Why Should You Regularly Maintain Your Furnace?
Furnace maintenance benefits last all year round, but especially when winter hits in Louisville, Kentucky. Furnaces experience more use in the winter months, which means the system needs maintenance care to prep it for this period of heavy use. With preventative maintenance, preventable issues become nonexistent.
Jarboe’s Plumbing, Heating, & Cooling discusses how furnaces work and how preventative maintenance keeps furnaces working all winter long. We also mention some of the most common problems homeowners experience when they skip out on maintenance as well as how homeowners make the most of their professional maintenance checks after the HVAC technician leaves.
Furnaces: How Do They Work?
Most homeowners know what the furnace does, but few know the process furnaces use to get warm air in the house. Furnace maintenance benefits become more ambiguous when you don’t know what you’re dealing with, which is why learning the process is crucial to the longevity of your furnace. When homeowners understand what goes on inside the furnace, they understand the importance of keeping up with preventative maintenance.
Most homes have a gas-powered furnace to heat air. These systems use gas to heat the air before it circulates through the rooms in the house. To effectively reach all the rooms, a network of ductwork and vents are connected to the furnace, which run throughout the home.
The thermostat lets the furnace know when to turn on based on the indoor environmental temperature. Homeowners set a temperature and the thermostat lets the furnace know when the indoor temperature has fallen below that point. The furnace turns on and heats the home to a comfortable temperature. Preventative furnace maintenance benefits the functionality of the thermostat as well.
Once a heating cycle starts, the burners burn gas within the heat exchanger, producing heat for the surrounding air. From there, air goes to the blower and fan, which then moves it to the ducts. Finally, the warm air is distributed to each room in your home.
At any point during this process, furnace malfunctions have the potential to keep warmed air from circulating through the house. Furnace maintenance benefits the overall system because it ensures each part stays functional. Maintenance by a professional must be planned once every year to get the most out of your furnace.
Common Furnace Problems
There are several common furnace problems homeowners experience throughout the winter. These issues range in severity, but all are preventable. This means furnace maintenance benefits your home because it stops entirely preventable problems.
- Yellow pilot light. Out of all of the problems on this list, a yellow or flickering pilot light is one of the most worrisome. A yellow pilot light indicates a gas leak. Regular pilot light flames are blue in color and are constant. Any flickering also indicates a leak of either gas or carbon monoxide.
- Dirty filters. Next, dirty filters present a much less dangerous scenario, but still troubles homeowners because it impacts indoor air quality or IAQ. Furnace maintenance benefits IAQ because filters are changed during visits. A dirty filter impedes good airflow and circulates dirty air into the home.
- System control problems. Pilot lights must be on all the time for the furnace to work. If it goes off quickly, or refuses to light altogether, you have a problem on your hands. The only way to properly diagnose a pilot light problem is through professional help. An HVAC technician reliably finds the problem and offers solutions on the spot. On your own, solutions are much harder to determine because the pilot light experiences problems for a host of reasons.
- Heat exchanger problems. Over time, heat exchangers wear down because they perform the brunt of the work to heat the air. Cracks and breaks prevent the air from getting warm while also exposing your household to dangerous combustion byproducts. When the heat exchanger is broken, you don’t receive proper heating – a frustrating issue during the winter. Repairs and replacements for the heat exchanger are often expensive and take time to complete, so you want them caught and performed ahead of the cold winter season.
- Thermostat issues. The thermostat controls a large portion of the furnace, so it must be maintained to ensure the functionality of the system as a whole. Preventative furnace maintenance benefits the thermostat because HVAC technicians are able to fix problems as well as help homeowners set efficient temperature schedules to reflect the winter weather.
- Strange sounds. Noises from the furnace arise in a multitude of circumstances. Most commonly, furnaces make noise when the filter gets too dirty. However, problems with the mechanics or the airflow also point to noise-producing problems and are more difficult to handle, such as bad motor bearings.
- Blower always runs. Do you constantly hear the blower running? If so, you likely have a problem with the switch or the thermostat. The blower turns off when the temperature reaches the thermostat’s temperature setting, but if it continues to run it costs homeowners money. Energy bills rise when the blower stays on and the system’s energy efficiency significantly decreases.
