Having a well-maintained, fully operational furnace is an important part of staying safe, healthy, and comfortable during the cold winter months. Ensuring that your furnace is always operating at peak capacity is a matter of keeping up to date with regular maintenance. Gas furnace maintenance should be performed by a certified technician who is licensed to work with some of the more hazardous elements, such as natural gas lines and electrical wiring. This maintenance should be performed at least once a year or so, and ideally, it should be done in the off-season. Trying to get maintenance done during the wintertime, when technicians are at their busiest performing repairs, can be a dicey prospect.
When you pay for gas furnace maintenance by a technician, what can you expect? What is included? How long will the whole process take? Will it really prevent your furnace from having future mechanical problems? Read on to find out.
Parts of Your Gas Furnace
Your gas furnace begins to do its job when you set the thermostat. This is the temperature control system. You set it to a temperature that is comfortable for you, and it will cycle the system on and off as necessary until that temperature is achieved. If the temperature begins to dip below the thermostat setting, the furnace will activate, cycling heated air until the building warms to your desired temperature. Natural gas burns very hot, making it an efficient fuel source for home heating.
When the thermostat gives the signal for the furnace to activate, the pilot light will ignite the natural gas that is pumped into your home through the gas main. This will generate a flame, and the flame will generate toxic waste products, like carbon monoxide. For safety reasons, it’s crucial that these toxic byproducts are vented away from your home safely, and this is done by the heat exchanger, as well as a dedicated ventilation system. The responsibility of the heat exchanger is to transfer the heat energy into the air while safely removing dangerous pollutants from your home.
Once the heat exchanger has done the job of heating up the air that’s in the system, the blower motor activates and begins the job of circulating the heated air through the ducts in your home. Each of these ducts leads to a vent; the heated air enters the home through the vents and warms up each individual room of the house.
While these are the main parts of your gas furnace and the surrounding system, there are other, smaller, but equally critical elements as well. These include the limit switch, which prevents the furnace from becoming too hot, and the gas valve, which controls the flow of gas into your furnace.
The Importance of Regular Maintenance
Part of the reason your gas furnace needs regular maintenance is the fact that it’s a complex system, made up of a large number of different components that work in unison to heat your home. If any of these components begin to wear out, the furnace will struggle to operate at its peak capacity. At a minimum, this will drive up your energy bill due to a loss of efficiency in the system. The problems that can occur from an improperly maintained furnace can be far worse than a heightened energy bill, however. It may cause the furnace to fail at an inopportune time, such as in the middle of a snowstorm. It may also lead to safety hazards such as an increased risk of fire or carbon monoxide poisoning due to the improper ventilation of gasses.
Note that a furnace failing during the dead of winter, or even in the middle of the night during a snowstorm, does not necessarily mean you will have to endure freezing temperatures for the rest of the season. You will, however, need to pay a premium for a technician to perform emergency repairs. While it’s good to know that this type of service is available, it’s far better to avoid the need for it through regular tune-ups and maintenance.
What Your Technician Will Do During a Maintenance Check
When you contact a technician to perform gas furnace maintenance, they will work their way down a checklist, inspecting each of the component parts of your furnace to ensure it is operating at peak capacity.
One of the most common problems with gas furnaces is inefficiency due to a faulty thermostat. If your thermostat fails to do its job correctly, it may cycle the system on when it’s not necessary, burning excess fuel and driving up your energy bill. Or it may not cycle the system on at all, causing your home to remain cold during the winter months. Your technician will inspect all the electrical elements of your furnace and repair them if necessary.
The ductwork in your home is another important part of an efficiently operating furnace. Because air is constantly circulating through it, the ductwork will, over time, build up dirt, dust, and grime that will interfere with proper airflow. This will force the system to work harder than it should, once again leading to an increased energy bill for you.
By spreading dust and mold spores, it may also become a health hazard, exacerbating allergies and other respiratory conditions. For these reasons, gas furnace maintenance should include a thorough cleaning of the ducts in your home.
For safety reasons, it’s also crucial your gas furnace technician checks the ventilation systems of your furnace. They will inspect the heat exchanger and other related components to ensure toxic gases are being safely vented away. These gasses are invisible and have no smell, so the only way to detect their presence is through the use of functional carbon monoxide detectors. Your technician may inspect these carbon monoxide alarms as well.
Your technician will also perform other basic maintenance that is included in a tune-up, such as cleaning and oiling the motors, changing any filters that have become clogged, and checking the gas pipes themselves to ensure the natural gas is flowing safely and efficiently.
Gas furnace maintenance should be performed by an HVAC professional, such as the technicians at Entek HVAC. Trained experts will make sure the job is done properly so that your gas furnace will be there to keep your home comfortable for years to come.