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HVAC For Beginners, Your Friend In The Industry

Furnace Maintenance, Do It Yourself & Save

That's right, with some really basic furnace maintenance you will save money. You can extend the life of your system. ( That is good considering a new one can cost thousands.) Also, your system will run more efficiently saving you money every day. An added benefit is that you will also be more comfortable. Most HVAC companies offer service agreements, where they will come and perform the routine service. They normally range in price from $200 to $500 depending on the plan and the company. But, you can do it yourself and save.

Gas Furnaces

First, we will look at gas furnaces. You should check for dirt, rust, etc. inside the furnace and clean as necessary. You should also check the vent pipes to make sure they are not blocked and are in good physical condition. You should clean or replace the air filters. At this time it is a good idea to ensure that the blower wheel is clean and to oil the motor if required.

**NOTE** Most newer furnace blower motors do not require oiling.

If you have a condensing furnace, you should check to make sure the condensate drain is not clogged. You should also check your thermostat. If it is not a digital unit, ensure that it is perfectly level. This would be a good time for thermostat replacement. Normally, replacing a mechanical thermostat with a digital unit, will save about 5-10% on the heating bills. Finally, you should run the furnace through a normal heating cycle to check for proper operation. During this cycle, you should check the temperature rise across the furnace.

**NOTE** The furnace should have been running for ten minutes before you measure operating temperatures.

To do so, you should measure the return air temperature (temperature of air entering the furnace) and the supply air temperature (temperature of air leaving the furnace). Then, you should subtract the return air temperature from the supply air temperature. You will find a recommended temperature rise range typically about 35-65 degrees)on the label plate for the furnace. Compare the value you measured with the label plate. If the temperature rise you measured is below the minimum range for your furnace, the blower heating speed can normally be reduced. If the temperature rise you measured is above the high range for your furnace, the blower heating speed can be increased.

Oil Furnaces

To perform furnace maintenance on oil fired furnaces, you should start by looking for oil leaks. Check the tank and all the fuel lines for signs of leaking. It is a good idea to replace the fuel filter at this time. The inside of the furnace should be cleaned every year. These units will build up deposits on the inside which will lower the units'efficiency. You should inspect the vent pipes to ensure they are clean and unobstructed. Next, you should check the blower wheel and clean as necessary and clean/replace the air filter. If the blower is belt driven, you should check the belt for cracks and replace as necessary. Check the thermostat for level if it is not digital. Run the system through a normal heating cycle and check the temperature rise.

Electric Furnaces

To perform furnace maintenance on electric furnaces, you should shut off the power to the unit and check to make sure all the electrical connections are tight.Check the blower wheel and clean/replace the filter. Check the thermostat for level if it is not digital. You should also run the system through a normal cycle and check the temperature rise.

Don't Forget To Check

While performing your furnace maintenance, it is also a good idea to check the operation of your smoke and carbon monoxide detectors. This should be done at least on a monthly basis throughout the year.

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