Annual maintenance is the single best way to ensure your furnace remains functional, reliable, and efficient. A winter breakdown can put your home’s comfort and safety at risk. Maintenance tasks are performed by an experienced HVAC contractor, but there are things you can do to protect your furnace and lower your bills. For example, you can calibrate your thermostat or set it back 7° to 10°F for 8 hours, which can yield annual savings.

When a contractor visits your home, make sure they closely follow this checklist to help avoid problems and losses in efficiency:

• Clean the furnace: While you should keep areas around your furnace and its air intake clean, a technician can check the filter and replace it if it’s clogged or worn. They can also safely clean the burners to improve combustion and improve furnace longevity.

• Heat Exchanger: Inspecting the heat exchanger can reveal cracks and signs of deterioration, which can cause toxic fumes to be released. These can cause serious injury and illness if left unchecked.

• Flue Pipe: Leaks, corrosion, and improper connections can occur. Your inspector can correct these and replace the pipe before there are major consequences.

• Belts/Pulleys: Belts can loosen, and pulleys can wear out with age, which can decrease airflow and shorten the life of the compressor.

• Cleaning/Adjustments: Various other components are important for proper function, so your inspector can clean and adjust:

• Fan switches

• Pilot/pilot assemblies

• Gas lines

• Combustion air openings

• Controls and safety features

In addition, an inspector should:

• Record furnace temperature and performance

• Lubricate motors and bearings

• Check and record power draw of the blower motor, compressor, and condenser fan motors, and inspect electrical connections.

Maintenance also goes beyond your furnace, and should include:

• Thermostats: If a thermostat isn’t properly calibrated, the furnace can run longer than it needs to, adding to heating costs.

• Ceiling Fans: By reversing ceiling fans, the clockwise rotation pushes rising warm air back down into your living space. This can reduce heating costs by as much as 10%.

• Ductwork: If air is leaking from your ducts into the attic or crawl space, it can add hundreds of dollars a year to your energy bills. Up to 30% of conditioned air can escape through duct leaks.

• Insulation: If the insulation is inadequate, your heating system will have to work harder to maintain comfortable temperatures in your home.

• Sunlight: Opening your shades and draperies on south-facing windows can allow sunlight to heat your home in winter; close them at night to prevent heat from escaping.

Furnace problems can arise in between maintenance checks. Call a technician if you notice:

• Unusual Sounds: Loud noises can indicate a mechanical issue. If you hear a high-pitched squeal, the blower belt may be slipped or frayed. Other sounds to listen for include rattling, banging, and popping.

• Unusual Odors: The smell of rotten eggs can mean a gas leak. If you notice a musty or grimy odor, an oil leak may be present. You can even sense signs of motor trouble if there’s a metal or iron smell.

Schedule an Appointment Early in the Season

Early maintenance prepares your furnace for winter. To set up an appointment, contact Absolute Airflow. Our licensed furnace repair technicians are trained to check for problems and perform any necessary repairs and part replacements. We provide 24-hour emergency heating repair for gas and electric furnaces and can service thermostats, boilers, and central heating systems. Call us today to schedule your annual furnace maintenance.