Any homeowner who has had their furnace breakdown on a chilly Sunday evening blizzard will tell you that an ounce of prevention is indeed worth a pound of cure. Proper furnace maintenance will prolong the life of your existing unit. It will also prevent expensive, unwanted and ill-timed repairs and service calls, and help your furnace run as efficiently as possible. Even a thorough cleaning and complete inspection will cost a homeowner less than your average furnace service call. The reasonable cost of regular furnace maintenance will save you valuable time and money in the long run.
A competent DIYer can do some regular furnace maintenance on their own. For example, changing air filters; however, most items require a trained heating contractor. So how often and when do you need to have your furnace checked? For your gas furnace, maintenance should be performed once a year and ideally, before the heating season has begun. You may not get the appointment you want if you are calling in the middle of that blizzard.
A trained heating contractor will generally spend 30-60 minutes performing a detailed cleaning and a professional tune-up. While there are some differences in furnace design and operation, the following items are those which your furnace maintenance professional should include in any tune-up:
•Test air flow duct system for carbon monoxide– this is the most important!
•Inspect and calibrate thermostat
•Inspect for combustible material around furnace
•Clean exterior of furnace
•Clean air filter
•Test ignition system for safe and proper operation
•Check exhaust system for proper venting
•Measure supply and return temperature differential
•Inspect fan belt and adjust tension
•Test all safety controls
•Lubricate and clean blower motor air vents
•Lubricate all bearings as needed
•Clean and inspect furnace burner and pilot
•Clean and inspect heat exchangers for cracks and wear
•Measure amperage and voltage on blower motor for proper operation
•Inspect wiring for any damage and tighten any electrical connections
•Inspect flue and draft diverter
•Check and calibrate fan control
Finally, your heating contractor should give you any necessary recommendations of repairs or replacements that may need to be fix in the near future. A professional furnace inspection, cleaning and tune-up generally costs around $125 -$225 but it could even be higher during peak season due to demand.