Let’s face it, heating your Nebraska/Iowa home in the winter is rather important. So taking care of your HVAC year round is something a homeowner should do to keep those units working properly for as long as possible.
Routine maintenance is the key.
- The simplest task a homeowner can do is to change the furnace filter every month. It’s the simplest, but most commonly forgotten. Do this on a regular basis!
- Keep the blower motor bearings well lubricated if accessible.
- Keep the blower unit free of dirt by vacuuming it periodically, but make sure you shut off its circuit breaker before you do so.
- Test your exposed duct-work joints for air leaks. Hold up a lit stick of incense to the joints while the furnace is running to locate air leaks. Seal up compromised areas using metal tape.
- Check your thermostat’s accuracy. Put an outdoor thermometer on the wall next to the thermostat. Run the furnace for several minutes, and then compare the thermometer’s reading to the displayed room temperature.
- Check to see when the last time your HVAC was serviced. If you aren’t sure, check the actual furnace. It’s common for service companies to leave their calling card or sticker on the unit with the last date of service and contact information. If it’s been more than 2 years, consider making this the year to schedule your service. Be prepared to share some information about your furnace: The age, make/manufacture and the date it was last serviced if you know.
What’s in it for me?
When your furnace is properly maintained, it operates efficiently, which reduces fuel and energy waste and lowers your annual heating costs. An annual tune-up by a qualified and experienced technician can help extend the life of your heating equipment by preventing unnecessary damage to vital system components. During a routine maintenance visit, your HVAC specialist can identify and address small problems before they progress into more serious issues that require costly repairs or replacements. Lastly, routine maintenance can help prevent safety issues, such as the risk of fire, and the dangers posed by unhealthy gas fumes, and lethal carbon monoxide leaks as discussed in our last weeks blog on heat exchangers.
What to expect with a professional furnace inspection
The steps performed during a routine furnace inspection vary depending on the company you hire. As a general rule, you should expect that an experienced professional will include the following tasks but be sure to ask! (The below list is NOT done by a home inspector during a whole house inspection unless specified otherwise.)
- Inspecting 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 as mentioned in last weeks blog.
- 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.
- Inspecting 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. This can reduce the risk of fire, and help extend the life of the blower components.
- Checking the burner for proper ignition and testing the flame sensor for accurate operation.
- Lubricating all the motor’s moving parts to reduce friction. When there’s friction, the motor has to work harder, which requires more electricity, and it could also result in a premature failure.
- Checking that all electrical connections are tight and examining the wiring for signs of rust and corrosion.
- Testing the thermostat calibration. When the thermostat is calibrated correctly, your home will be more comfortable. It can also save you money on your energy bills by preventing overheating.
- Examining the flue for obstructions. If the toxic fumes that result from combustion can’t escape up the flue due to a blockage, your indoor air quality will suffer.
- Testing for the unit’s safety controls. This should include checking the high limit control, which prevents the furnace from overheating and reduces the risk of fire.
- Checking the belts for signs of wear or cracks.
- Testing that the system’s startup cycle is functioning correctly.
- Checking the furnace’s air filter. A dirty filter can reduce the unit’s efficiency by restricting needed air flow, and damage vital system components over time.
If you are having AmeriSpec provide you with a home inspection or a pre-sale inspection, we offer a unique and optional service which goes above and beyond the traditional HVAC inspection performed by most inspection companies. Call us for further details on our “More exhaustive HVAC inspection”. It’s the AmeriSpec difference.
- On November 29, 2017
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