“My question about furnace tune-ups. Your industry says to get one done every year – but is that really needed? What do the Furnace guys actually do to the furnace to ‘tune’ it up? Its not like a car tune-up, and my understanding is they basically use a vacuum to clean out dust and then give some sort of inspect on it. Could’t the homeowner do this himself? Or do I really need to pay someone every year ?”
This is a great questions worthy of a great response.
Are annual furnace inspections really necessary?
All Furnace manufacturers all recommend annual inspections and maintenance by a qualified technician. They also have verbiage in their warranties saying that damage to the units caused by improper maintenance is not covered under the warranty.
But does this mean that an annual furnace checkup is really required, and if not will the warranty is voided?
The best way to answer that is you will loose some of your warranty protection but not all of it.
If your furnace breaks down and its caused by poor conditions such as dirty motor that has seized or perhaps a small water leak that was not noticed over time, then you will not have any coverage of warranty or at least it will be denied based on improper maintenance or lack of maintenance on your furnace. There is an expectation from the manufacture that you need to keep you equipment in proper operating conditions. Its similar to your car if you never change the oil after 3 years your motor seizes its very unlikely they will cover your costs to repair your car under warranty.
What does a Heating technician actually do to the furnace to “tune it up “?
It really can depend.
The service you get when you purchase a $29 Groupon deal is going to be quite different from a $100.00 tune-up.
The important thing to remember is that the technician in your home gets paid by the hour so the less your paying him the less time he is likely to spend in your home.
It may seem like your getting the same work done on paper but the differences can be more then you were willing to risk.
A safety inspection can mean you quickly look at the safety component to make sure there are not signs of visual damage . ( This is what you can expect from a Group on Deal)
A proper safety inspection means the component is visually inspected for any abnormal signs then it is electrically tested to ensure its proper stand by operation then its is tested in a simulated failure to see if the component is working as it should. ( This kind of testing will cost more money as it will take more time.
What should be done during maintenance is listed below.
•The vent system needs to be checked for blockage and/or leakage. This includes the outside and the connections at and internal to the furnace.
•Combustion gases must be analyzed and compared to the unit specifications. ( this requires special equipment to be used)
•The blower access door needs to be checked to make sure it makes a tight seal at the furnace.
•The fresh air intake grills and louvers need to be checked for blockage.
•The heat exchanger needs to be inspected for rust and corrosion.
•The burners need to be checked for proper ignition, burner flame and flame sense.
•The drainage system needs to be checked The condensate drain needs to be inspected and tested
•The blower wheel needs to be checked for debris and cleaned every year (this requires complete removal of the blower wheel).
•An amp-draw test should be conducted on the blower motor and compared with what is listed.
•The wiring needs to be checked for corrosion and damage.
•The filters need to be checked (but this needs to be done much more frequently than annually).
This is really just the minimum that needs to be done on a furnace and a good reputable company will have many more tests to be done.
Could the homeowner do this on there own?
Sure anyone could do it on there own but to do it properly you need to have the right equipment to test everthing. This would include all the hand tools needed plus an electrical voltage metre an amperage meter a carbon monoxide tester a Gas pressure tester just to name a few.
If you had all of this equipment you would be more then able to clean your own furnace but the likely hood that you have all this equipment means that you already are a gas fitter.
Do I really need to pay every year for a professional to do it?
In short, yes. . Keep in mind, this isn't’t just about safety, it’s also about preventive maintenance. It’s about sometimes catching a problem before your furnace quits working in the middle of the night.
One thing that is for sure is the cost for a repair in the middle of the night is about 5 times more then if you had your furnace cleaned and were covered by the full manufactures warranty.
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