Tips for Maintaining Your Furnace
The secret to a happy home is a healthy furnace. Your furnace is an integral part of your home, setting the ambiance and atmosphere for everyone who comes to visit. To keep your heating system running at its peak performance for as long as possible, it’s important to maintain it with regular TLC. Some heating repairs and maintenance can be done yourself at home, while others require a heating contractor to pay a visit. The following is a list of the most important maintenance procedures and at-home heating repairs to keep your unit in tip top shape.
- First and foremost: keep your furnace clean
Dirt is the kryptonite of your furnace. A dirty filter can lower efficiency and even cause overheating. To prevent dirt from overtaking your heating system, the filter system, blower, and motor all need to be regularly cleaned. According to EnergyStar.gov, your filter should be changed anywhere from monthly to once every three months, depending on your usage level. To inspect your filter for build-up, remove it from the unit and hold it up to the light. You’ll know it needs to be replaced if it appears clogged. In addition to being cleaned of dust and debris, your motor should be regularly lubricated to keep it running smooth.
- Check your pilot light for strength and height
Your pilot light flame should be full and steady. It shouldn’t have touches of yellow or flicker. If you need to adjust the height of the flame on your main burners, call a heating repairs professional. Your pilot light flame can be adjusted with the adjustment screw. The flame should be between 1.5 and 2 inches in height.
Your pilot light may be occasionally blown out by a draft. If your pilot light goes out, you can often relight it by hand. Take care to follow the relighting instructions provided by the manufacturer. You can usually find them on the access door. If you have any trouble relighting it, contact a heating service technician for assistance.
If you find your pilot light frequently going out, your thermocouple may be to blame. The thermocouple is a safety device located near the pilot light. It’s role is to shut off the gas if the igniter fails or the pilot goes out. You can start by trying to tighten the nut of the thermocouple with a wrench, but take care not too use too much pressure. After tightening, relight your pilot light. If the pilot still won’t stay lit, you likely need to replace the thermocouple.
- Consider an upgrade, particularly if you’re facing costly heating repairs
By law, gas furnaces are required to run at a minimum of 78% efficiency. However, furnaces with a 97% efficiency are available on the market. By upgrading your furnace from 56% to 90% efficiency, you could prevent 1.5 tons of carbon dioxide emissions from your gas furnace each year. If you use an oil furnace, those savings jump to 2.5 tons of carbon dioxide emissions. Not only does improved efficiency help the environment, but it will lower your monthly bill and keep more money in your pocket.
If your furnace is over 15 years old, chances are it’s time for a replacement. If you find yourself in need of heating repairs because a key part has failed, you’d be better off replacing the whole unit than spending money on additional heating repairs.
- Give your furnace bi-annual professional check-ups
Just like your teeth, your HVAC system needs bi-annual check-ups from a professional heating and cooling specialist. The best way to prevent key part failure is regular maintenance and inspections.
EnergyStar.gov recommends having your furnace inspected once before the cold months set in and your air conditioner inspected once before Summer. A professional can assess any heating repairs that may need to be done before the high usage months of Fall and Winter set in. There’s nothing worse than emergency heating repairs in the middle of a freeze. Discovering any necessary heating repairs before they become a major issue can also save you time and money down the line.
With regular maintenance, most furnaces will last from 15 to 18 years. By keeping your furnace clean, the pilot light healthy, and using the most efficient models, your furnace will have a long and healthy life.