- Frayed blower belt. Furnace maintenance benefits the blower belts because HVAC technicians check if the belt has frayed or slipped from its proper place. You likely hear the blower belt if it’s out of place. It produces a whining noise. The belt helps distribute the warm air throughout your home, so it’s crucial to the system. Because of this, frays or slippages deeply impact the functionality of the furnace overall.
- Frequent cycles. The thermostat tells the furnace when to turn on and off based on temperature changes in the home. However, if the furnace switches on and off too frequently, a problem has occurred somewhere along the line. This issue is called short cycling, and it is caused by a number of different issues. A technician diagnoses the source to reduce system wear and tear and improve comfort.
Furnace Maintenance Benefits You
Preventative maintenance to your furnace keeps preventable problems from becoming costly repairs or replacements. Common issues like the ones listed above are entirely preventable, which means you experience fewer problems when it matters with regular maintenance. Schedule annual maintenance to get the most of these benefits.
- Safety. First and foremost, furnace maintenance benefits the overall safety of your system. Furnaces use gas to power the system, which means gas leaks are possible. To prevent any leaks of gas or carbon monoxide, professionals check the gas valve, heat exchanger and the pilot light to make sure everything is in good condition.
- Proper airflow. Over time, furnaces do not distribute air as evenly as when they’re brand new. Problems with the airflow usually stem from the blower or fans, so technicians check there for anything impeding airflow. After just one maintenance visit, the airflow becomes better and only increases with annual service.
- System longevity. Preventative furnace maintenance benefits the system because it increases the lifespan of the unit. After long periods of time without maintenance, pieces and parts become worn and eventually break. However, with regular service the furnace components are tuned annually, which helps them last longer.
- Time saver. When the furnace breaks down, it takes time to get a professional out to fix it. In the winter when the temperatures are low, the time it takes for an HVAC technician to arrive becomes unbearable. Plus, the repairs themselves also take a generous amount of time. Maintenance takes a fraction of the time as repairs.
- Fewer repairs. Likewise, furnaces experience fewer repairs and replacements overall with regular service. When parts are well-maintained, they don’t deteriorate as fast. When the HVAC technician services the furnace, they check for any potential issue, which means they discover and diagnose problems before they reach breaking point.
- Lower energy bill. Furnace maintenance benefits your energy bill as well. Because well-maintained furnaces use less energy, the cost of your bill decreases over time. Preventative care also keeps repair and replacement costs low.
- Manufacturer’s warranty. Manufacturers have rules for their warranties and yearly maintenance usually is written in the terms and conditions. This is to keep the manufacturer from paying for preventable issues. With regular maintenance, you not only prevent those issues, you also stay within the terms of the warranty. When unexpected issues arise, you need the warranty to cut the cost of repairs.
- Air quality improves. Filters are checked and changed during maintenance visits, which ensures the air quality stays high. Along with filter changes, the HVAC technician lets the homeowner know about new technologies available to increase the IAQ.
- Energy efficiency. Lastly, furnace maintenance benefits the energy efficiency of the unit. Well-maintained furnaces use energy more efficiently than units without annual maintenance. When the furnace uses energy efficiently, your bill gets lower and uses less gas to power the system, which helps the environment.
At-Home Ways to Increase Furnace Maintenance Benefits
Professional furnace maintenance benefits the homeowner in many ways, but they also have control over the functionality of the furnace. When the HVAC technician leaves—and before they arrive—homeowners make the most of their service with these easy at-home tasks.
- Dust regularly. Dust your home regularly to reduce the amount of air pollutants. When dust sits around your home, it gets blown into the air when the furnace kicks on. The fans and blowers help the dust on surfaces float through the air and decrease your air quality.
- Clean around the system. Additionally, take extra time to clean around the furnace. Dust and dirt surrounding the unit gets sucked into the system and redistributed through the vents and ducts.
- Check filters. Finally, check your filters once a month. You don’t need to change them, but examine them for dirt and dust. If they are dirtier than normal, then it’s good to change them early. Even if they don’t need a change, it’s good to get into the habit of looking.
Furnace Maintenance Benefits with Jarboe’s
Furnace maintenance benefits more than just the health of the system overall. It improves air quality, lowers energy costs, and keeps you warm consistently all through the winter. In Louisville, Kentucky, it’s crucial for the furnace to work during the winter.
Jarboe’s Plumbing, Heating, & Cooling does regular maintenance and more. Give us a call today to schedule your annual visit!