Gas furnaces are one of the most efficient and cost-effective heating options. However, like any other piece of equipment, they can also experience issues that can affect how well they work or cause them to stop functioning altogether. Some of these issues can also create the potential for dangerous gas or carbon monoxide leaks. The easiest way to avoid all these problems and ensure that your heating works properly is to have your furnace, and your entire heating system professionally maintained every year.
Benefits of Annual Furnace Maintenance
Professional maintenance of your furnace and heating system yearly provides several significant benefits that outweigh the cost. For starters, it dramatically reduces the chances that your furnace may suddenly stop working in the middle of winter when you need it most. In addition, if the technician does identify any potential issues, they can immediately repair any problems before they become more serious.
Annual furnace maintenance will also improve your heating system’s energy efficiency and overall effectiveness. Increased effectiveness can help to reduce energy waste, lower your heating costs and boost your home comfort. It can also help extend your furnace’s lifespan by ensuring that it is working efficiently and not having to run for longer or more often than it should.
The other significant benefit of furnace maintenance is safety. By having your furnace inspected and maintained every year, you should hopefully ensure that it operates safely and avoid any potential issues with gas leaks or carbon monoxide poisoning. Now that you know why it is so important, let’s take a closer look at what is involved with furnace and heating maintenance.
Inspecting the Furnace and Exhaust Flue
A technician will thoroughly inspect the entire unit when servicing a gas furnace. Inspections include ensuring that all wires and connections are tight and the furnace isn’t damaged. Most importantly, the technician will check that the heat exchanger isn’t cracked or warped. Identifying damage is essential, as a damaged heat exchanger can allow carbon monoxide to leak out of the combustion chamber into your ductwork.
The technician will also inspect the exhaust flue to ensure it isn’t damaged or clogged and is working correctly. The flue serves two essential purposes: venting combustion fumes outside the house and drawing oxygen into the combustion chamber. If the flue is damaged or blocked, it can prevent carbon monoxide and other combustion fumes from being vented out of the house as they should. A blocked flue will also prevent enough air from getting inside the combustion chamber, leading to incomplete combustion and reduced heat generation.
Cleaning the Furnace Burners and Flame Sensor
Cleaning the furnace’s components, specifically the burners and flame sensor, is also essential. The burners can eventually become dirty or clogged with soot and grime as the furnace runs. When this happens, it can prevent the burners from being able to combust the gas entirely. As a result, the unit produces less heat and will need to run much more frequently.
Dirty furnace burners can also cause a slight delay in combustion. Delays can allow gas to fill the combustion chamber and lead to a miniature explosion once it ignites, which has the potential to damage the unit or crack the heat exchanger.
To clean the burners, the technician will remove them from the unit and scrub away any grime or debris. The technician will also clean the flame sensor after cleaning the burners. The flame sensor is vital; if it is dirty, it can cause the unit to shut down automatically after a few seconds.
The flame sensor controls the gas flow to the unit, and it does this by using a metal probe that detects when the burners are in use. Whenever the furnace needs to run, the flame sensor will open a valve and allow gas to flow. The pilot light or igniter will then light the gas on fire. If the gas doesn’t ignite within seconds, the flame sensor will automatically close the gas valve and shut the furnace down. The same will happen if the sensor is dirty and can’t detect the lit burners.
If your furnace uses a standing pilot light, the technician will also need to inspect the pilot and potentially clean the thermocouple if it is dirty. The pilot light works precisely like the furnace flame sensor to detect whether the pilot light has a flame. If the thermocouple is too cloudy to see the flame, the gas flow will shut off, and the pilot will instantly go out.
Cleaning and Inspecting the HVAC Blower
Heating maintenance doesn’t just involve your furnace but also the other HVAC components. Other components include the blower fan, which draws cold air into the furnace and circulates heated air throughout your ductwork.
As with your furnace, the technician will thoroughly inspect the blower to ensure it is in good shape and working correctly. They will also clean out the blower, which helps improve your heating system’s efficiency and prevent damage to the blower.
Replacing the Furnace Filter
Another part of annual furnace maintenance is replacing the HVAC air filter. That said, this is something you will also need to do on your own regularly since the filter should be replaced at least once every three months and potentially more often. While it may seem small, replacing your air filter is one of the most important parts of HVAC maintenance and will ensure that your heating and air conditioning systems continue to work correctly.
Whenever your HVAC system runs, the filter is constantly trapping dust and debris to prevent it from getting inside and damaging the blower fan and other components. However, if the filter doesn’t get cleaned or replaced regularly, it will quickly become clogged. A clogged filter makes it much harder for the blower to draw air through the filter leading to reduced airflow and decreasing the effectiveness of your HVAC system.
One of the most significant issues with clogged filters is that they allow hot air to build up inside the furnace. Hot air entrapment happens because the blower fan can’t draw enough cold air into the system. When this happens, all that hot air can cause the heat exchanger to warp or crack. Damage like this not only creates the potential for carbon monoxide issues, but it is also something that cannot be fixed and will require you to have your furnace replaced.
Cleaning the Condensate Drain Line
If you have a high-efficiency condensing furnace, it will also be necessary to clean the condensate drain line. If not, the drain system can become clogged and cause water to begin overflowing out of the furnace onto the floor. Furnace drain lines are prone to clogging as the combination of water and heat can allow algae, mold and slime to collect inside the pipes and eventually block them. Dirt and debris can sometimes get into the lines and worsen the problem.
Professional Furnace Maintenance and HVAC Services
If you need to maintain your gas furnace, you can count on the team at Bel-Aire Heating & Cooling to do the job right. We work on all brands and models of gas furnaces and are available 24/7 for emergencies. Our team also repairs, installs and maintains air conditioners, boilers, mini-splits and geothermal HVAC systems for residential and commercial customers in Grand Rapids, Portage, Three Rivers, and Western Michigan. For more information on the importance of furnace maintenance or to schedule a service appointment, give us a call today.