The home furnace is a piece of equipment that provides families with warmth through high-temperature heating. Its name is derived from the Greek word Fornax, which means oven. It performs one of the most critical functions in a home.
The most common fuel sources today for modern furnaces in North America are natural gas furnaces. Other popular types of common fuel sources include oil, coal, wood and electricity. Modern furnaces can achieve a rating of being 98% efficient and operate without a chimney.
Today’s warm air furnaces typically use a fan system to circulate air to the rooms of a house while pulling cooler air back to the furnace for reheating through the ductwork system. Ducts are cylinder tubes that can be made of sheet metal or flex duct. They may be insulated or uninsulated. This method of heating is referred to as forced-air heat.
Heating systems are usually trouble-free and easy to maintain. Efficient operation is a function of proper regular maintenance. Regardless of what type of furnace or system you have in your home, performing routine furnace maintenance is essential for peak performance.
If your system is clogged with too much dirt, it wastes fuel, considerably lowers the efficiency of the furnace, results in higher utility costs and expensive repairs. By simply keeping your furnace clean, you eliminate the effect of dirt on all three basic components of the furnace; the filter, the blower and motor.
Ideally, you should have your furnace serviced at least once a year at the beginning of the heating season. Your filter should be replaced on a monthly basis during periods of continuous use. If you have a gas furnace, you should be serviced at least once a year, although preferably twice a year, in both the spring and fall.
Annual furnace maintenance, including a thorough examination and cleaning of the parts, like the air filter, the fan, the pilot light, and the heat exchanger, can usually prevent problems. By doing so, your home remains fresher and cleaner while it’s closed up during the winter months.
You can also improve the air quality in your home by having your furnace’s duct system cleaned on an annual basis to remove molds and allergens. Cleaning the ductwork will not only eliminate unnecessary dust in your home, but it provides better airflow, which in turn helps to reduce energy costs.
Furnace Inspection Procedure
Depending on the company you hire, the steps performed during a routine furnace inspection can vary, but as a general rule, you should expect that an experienced professional will include the following tasks:
- Checking the vent system for leaks or blockages.
- Examining the heat exchanger for signs of corrosion and cracks or separations. A damaged heat exchanger can allow deadly carbon monoxide to escape.
- Checking the blower and cleaning its components. This includes removing the blower wheel to ensure that it’s free of dirt and debris.
- Testing for a tight seal on the blower access door.
- Checking the air intake grills for blockages.
- Performing an amp-draw test on the blower motor and comparing the results to the unit’s listed specifications.
- Checking the burner for proper ignition and testing the flame sensor for accurate operation.
- Lubricating all the motor’s moving parts to reduce friction.
- Checking that all electrical connections are tight and examining the wiring for signs of rust and corrosion.
- Testing the thermostat calibration.
- Examining the flue for obstructions.
- Testing for the unit’s safety controls.
- Checking the belts for signs of wear or cracks.
- Testing that the system’s start-up cycle is functioning correctly.
- Checking the furnace’s air filter.
Stay Problem Free
Homeowners rely on their furnace to keep their homes warm and ventilated during the winter months. By performing regular furnace maintenance, you prevent potential problems and keep your home healthy for you and your family.