Furnace Maintenance: Keep Your System in Optimal Shape
Maintaining your heating systems properly must be intentional, based on some basic understanding of the requirements involved. HVAC systems are complex mechanical systems and need seasonal attention, customized for each system. Furnace Maintenance tasks include:
The V in HVAC stands for ventilation and the ventilation system requires significant maintenance. The maintenance problem for the ventilation system is airborne particles–dust, dander, pet hair, pollen, mold spores, etc., –and these particles get everywhere.
- Air Filters. It may seem that HVAC professionals remind homeowners too much about air filters, but a clogged filter consistently remains a major problem that leads to breakdowns. Filters are available in hardware, home improvement, and major box stores. Filters are relatively inexpensive, and you will need at least four every year; your filter should be changed every three years, one for every season. Don’t wait for a repair technician to change your filter.
- Dusting, Mopping, and Vacuuming. Particles that are not captured in the air filter fall all over the place and must be cleaned up. You might be surprised that common housecleaning is included in a list of HVAC maintenance tasks, but removing dust helps keep your ventilation system clean.
- Ductwork Cleaning. Airborne particles not captured by the air filter or vacuum cleaner can end up in your supply and return air vents. For personal health and HVAC efficiency, it is recommended that the ductwork be cleaned every 3 to 5 years, more when necessary.
- Cleaning the Blower Fan. It sounds a little crazy: how can dust collect on the moving blades of a fan? But look up at the ceiling fan. I don’t know how, but it does collect there. The blower fan moves the entire volume of air in your home about every two minutes. When dust collects on the blades, it slows the fan rotation. Do you know where this fan is located? It is usually best to leave this task to a technician.
Heating System Tasks
Furnaces come in two major types in the U.S.: natural gas-powered and electric heating systems. Some furnace maintenance tasks are the same on both types of systems, but some of these tasks are very different.
Natural Gas System Furnace Maintenance
- A gas-powered furnace receives natural gas, burns the gas to produce heat, and exhausts the spent gases; it is important to consider this combustion as a complete process.
- During the summer months the gas supply to the furnace should be shut off as a safety precaution. Newer systems have electric ignition and older systems have a pilot light; a small flame that stays lit to ignite the burner as needed. If your system has a pilot light, it will need to be lit before the first heating cycle. Follow lighting instructions.
- Combustion of natural gas produces significant water vapor, which will produce rust on unprotected metals. The rust will lead to damage to the burner and interfere with combustion. It can also cause a leak in the heat exchanger, potentially allowing carbon monoxide to leak into your home.
- Interfering with combustion increases the production of carbon monoxide. It decreases the energy efficiency of the furnace and increases the danger to the environment. An indication of combustion problems will be a yellow flame rather than a blue flame. Another indication will be the presence of soot, a black powder commonly associated with ashes.
- Don’t forget the exhaust, which should consist of carbon dioxide and steam. Maintenance will include keeping pests from creating homes inside the exhaust stack.
Electrical Heating System Maintenance
Some heating systems use heat pump technology, the same refrigerant gas process used during air conditioning. There is enough residual heat outside to provide heat to the entire home until the temperature drops below a certain threshold temperature, at approximately 320 F. The same maintenance tasks required to keep the air conditioner functioning properly are required to keep the heat pump operating for the heating season.
Both types of systems will use the same electrical controls, sensors, and switches, such as a thermostat. These sensitive electronics require regular maintenance by an HVAC technician.
Let us help with your Furnace Maintenance and Heater Repair.
Northwind Air Conditioning and Heat can help you with your furnace maintenance and HVAC repair needs. Contact us and get the help you need.