Standard Maintenance for Heaters or Furnaces
All home heating equipment requires ongoing maintenance and service to keep the equipment running efficiently.
Whether your home has an electric heater, a gas furnace or other heating equipment, standard maintenance should be performed every year to prevent breakdowns and improve the efficiency of the unit. While each furnace or heater may be slightly different, there are some basic maintenance tasks that are needed on almost all heating equipment.
In Arizona, we may have less need for heat than other parts of the country, but it still can get chilly during the winter months, especially at night. You want to make sure your heater or furnace is ready to handle your heating needs when the colder weather hits. Here are some maintenance tasks that can be performed on your heating equipment to make sure it is good to go when the temperatures drop in the months ahead.
Cleaning the Combustion Chamber
For gas and oil furnaces, the combustion chamber is where the fuel and air meet, creating the heat that is syphoned off to warm the home. This chamber can become lined with soot from the combustion, creating a corrosive environment. Cleaning the soot from the walls can help protect your furnace from corrosion and extend the life of your equipment.
Furnaces always have at least one filter that needs replacement. Air filters are on all kinds of furnaces and should be replaced as often as needed. The air filter not only protects the air quality in your home, but can impact the efficiency of your furnace. If it is dirty, it can require more energy to heat your home, costing you more in utilities. Check with the manufacturer’s recommendations for replacing the air filter on your heating equipment; most need to be changed every few months with regular use.
Some types of furnaces may have other filters that need be changed. For example, oil furnaces have an oil filter that must be regularly changed to keep it running efficiently.
Checking the Flue
While electric heaters and furnaces may not have a flue or chimney, gas and oil furnaces will have a flue to emit exhaust. These pipes let out toxic gases that can be harmful to your health, like carbon monoxide. It is important to check the pipes for any signs of damage; a tiny hole or loose pipe fitting can leak gases into your home that can be deadly. Any holes should be repaired, but corroded pipes should be replaced before you begin using your furnace this winter.
Some furnaces may use belts to drive the fans and motor. While belt replacement may need to be done by a professional, you can check the belt tension. A loose belt can cause problems and will eventually lead to a breakdown. Most furnaces belts should be tight enough that you can only depress the belt about one-half to three-quarters of an inch with your finger. If it is looser than this, it may need tightening, or replacement if it is stretched.
One of the most common components that can go out on a furnace or HVAC system is the thermostat. Symptoms of issues with the thermostat can include short-cycling. This happens when the heater turns on for a short period, cycles, and then turns back off again. These cycles may only last for three minutes or less, and happen frequently. This can be a sign your thermostat may need to be replaced. A poorly functioning thermostat can waste energy and rack up more in heating costs than is necessary. You may also have trouble keeping your home at the right temperature.
Cleaning the Air Vents
As part of your fall maintenance, you should clean your air vents on the ducts around your home. After a hot summer, those vents have been used constantly to deliver cool air; now they need to be ready to deliver warmer air on those cool nights. Dust and rinse off air vents to improve the air quality in your home and help with efficiency for your system.
When to Call a Professional
Some heater or furnace maintenance can be done on your own. Changing an air filter or cleaning the vents in your heating equipment is simple enough. However, troubleshooting a thermostat problem, changing a belt, or replacing a flue may require more expertise. Plus, if you notice any strange noises or other functional issues, you may have problems with your heater. It is better to get these issues repaired now before the cooler weather hits.
When you need annual maintenance or repairs for your furnace, heater or HVAC system, you can trust the experts at Mason Mechanical. We service and repair all types of furnaces and heaters, as well as air conditioning units.