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What is Furnace Maintenance (and why is it important)?

Furnace maintenance is the complete and total cleaning and inspection of your heating system which consists of three main parts – the filter system, the blower, and the motor. Furnace maintenance is a preventative measure and helps prolong the life of your investment. Some homeowners do not understand how important furnace maintenance truly is because dirt is the “biggest enemy” of your heating system as it requires everything to work harder and affects all parts of your furnace.

We get it- service calls can be a pain to take time out of your workday to be at home while a service technician cleans and checks your furnace, which could only be a couple of years old. However, just like going to the dentist or having the oil in your car changed, it is necessary for the life of your furnace, which is a major home investment. After all, preventative care is less expensive and painful than costly repairs or even having to replace your entire furnace!

This article covers what happens during furnace maintenance, the benefits of regular furnace maintenance, how often it should be done, and the average cost!

What Happens During a Furnace Maintenance Service Call?

There is currently no industry standard for checking and cleaning a furnace. It truly varies on the HVAC company you hire. A typical furnace clean and check can include:

  • Checking gas pressures
  • Evaluate thermostats
  • Change batteries in thermostats
  • Clean and adjust blower components, if needed
  • Clean and flush condensation drains, if needed
  • Check heat strips
  • Clean or replace filters
  • Lubricate all moving parts
  • Measure for correct airflow
  • Measure temperature difference
  • Measure all volts and amps
  • Test starting capabilities
  • Test safety controls
  • Tighten all electrical connections

Benefits of Regular Furnace Maintenance

There are several benefits of regular furnace maintenance.

1) Saves Money

A yearly maintenance call can save you hard-earned money on two fronts. First, having your furnace serviced before the cold front hits every year will ensure your system is working as efficiently as possible. Your furnace makes up about half of your energy bill, so if it is not working correctly, your energy bills will be much higher.

In addition to saving money through your utility bills, furnace maintenance also extends the life of your costly heating system. Annual furnace maintenance will make sure your furnace lives a long life for you and your family!

2) Stay Eligible for your Manufacturer’s Warranty

Did you know most manufacturers will not cover your furnace if it breaks down due to a lack of regular maintenance? There is typically some verbiage in the warranty which states this. Be prepared to provide detailed service records if your furnace completely stops working for any reason. You do not want to be stuck with a surprise bill if the warranty ends up getting voided due to improper care of your HVAC system.

3) Identifies Potential Dangers

When having your furnace maintained, the service technicians check for gas leaks and carbon monoxide leaks. As you know, gas leaks or carbon monoxide leaks going undetected are highly dangerous and could cause death. Having your furnace maintained can potentially be lifesaving.

  • Signs of a gas leak include:
  • The smell of sulfur
  • Whistling sound near the gas line
  • Bubbles in water
  • Dead houseplants
  • Breathing difficulties
  • Flu-like symptoms
  • Headaches
  • Nausea
  • And more…

Carbon monoxide is both odorless and colorless, which makes it incredibly dangerous!

Signs of carbon monoxide poisoning include:

  • Headache
  • Dizziness
  • Weakness
  • Upset stomach
  • Vomiting
  • Chest pain
  • Confusion

Frequency of Furnace Maintenance

The good news is you only need to have your furnace cleaned and checked annually! It is best to do right before the cold weather hits, just to make sure your home is prepared to handle the winter weather. While you only need to have your furnace checked yearly, it is also important to change your air filters too. HVAC experts recommend changing filters quarterly, but the technicians who are performing yearly maintenance should be doing this for you. Animals and allergies will require homeowners to change their filters more often.

  • Homes without pets: change filters every ninety days
  • Homes with one pet: change filters every sixty days
  • Homes with more than one pet or people with allergies and/or asthma: change filters every twenty to forty-five days

The reason why it is so important to change the air filters so often is that excessive dust and dirt will block the airflow, which forces your unit to work harder than it needs to, which can lead to breakdowns.

The Cost of Furnace Maintenance and Maintenance Agreements

The cost of furnace maintenance can vary greatly, depending on the region of the United States and the company you hire. It is typically more cost-effective to explore a service or maintenance agreement with the HVAC company of your choosing.

The cost of a single furnace clean and check, without a signed agreement, can cost a homeowner anywhere from $90 up to $130.

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Abby Dowd

Business Developer | Dowd Heat & Air