Most of us only think about our furnaces when it starts getting cold. But leaving it untouched for months and months could spell trouble for your home.
A well-maintained furnace not only keeps your home comfortably warm but also enhances energy efficiency and safety. Today, we’ll be providing you with a comprehensive furnace tune up checklist, so that you can feel confident in your furnace.
How Often Should You Do a Furnace Tune-Up?
Regular furnace maintenance is key to keeping your heating system running smoothly. But how often should you schedule a furnace tune-up? The frequency of maintenance depends on various factors, including the age of your furnace, its usage, and the type of fuel it uses. Here are some general guidelines to help you determine the ideal timing for a furnace tune-up:
- Annual Maintenance: In most cases, it’s recommended to schedule a furnace tune-up at least once a year. Fall is often the best time to do this, right before the heating season kicks in. This allows you to address any potential issues before they become major problems.
- High Usage: If you use your furnace extensively throughout the year, consider more frequent tune-ups. Homes in colder climates that rely heavily on heating may benefit from two tune-ups a year – one in the fall and another in the spring.
- Older Furnaces: Furnaces that are over 10 years old are more susceptible to wear and tear. For older units, it’s wise to schedule tune-ups more frequently, possibly twice a year, to ensure they continue operating efficiently.
- Fuel Type: The type of fuel your furnace uses can also affect maintenance frequency. For instance, oil furnaces may require more frequent attention than natural gas furnaces due to the nature of the fuel.
- Manufacturer Recommendations: Always consult your furnace’s user manual or contact the manufacturer for their specific maintenance recommendations. Following their guidelines can help prolong the life of your furnace.
21 Steps for Tuning Up a Furnace
Performing a furnace tune-up involves a series of essential steps that ensure your heating system operates efficiently and safely. While some tasks may require professional assistance, there are several maintenance tasks you can do yourself. Here’s a breakdown of the key steps involved in tuning up a furnace:
1. Turn Off the Power
Before you begin any maintenance tasks, turn off the power to your furnace. Locate the switch on the furnace or shut off the circuit breaker that supplies power to the unit. Safety should always be a top priority.
2. Replace Air Filters
One of the simplest yet most effective tasks you can perform is changing or cleaning your furnace’s air filters. Dirty or clogged filters restrict airflow, making your furnace work harder and less efficiently. Replace disposable filters or clean reusable ones according to the manufacturer’s recommendations.
3. Clean the Blower Assembly
The blower assembly is responsible for circulating warm air throughout your home. Carefully remove the access panel, vacuum any accumulated dust and debris, and clean the blower blades and motor. Ensure the blower belt is properly tensioned and doesn’t show signs of wear.
4. Inspect and Clean the Burner and Combustion Chamber
If you have a gas furnace, inspect the burner assembly and combustion chamber. Look for signs of rust, corrosion, or soot buildup. If necessary, clean the burner and combustion chamber using a soft brush or vacuum. Check for any loose or damaged components.
5. Check the Ignition System
Inspect the ignition system to ensure it’s functioning correctly. This is especially important for gas furnaces. If you have a pilot light, make sure it’s lit and burning a steady blue flame. For electronic ignition systems, check for any loose or damaged wires.
6. Lubricate Moving Parts
Proper lubrication of moving parts such as motors, bearings, and pulleys reduces friction and extends their lifespan. Refer to your furnace’s user manual for specific lubrication points and use the recommended lubricants.
7. Inspect and Clean the Heat Exchanger
The heat exchanger is a crucial component that separates combustion gases from the heated air. Inspect it for cracks, rust, or any signs of damage, as a compromised heat exchanger can release harmful gases. Cleaning it may require professional assistance.
8. Test the Thermostat
Check the thermostat’s accuracy by setting it to your desired temperature and ensuring the furnace cycles on and off accordingly. If you have a programmable thermostat, verify that all settings are correct.
