Furnace Care



As summer turns to fall, inevitably the day comes where it’s time to switch your thermostat from ‘cool’ to ‘heat,’ and bring your furnace to life. But how well your furnace performs depends on how well it’s maintained, because even a new furnace loses efficiency after just one year.

The combustion chamber is a common source of lost efficiency.

Lost efficiency begins in the combustion chamber. Soot buildup can corrode chamber walls; cleaning it out boosts performance. Before replacing the cover, it’s important to inspect for holes and corrosion.

Damage to the heat exchanger can affect performance and safety.

The heat exchanger should be carefully inspected by a professional, because a cracked exchanger can potentially increase carbon monoxide levels, which can pose a danger to a home’s occupants. That’s why testing combustion ensures not just performance, but safety as well. Gases are measured in the exhaust flue, checking for proper fuel and air balance.

Burners and ignitors should be checked carefully.

The burner may need adjustment. The burner flame’s color and shape at the ignitor are the best indication of complete and stable combustion.

In gas furnaces, ignitor tubes are typically vacuumed clean as part of an annual checkup. Your system’s exhaust flue pipe also needs careful inspection for holes that could allow carbon monoxide leaks. While smaller holes can be patched, a corroded flue pipe should be replaced.

Finally, there are some steps homeowners can take to help their systems breathe easier.

Check and replace air filters regularly. Be sure to use the right size. Pleated ones work best. You should also annually remove and clean registers, and vacuum floor ducts. Lost efficiency means increased energy bills. That’s why annual maintenance helps keep your home warm and your system efficient.