With cold weather upon us, chances are you have turned on your furnace for the season and are enjoying the warmth it brings to your home.

So, if everything seems to be working fine, should I still consider having maintenance service? Absolutely. Here are my reasons why:

An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of care

Your furnace system controls the temperature and moves air throughout your home to keep it comfortable while also filtering out dust and allergens. A yearly preventative maintenance inspection by a qualified service technician can keep your system functioning at peak efficiency by identifying problems from thermal stress, movement, or dust.

Common problems can include:

  • Dirty air filters restricting air flow and placing extra stress on the furnace
  • Dirty blower fan blades lowering air flow and making the blower motor work harder
  • Out of specification capacitor making the system work harder (and likely to fail soon)
  • Changes in performance over time as the equipment ages

An inspection can also find and repair less obvious problems like:

  • Loose blower belt
  • Improperly firing burners
  • Blocked condensation drain
  • Loose wiring harnesses

Yearly fall maintenance can save you time, frustration, and money when it’s done right by a trained technician. It may even prevent a mid-winter failure by nipping a pending problem in the bud.

Change those filters!

change those filtersNext to having your furnace checked annually by a trained professional, changing your filter is the most important thing to do to ensure your furnace’s longevity and performance. One of the biggest culprits behind equipment issues are dirty filters, which can:

  • Restrict airflow, putting additional strain on the fan motor that, after time, can make your motor burn out, your system overheats, your heat exchanger crack, or your equipment fail
  • Reduce comfort by affecting the system’s ability to heat your home
  • Reduce efficiency causing an increase in your utility bills
  • Drastically reduce your indoor air quality, which can aggravate allergies, asthma and other illnesses

Manufacturers typically recommend that furnace filters be changed every three months. Homes with smokers, pets, or situations that let more dust indoors will likely need to change their filters more regularly than other households.

Duct cleaning?

Since your furnace has air filters that keep dust away from your heat exchanger and reduce dust from entering your ducts and blowing back into your house, you may not need regular duct cleaning. The strong exception to this is if you see mold, insects/rodents or excessive dust coming from your vents; if you do, then a duct cleaning is in order.

Be sure to hire a competent contractor if you decide to clean your ducts, and make sure they guarantee that their equipment won’t damage your ductwork.

Your service professional also will be able to inform you as your system nears the end of its useful life. That way, you can be in control and replace your equipment at your convenience, instead of having to make a crisis replacement.

— Dirk