As we move into the warm summery months, gas furnace maintenance might be the furthest thing from your mind. Heating your house isn’t much of a concern right now, after all—you’re probably more worried about cooling it.
This, however, is a mistake. The best time of year to make sure your home’s heating is in tip-top shape is spring to fall. After all, not only has it just spent the wintry months in use, but gas furnace maintenance often involves taking your furnace temporarily offline—you don’t want that to happen when you need it to heat your home. Replacement parts tend to be cheaper at this time of year too, so it really is a no-brainer to do your electric or gas furnace maintenance before the weather starts turning cooler.
Here are some Entek tips for easy gas furnace maintenance.
#1: Run a Complete Furnace Cycle to Identify Problems
You can’t start a proper gas furnace maintenance cycle without identifying any potential issues. One good way to do that is to put your furnace through its customary paces. Set the thermostat, turn the furnace on, and observe what happens.
- Does the furnace properly power up?
- Do you hear any strange noises as it heats up?
- Does the furnace get the room(s) to the proper temperature, as set on your thermostat?
- Does the furnace properly shut down afterward?
- Does the furnace properly shut down afterward?
- Does the furnace power down once everything is finished?
Depending on where you encounter errors, you might have different problems that require addressing. Even if nothing goes obviously wrong, however, you should still check to make sure everything with your gas furnace is in shape.
#2: Ensure Proper Air Flow and Ventilation
One of the most common issues with poor gas furnace output is diminished air flow. Cleaning your furnace’s air filter is very simple and should be done regularly—especially after a long season of furnace usage.
Check the grates that supply heated air to various rooms in your home and the return grate that exchanges air to the furnace, and make sure that they are free of dust and clear of any obstacles that might inhibit full air flow. Similarly, check your furnace’s chimney and exhaust pipe connections for any gaps or rusting, which could lead to small, barely perceptible holes in the metal.
This is one of the easiest, but potentially most effective, ways to maximize the efficiency of your heating system. While filters are very effective at catching the dirt and dust that is naturally in the air in your home, they’re never 100 percent effective. Some amount of particulate matter will always get through, and you may find yourself wondering why your furnace is less efficient, even with a perfectly clean filter.
When cleaning or replacing your filter, you should make sure to unscrew the protective housing that covers the blower assembly and various belts and clean those as well. A damp cloth works best to remove dust and dirt, though you can also use a can of compressed air (like you might use to clean dust from a PC). Here’s a great guide on how to clean your blower assembly.
#3: Check Your Thermostat
It’s not uncommon for heating problems to not actually indicate something wrong with your furnace, gas or otherwise.
Sometimes, the problem exists at a different source—the thermostat. Make sure your thermostat is properly powered and that it’s properly sending information to your HVAC system. You can save yourself lots of money on costly repairs by checking your thermostat too.
#4: Prioritize Safety Above Everything
Modern gas furnaces have been designed to be as safe as they can possibly get.
The risk of injury or harm to your home is incredibly minimal. But “minimal” does not mean “zero,” and when dealing with flammable gas, there is always some amount of risk. As a result, when you’re engaging in gas furnace maintenance, you should always be sure to prioritize safety.
- Make sure all power to the system is turned off. The easiest way to ensure that the electricity isn’t flowing is to trip the relevant circuit breaker. Some furnaces have dedicated fuses and circuit breakers, so be certain that you’ve cut the power before you do anything else.
- If you smell gas, stop and leave. The smell of gas can indicate that something may be seriously wrong. Don’t try to shut off the gas supply, as that can exacerbate the problem if there is a leak. If you smell gas, the safest thing to do is to immediately leave your home, leaving doors and windows open, and contact the fire department or your gas company. Until they have come to identify and solve the problem, do not go back into your home.
- Don’t try to fix electrical issues. If, when testing your furnace (in tip #1), you regularly encounter electrical problems—the breaker continually tripping or a blown fuse—the problem is not in the furnace but in the electrical supply. This is dangerous to try to fix yourself. Call an experienced electrician instead.
#5: When in Doubt, Call the Pros
Simple gas furnace maintenance can be done by you with relative ease. But if you’re not sure about how to do something—or how to do something safely—then, as with gas furnace installation, it’s best to call a professional HVAC company.
HVAC experts know what to look for in an inspection of all parts of the furnace system, from filter to blower to ventilation. They have the tools to inspect and clean places like deep within your ventilation ducts that might be too difficult for you to get to on your own.
Best of all, having your gas furnace maintenance and inspection done by trained professionals means that you can rest assured that it will be comprehensive, finding and resolving all potential issues, as well as safe. Next time winter rolls around, you’ll be able to turn up the thermostat without worry, knowing that your gas furnace maintenance was taken care of months ago.