9. Check Electrical Connections
Examine the electrical connections, including wires, terminals, and switches, for signs of corrosion or loose connections. Tighten any loose connections and replace damaged wires.
10. Inspect Ventilation
Ensure that all vents and flues are clear of obstructions. Proper ventilation is essential for the safe operation of your furnace. Verify that exhaust gases are venting outdoors and not entering your home.
11. Inspect Blower Wheel
Your technician will make sure that air is flowing freely through the blower wheel
12. Static Pressure Test
A static pressure test is performed on your vents to make sure the airflow is optimal.
13.) Test Amp Draw
In order to avoid tripping the breaker or other electrical issues, your technician will test the amp draw from your outlets.
14) Test Temperature Split
Each furnace system has a set temperature split between the return and supply air. We’ll make sure that yours is compliant with the manufacturer’s specs.
15) Test Resistance
We’ll test your ignitor to make sure it is giving the proper resistance, as per manufacturer instructions.
16) Combustion Test
In order to make sure that the gas to air ratio is safe for your home, we’ll perform a combustion test on your furnace.
17) Change Thermostat Batteries
An accurate thermostat reading is key to maintaining your home’s optimal temperature. If needed, we will replace the batteries.
18. Test the Safety Controls
Your furnace includes various safety controls and sensors that monitor its operation. Test these safety features to ensure they’re functioning correctly. This includes the limit switch, flame sensor, and pressure switch.
19. Perform a Carbon Monoxide Test
As a safety precaution, consider using a carbon monoxide detector to check for the presence of this odorless gas. If you don’t have a carbon monoxide detector, consider installing one in close proximity to your furnace.
20. Reassemble and Restore Power
Once you’ve completed the tune-up tasks and are satisfied with the condition of your furnace, reassemble any panels or covers you removed. Turn the power back on at the furnace and circuit breaker.
21. Schedule Professional Maintenance
While many furnace maintenance tasks can be done by homeowners, it’s essential to schedule a professional furnace inspection and tune-up at least once a year. A qualified technician can perform more in-depth diagnostics, identify potential issues, and ensure your furnace is operating safely and efficiently.
Signs of a Furnace Malfunction
Regular maintenance is crucial, but it’s equally important to be aware of the signs that your furnace may be malfunctioning. Recognizing these signs early can prevent costly breakdowns and ensure the safety of your home. Here are some common indicators of a furnace malfunction:
- Reduced Heating Efficiency: If you notice that your furnace isn’t heating your home as effectively as it used to, it’s a sign that something might be amiss. Reduced heating efficiency can result from clogged filters, burner issues, or other internal problems.
- Unusual Noises: Strange noises like banging, rattling, or squealing coming from your furnace can be a cause for concern. These noises may indicate loose or damaged components that need attention.
- Frequent Cycling: If your furnace turns on and off frequently, it’s known as short cycling. This not only affects comfort but also puts additional stress on the system, potentially leading to more significant problems.
- Increased Energy Bills: A sudden spike in your energy bills without a corresponding change in usage can signal that your furnace is working harder than it should due to inefficiency or malfunction.
- Strange Odors: Unusual odors, especially the smell of gas, can be a serious safety concern. If you detect gas or a burning odor, turn off your furnace immediately and contact a professional.
- Yellow or Flickering Pilot Light: In gas furnaces, the pilot light should be a steady blue flame. A yellow or flickering pilot light may indicate incomplete combustion, which can release harmful gases into your home.
- Carbon Monoxide Detector Alarms: Carbon monoxide (CO) is a colorless, odorless gas that can be produced by malfunctioning furnaces. If your carbon monoxide detector goes off, evacuate your home immediately and seek professional help.
Get The Help You Need With Aquarius
As a homeowner, you have a lot of responsibilities. Taking care of your furnace doesn’t have to be one of them. Instead, call on the heating and cooling pros at Aquarius Home Services. Ready to get started? Contact us today to set up your tune up appointment.