Furnace Maintenance Overview
Like all machines, your furnace requires periodic maintenance in order for it to run safely and efficiently. In this article we’re going to talk about common wear items on a typical gas-powered furnace and some basic items that you’re going to want to periodically inspect.
Most furnaces have an operationally-reliable life of about 10 years. As furnaces age, the likelihood of a breakdown that requires a repair increases. Most furnaces come with a standard parts and labor warranty, with many warranties lasting 10 years or more.
Many of the maintenance items we are discussing in this article requires you to remove the combustion chamber door so that you can visually inspect the inside of the furnace. This is a simple process that is different for each furnace- find yours and follow the owner’s manual on how to remove it.
Unless explicitly specified, ensure the furnace is turned off and that the flow of gas is also turned off before doing any work on your furnace. It goes without saying that you should always call a professional to perform any work you are unsure of how to do.
Items to Inspect Quarterly
- Check the color of the burner flames – With the combustion chamber door removed, remove the burner cover. Turn the furnace ON and engage the furnace by turning up the thermostat.Inspect the color of the flame while remaining 16+ inches away. Do not breathe on the flame. It should be an even blue. If it appears yellow, the burners may be dirty and require cleaning.
- Inspect and replace the furnace filter – It is a best practice to replace the furnace filter every three months. A standard inexpensive furnace filter is sufficient.
- Inspect the drive belts – The drive belts should not have any frays or cracks. If they have either, they need to be replaced.
Items to Inspect Annually
These items are performed by our technicians during a furnace tune-up.
- Ensure the burners are clean – With the power and gas turned off, vacuum the burners. Vacuum all the dust you can, taking your time to be thorough.
- Ensure the blower cavity is clean – Remove the blower door and clean the entire compartment.
- Clean the blower blades – Dust and gunk can weigh down the blower fan, causing excess wear. Thoroughly clean the blower blades, taking time to ensure that they are all equally clean. Partially-cleaned blades may be unbalanced and cause problems.
- Dust the pilot light – Use a can of compressed air, or simply blow through a drinking straw, to blow the dust off of the pilot light.
- Clean the flame sensor – The flame sensor can become covered in grime, preventing the furnace from properly lighting. Use a fine emery cloth to clean the sensor.
- Dust the hot surface ignitor – This part is extremely delicate, do not touch it! Dust it with gentle airflow, such as blowing through a straw.