The weather is starting to cool down, making this the perfect time to make sure your furnace is in good working order. Heating systems are relatively trouble-free and easy to maintain. Efficient operation is a function of good regular maintenance. No matter what type of furnace you have, there are several things you can do to keep your heating system in top condition.
At Aire-Tech, trust and expertise are the cornerstones of our reputation. With years of experience in heating systems, our customers have come to depend on our in-depth knowledge, transparent communication, and unwavering commitment to their satisfaction. In this comprehensive DIY guide to furnace maintenance, we share some of the industry secrets that have made us a go-to resource for heating solutions.
What Is a Furnace?
The most common type of furnace is a gas-powered central air system, which heats air in one area and then distributes it throughout the home via ductwork and vents. This system is also known as a ducted warm-air or forced warm-air distribution system.
The main components of a furnace include:
- Thermostat: This is the device that controls the temperature in your home. When the temperature drops below the set point, the thermostat signals the furnace to turn on.
- Burner: This is where the fuel is burned to create heat.
- Heat exchanger: This component transfers heat from the burner to the air that will be circulated through your home.
- Blower: This is the fan that circulates the warm air through your ducts and into your home.
- Flue: This is the pipe that vents the exhaust gases from the burner to the outside of your home.
How Does a Furnace Work?
A furnace consists of six main components— a thermostat, gas valve, burners, heat exchanger, blower, and air ducts.
A thermostat activates a furnace when the temperature settings drop below the set level on the controller. The process starts at the burner that drives gas to the heat exchanger when a gas valve is turned on. The process involves air combustion where the air is ignited by the gas fuel supplied through the valve to create heat. While older furnaces used a pilot light, newer systems consist of an ignition switch to ignite the gas.
The heat exchanger turns the intake air from ducts and gas fuel into heat which is distributed through the air ducts in your home.
A separate vent pushes the colder air from the homes into this system which is then warmed to the desired temperature by mixing with heated air from the exchanger.
The desired heat is passed through a filter, to remove dust and debris, to the furnace plenum. A plenum is a box that acts as a junction to connect the furnace system to the ductwork. From here a blower distributes the heated clean air in the home through the air vents/ducts.
The flue and vent pipes in the system exhaust any harmful by-products of the combustion process in the exchanger to the outside environment. The process repeats itself by drawing colder air to the exchanger through return ducts until the desired temperature as set on the thermostat is achieved. The gas valve shuts off and activates again when the temperature drops or when thermostat settings are changed.
Furnaces are generally paired with a central air conditioner and in some cases, combined with a heating pump system to keep the temperature comfortable for your homes around the year.
When and How Often Should I Maintain My Furnace?
To keep your furnace running efficiently, it is important to perform regular maintenance. This includes changing the air filter, cleaning the blower and burner, and checking the thermostat and other components for proper operation. Regular maintenance not only helps keep your furnace running smoothly, but it can also help prevent breakdowns and extend the life of your furnace.
Unusually high heating bills, excessive furnace noise and the need for frequent repairs can all be signs that maintenance is overdue. To avoid these issues, it is best to get in the habit of doing furnace maintenance at least once a year — even more frequently if anyone in your home has respiratory issues.
So, when is the best time to take care of your annual furnace maintenance? Our suggestion: shortly before you expect to need your furnace. The end of summer or early fall will usually give you enough time to make sure everything is working as it should and to fix anything that needs fixing so your furnace is ready when the winter chill kicks in.
Why Is Furnace Maintenance Important?
Your furnace system controls the temperature and moves air throughout your home to keep it comfortable while also filtering out dust and allergens. A yearly preventative maintenance inspection by a qualified service technician can keep your HVAC functioning at peak efficiency by identifying problems from thermal stress, movement, or dust.
Common problems can be:
- Duct work loosened due to normal thermal expansion and contraction
- Blower motor bearings in need of lubrication
- Replacing of air filter and cleaning of dust from blower fan blades and AC condensing coil
An inspection can also find and repair less than obvious problems like:
- Loose blower belt
- Improperly firing burners
- Blocked condensate drain
- Loose wiring harnesses
- Slowly leaking coolant from the AC system
The best way to keep your furnace efficient and reliable is to have it inspected before you really need it. Before cold weather strikes, set up an appointment to have your heating system inspected by an expert. Yearly fall maintenance can save you time, frustration, and money when it is done right. Licensed Aire-Tech technicians can perform a comprehensive diagnostic check to ensure that your furnace is operating safely, efficiently and to manufacturer’s specifications.
Pre-Winter Furnace Inspection
Before the cold weather hits, it’s important to perform a thorough inspection of your furnace to ensure it’s running efficiently and safely.
Here are some key areas we will check during your pre-winter furnace inspection:
- Lubricate Motors
- Adjust controls if needed
- Adjust combustion air to burners
- Check fan belts
- Change filters, standard pleated filters included.
- Check air temperature rise
- Check wiring & connections
- Clean burners
- Check for gas leaks in furnace
- Check heat exchanger for cracks
- Check performance of system
- Check heat strips
- Check heat pump in heating mode
- Check heat pump in defrost
- Clean heat exchanger
DIY Furnace Maintenance Tips
Maintaining your furnace is essential to ensure that it functions properly and efficiently. By performing regular maintenance, you can prevent costly repairs and ensure that your furnace lasts longer. Here are some DIY furnace maintenance tips to help keep your furnace in optimal condition.
- Change the Filter
- Clean the Blower
- Check the Belt Tension
- Lubricate the Motor
When to Call a Professional
Regular furnace maintenance is essential to ensure your heating system runs smoothly throughout the winter. However, there are times when calling a professional is necessary. Here are some signs that indicate you should contact an HVAC technician:
- Unusual Noises
- Inconsistent Heating
- Frequent Cycling
- Rising Energy Bills
As cold weather approaches, it is important to take a few preventative measures to protect your home through the chilly months. Whether your pilot light will not stay lit or you think your furnace may not be running optimally, you can always count on the Aire-Tech to keep your home warm. Perhaps you need repairs, new furnace installation, or preventative maintenance—whatever the HVAC issue is, Aire-Tech is ready to help.
If your system needs repair or inspection before winter, call us on 951-926-1002. You can also visit our Contact page and complete the contact form.