Picture this, it’s December 24, nine o’clock at night and you’re laying the kids down before getting some rest for the next days’ festivities. You head to bed with your spouse and take your turn at some sleep. The next day, Christmas, you wake up inside of your very own snow globe. Overnight, your furnace failed and the temperature inside of your home is at a steadily-dropping 35 degrees. Not only are you without heat but you can’t get a technician to come to your home because of the holiday. Sounds like a nightmare, right? Routinely having your furnace checked can protect you from catastrophes like this.
First, let’s talk about what you can do
2. Clean inside the furnace door
Keeping the inside of your furnace clean can help prevent failures. Dust can build up inside the doors that can be sucked through your system. To fix this, use a vacuum hose to clean up the dust inside the furnace and around the blower motor.
Next, wipe down the blower motor blades with a damp rag being careful not to cut yourself. Also be careful not to disconnect any wires behind the furnace door.
3. Make sure your furnace works
Turn your thermostat a few degrees higher than what you would normally set it to. If your furnace turns on for a few seconds and shuts off, or doesn’t turn on at all:
Check furnace switch
Check your circuit breaker
Check the blower door, if it’s not secured, your furnace will not turn on
Replace thermostat batteries
4. Check the burners
The burners should be producing a steady blue flame, if they’re producing a weak yellow flame or the flame isn’t steady, call a professional.
5. Check the combustion air duct
Make sure this isn’t blocked off or obstructed. The combustion air is needed to provide fresh air to the furnace.
6. Check your carbon monoxide detectors
Replace any batteries necessary in your carbon monoxide detectors. It is highly recommended that you have one of these in your furnace room and somewhere in your house.
Carbon monoxide is exhausted through your chimney but issues with your furnace can cause CO to leak inside your home.
If you notice any signals on your detectors indicating CO leakage, contact a professional immediately.
what a professional check up looks like
Sometimes you need a professional to come out. You need certain equipment and a lot of expertise to correctly perform a furnace check-up. It’s a good idea to have check-ups done once every one to two years to guarantee your equipment is running smoothly.
Here’s what you can look forward to in a routine check-up:
The tech will inspect your thermostat to see if it is communicating correctly with your furnace. If it isn’t the tech will check the wiring and batteries to determine the issue.
Inspect heat exchanger
After a while, the heat exchanger can start to crack. This can lead to carbon monoxide leaks which can be deadly. The tech will inspect the heat exchanger to be sure it is in good shape.
Check blower motor amps
The tech will check the amps to make sure the motor is running at 100% FLA (full load amps) or full capacity.
Check & clean pilot light/burners
Soot and other grime can build up on the pilot light and thermocouple in your furnace over time. Without a proper cleaning, this can lead to many issues with your furnace. The tech will use a wire brush, towels and a metal file to clean it. If you have a newer electronic burner in your furnace, the tech will inspect and clean as necessary.
Check safety controls
Your furnace has many safety features to protect you from catastrophe. The tech will check the limit switch, check and clean the flame sensor, and check the air pressure switch. It is very important to make sure these features are always working correctly.
Check & adjust heat rise
In short, the heat rise is the difference in temperature from the air being supplied to a room and the air being pulled out of the room by return vents. The tech will adjust accordingly to fit the parameters for your furnace model.
Test for carbon monoxide
As said before, carbon monoxide (CO) can be deadly. It is a scentless gas that can seriously harm you or your family. The tech will check all parts of the furnace that are known to have CO leaks.
Check humidifier damper
Your humidifier needs to be set correctly for the time of year. The tech will adjust the damper to your humidifier to the correct setting for winter.
Inspect chimney/venting system
It’s very important for your chimney/venting system to be inspected because that is where CO and other fumes are exhausted from your furnace. If there are leaks in the liner or chimney, it can leak into your home.
Over time, the blower to your furnace can be caked up with dust which will decrease it’s efficiency. This can lead to the furnace overheating or malfunctioning early in it’s life. The tech will wipe and vacuum the blower and blower compartment if needed.
Inspect gas piping
After a while, gas lines can be damaged or the connections can become corroded or weakened, which may lead to a gas leak. The tech will inspect all joints and connections on your gas line with a gas sniffer to ensure there are no leaks.
Check & clean condensate pump/lines
The condensate pump is an essential component to your air conditioning system. The tech will disconnect and clean the condensate pump, lines and reservoir to make sure it’s working correctly. Without it, still water can build up in your AC system.
Check & adjust gas pressure
The tech will check & adjust the gas pressure of the furnace so it’s not under-firing or over-firing. This can lead to low efficiency in your home or your furnace not running full cycles.
Inspect & adjust electrical connections
Inside the front door of your furnace lies a lot of electrical connections. These can easily become disconnected or broken due to many reasons. The tech will inspect the connections and fix them as necessary.
Identify system switch & breaker
It is important to know which breaker switch is connected to the furnace and which switch in your furnace room is connected to your furnace in case of emergencies. The tech will identify and explain these to you.
As you can see, a lot goes into correctly performing a furnace check-up. If you’ve done the steps that you’re comfortable doing and would like a professional to come take care of the rest for you, we’d love to help! We would hate for our home furnaces to fail on Christmas so we don’t want that for you either.