For many homeowners, their heating system is out of sight and out of mind – until it breaks down at an inconvenient time. For Idaho homeowners in Nampa and the Treasure Valley, the true cold season tends to begin in early November and lasts until mid-February. The average temperature in Nampa during these months is around 30 degrees, sometimes dipping below 20 degrees. With consistently cold temperatures, your furnace works much harder every year than it would in other more temperate states.
A heating system in need of repair in the middle of winter is uncomfortable and can become extremely expensive if you must leave the home to stay in a hotel until it’s fixed. Although regular maintenance of your heating and cooling system may not feel like a top priority in the summer months, we are quickly heading into winter, and it’s probably time to give your heating system a once-over. Here, we cover what exactly furnace maintenance is and how it benefits you.
What is furnace maintenance?
Furnace maintenance involves a professional thoroughly inspecting your system and tuning it up as needed. Although this may seem simple, there are a lot of moving parts that make your heating system work, and they all need to be functioning correctly to keep your home heated.
Furnace maintenance includes, but is not limited to, the following:
- Full inspection of your furnace and duct system to get a close look at all the parts and ensure they are operating properly. This includes clearing any blockages in the vent system, air intakes, and blower. Your technician will check the heat exchangers, belts, and electrical connections for damage and unusual wear and tear.
- Lubrication of all moving parts in your system to eliminate any friction that is slowing down your system and creating unnecessary strain.
- Inspection of the burner and flame sensor. If your flame sensor is damaged or isn’t working as it should be, it can cause the furnace to light and shut down repeatedly. This puts extra strain on your system and will not properly heat your home.
- Inspection of the thermostat and calibration as needed.
- If you have an oil or gas burner, your technician will check and test the gas pressure, burner, and pilot. Fuel lines will be examined to check for potential leaks or problem areas.
- Replacement or cleaning of filters.
- Testing of the system once the maintenance is complete to ensure that it is running smoothly.
How often should a furnace be serviced?
In Idaho, your heating system works hard through the winter to heat your home. It’s recommended that you service your system at least once a year before you start using it regularly. In Nampa, Boise, and the rest of the Treasure Valley, although the cold season technically begins in November, evening temperatures usually start dropping below 50 by September. You’ll probably start using your heater more often around this time, and it’s important to keep this in mind when scheduling your system’s maintenance.
What maintenance should you do?
There are a few things you can do to extend the life of your system and prevent breakdowns in between maintenance appointments. Although the following will be done during the maintenance of your system, some of these steps should be taken more than just once a year.
Regularly replace the filter.
This is one of the easiest and most beneficial things a homeowner can do to elongate the life of their furnace. The owner’s manual will tell you what size of filter you need. If you don’t have access to the owner’s manual, you can look up the furnace’s model number, usually listed on the side of the unit. If you’re having a hard time finding your furnace’s specifications, give us a call and we can help!
Regularly replacing your filter has numerous benefits. The furnace doesn’t have to work as hard to move air past a clean filter, increasing efficiency and airflow. Over time, this efficiency will save you costs in your energy bill.
Inspect your furnace now and then.
If you check your furnace and notice a smell like rotten eggs, please immediately contact your utility company or call 911 and leave the home. This can indicate a gas leak and is extremely dangerous.
Checking in on your furnace routinely will give you a better idea of when something isn’t quite working right. Listen for unusual sounds. If you aren’t sure if your system is supposed to be making a certain noise, call a professional for some guidance.
Check the thermostat’s battery.
This can be one of the simplest fixes for a malfunctioning heating system. If your system isn’t responding like it usually does, try switching out the thermostat’s battery.
Maintaining your furnace will save you money and prevent hassle.
The goal of maintaining your furnace is to keep it running as efficiently as possible. This benefits you in a few ways. First, an efficient furnace will use less energy. Over time, small inefficiencies such as blocked airflow or friction within the system will add up, and you may not notice your energy bill creeping up. Next, maintenance allows your technician to catch minor issues early, taking care of them before they become serious and expensive.
Missing a year or two of maintenance might not seem like a big deal, and it may not result in a total collapse of your system. However, it comes with risks. Many furnace warranties include terms that require regular maintenance. If you don’t keep up with maintenance, you may be voiding the warranty and could be on the hook for expenses should the system break down during the warranty period.
Ultimately, a well-maintained furnace has an extended lifespan, and will have longer periods of time in between needing repairs. Even if your furnace has been functioning properly for the last few winters, giving it an annual tune-up can help ensure your comfort and safety for many winters to come.