furnace. Dirt affects all components in the furnace so you can expect that a professional cleaning is one of the most important parts of a furnace service. Accumulations of dust can waste fuel, lower efficiency and in some cases cause overheating. The cheapest way to protect your furnace from dust and dirt accumulations is to change the filter frequently.
For more information on furnace servicing, costs and service plans click here.
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