Your Home: Furnace Maintenance Tips

By David Glenn

Furnaces are often uncomplicated and relatively easy to keep up. The purpose of systematic maintenance is effective operation. Whatever kind of furnace that is heating the house, there are several steps to take to preserve the heating in prime operating condition.

Three Components of Heating System

When a heating system does not work correctly, one of the three workings, the source of heat, the circulation system or the thermostat, may be the cause of the problem. IF the furnace will not run, the issue is most likely at the heat source. Possible causes could include loss of power, fuel not reaching the unit or failure of the oil or gas to ignite. If the furnace does turn on, but the warmed air does not spread to the rooms, the difficulty could be in the blower. A defective thermostat will stop the heating system from turning on or could make the furnace turn on and off.

Initial Steps to Furnace Maintenance
There are initial steps to take to work on a furnace. Be certain that the heating unit is receiving power by checking for fuses that are blown or circuit breakers that are tripped at the main panel. Check the reset button which is close to the motor housing. If the motor has been running, wait 30 minutes for the motor to cool down and then press the button one time. If the unit doesn’t start this time, wait another 30 minutes and press the reset button again. Try one more time if necessary. If the furnace has a different power switch, turn the switch on. Set the thermostat at the proper temperature. If the furnace is powered by gas, inspect the gas source to be certain it is turned on and the pilot light is burning. Double check for a sufficient supply of oil.

Safety Features When Working on Heating System
Several safety factors should be considered before working on the furnace. Turn off all power to the heating unit before working on it. At the main electrical panel, remove the fuse that regulates the furnace or trip the circuit breaker. Another alternative is to take out the main fuse or trip the circuit breaker for the power for the entire house. If the circuit trips or the fuse blows continuously when the furnace is turned on, then the problem exists in the house’s electrical system. This issue should be repaired by a professional electrician.

Maintaining a Clean Furnace
If the furnace is dirty, the heating system will run less efficiently and waste fuel. Dirt can reduce the efficiency of all three workings of the system, so cleaning is a significant part of system maintenance. Belt adjustment and lubrication are important steps.

Precautions with a Gas Furnace
If the furnace has a gas power source, and gas can be smelled in the home, the home owner should not turn off the gas and should not use any lights. The first step is to call the gas company and leave the doors open.

Annual Professional Furnace Check
To maintain the heating system in top condition, the furnace should be serviced by a professional once a year. The end of the heating season is the best time to get the furnace maintained. This is the least-busy season for service professionals, so it is possible for the homeowner to get a discount. Service is more likely to be completed more rapidly.

Warranty for Heating System

Another step to take is to purchase an extended home warranty when purchasing the furnace or when arranging to have the furnace serviced. The furnace will be serviced on a regular basis with parts being guaranteed.

No matter what kind of heating system a house has, the homeowner must not wait until the furnace stops working before calling for maintenance. If a heating system is kept up, the homeowner will save cost on fuel and lengthen the life of the furnace. Routine maintenance is inexpensive compared to the cost of installing a new furnace.

David Glenn is a home improvement expert. He freelance writes about home maintenance and DIY home repair. He's also knowledgeable about topics like how to improve social presence and building a reputation online.

Reprinted with permission from RISMedia. ©2014. All rights reserved.

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