How to Maintain Your Furnace

Aside from being one of the more expensive appliances in your home, your furnace is typically the biggest consumer of utilities. So it makes sense that you should keep it operating at its best. What kind of maintenance does your furnace need? To answer that question, we’ve put together a list of tips about furnace care and upkeep.

Start with the basics when taking care of your furnace and air conditioning system:

  • Replace or clean your furnace filter every month or as needed
  • Inspect the blower motor to ensure it’s working properly
  • Oil motors as needed
  • Inspect the thermostat for proper operation and calibration
  • Vacuum dust from inside the furnace unit and clean the blades of the air filter
  • Insulate your attic and seal your home’s windows and doors
  • Check that the vents are not blocked
  • Change the batteries on your carbon monoxide detectors
  • Verify that the gas furnace’s exhaust line is clear
  • Check the incoming air flow and the air/fuel mixture
  • Keep flammable items far away from the furnace’s heat source
  • Clean the furnace’s ducting and venting
  • Verify that the air conditioner’s condensate drain hose is unobstructed
  • Vacuum or spray the dust and debris from the evaporator coil of your air conditioner

Do You Need to Service Your Furnace Every Year?

Ask any HVAC professional that question, and you’re likely to get the same answer: a resounding “yes.” With so many moving parts, an annual tune up and inspection is key. But, depending on your location, it may not be necessary.

The amount of use it gets and local weather conditions play an important role. If your system’s blowers are operating with the air conditioning to cool the house during the summer, a dual service schedule may be in order — one in the spring for the air conditioner system and another in the fall for the heating system.

If you install a smart home thermostat, it may be programmable to remind you that annual service is required or that your filter needs to be replaced. Other benefits include being able to create a custom home heating profile that keeps the house warm while you’re there and cool while you’re away. You’ll save money on energy bills and stay just as warm.

What Happens If You Don’t Change the Furnace Filter?

One simple way to prevent furnace problems is to swap out the filter frequently. As filters age with use, they actually block airflow into the heating system with dust accumulating. And that can lead to a host of other issues with the unit.

  • Blower motors have to work harder and can become compromised over time
  • Airflow through the vents will be limited and your home may take more time to heat up
  • Household dust, microorganisms and contaminants can accumulate on dirty filters and spread across your home
  • Energy costs will likely be higher because your system’s working harder

When Should You Get a Furnace Tune Up?

In addition to getting your furnace serviced annually, refer to your furnace’s user guide — it’s a great resource for maintenance schedules and timetables. Much like your car requires an 80,000 mile advanced inspection, after a few years of use, your furnace does too.

Think about budgeting for repairs or replacement of your furnace now, if it’s over 10 years old. When the HVAC maintenance professional is at your home, ask for a quote to replace the system. That way, you’ll know how much it’s going to take when the furnace eventually needs to be replaced.

Are Furnace Service Plans Worth the Cost?

Service plans help to keep your furnace care predictable and maintenance expenses fixed. If you’ve just bought a home and the service history of the furnace is unknown, it can be a good idea.

Maintenance agreements or service contracts that are offered by HVAC equipment contracting groups usually cost a set fee for a bi-annual inspection. Upgraded and more costly plans typically include some parts and labor services if issues are uncovered during the inspection. Even better plans offer priority service to quickly manage emergencies in most cases.

It may be wise to have your furnace inspected and ask the technician what type of plan they would recommend, given the age and condition of your furnace. You may get insights into potential issues that could save you a lot of money in a few months if you select the right maintenance plan.

 

How Much Does It Cost for Furnace Maintenance?

Most introductory maintenance contracts cost about $100 per visit, with extra costs for parts and filters. When you consider that most furnace repairs run about $270 and max out around $1,000, paying a little more upfront for regular maintenance can help prevent big expensive repairs. And as an added benefit, you get the knowledge that your utilities are being used efficiently.

How Long Does A Gas Furnace Last?

The average life span of a natural gas-burning furnace can really vary due to variation in manufacturing and overall differences in quality, one product to the next. But with regularly scheduled maintenance, you can expect your furnace to last at least 15 years or more.

What Do You Do When Your Furnace Goes Out?

When your furnace stops working, it’s time to troubleshoot. Refer to your user guide or the manufacturer’s website for details on warning signs and what to do when known issues or recalls occur. If your furnace stops working, check out these things to do before calling a service tech:

  • Turn off both the furnace and the thermostat
  • Replace the filter
  • Verify that the natural gas valves are in the on position
  • Verify that the blower motor’s panel is secure and in the proper position
  • Inspect the air ducts for blocks and obstructions
  • Upon turning the power back on, if heat is getting into some rooms or not others check the vents and dampers leading to the unheated rooms
  • To warm your home in the meantime, use electric radiant heaters safely and don’t use space heaters

After walking through these scenarios, it may be time to get in touch with a service professional if you’re still not able to get your home to warm up. You may be in need of more serious repairs. Some groups offer an estimate for work based on your findings which gives you the opportunity to collect a few bids before hiring a contractor.

How Much Does a New Furnace Cost?

The national average cost to replace a natural gas-burning furnace ranges from $2,100 to $6,000, but most homeowners can expect to pay around $3,000 for a new furnace. Of course, prices will vary based on the size of the home and the quality of the furnace. Another factor to consider is that state and federal tax rebates may be available for high-efficiency and EnergyStar compliant machines, and that can help to offset the expense at tax time.

There’s a lot riding on your home’s furnace, so keep it operating smoothly with regular maintenance. Another way you can protect your furnace is with our equipment breakdown coverage that can help pay for the costs of your home’s appliances and electronics if the unexpected happens. Get in touch with your American Family Insurance agent and learn about how this great coverage can benefit you and your finances.


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Related Topics: Home DIY