Did you have a technician inspect and tune up your furnace this year? For a lot of us, the answer is, “No.” As long as we change the air filter, everything should be OK, right? “Not so fast,” say the experts. They recommend an annual inspection by a qualified HVAC technician. Still, you may be wondering why.

The HVAC system in your home, which includes your furnace, should be checked every year, especially if it is ten years or older. Replacing air filter the regularly is a good start, but that’s all it is—a start. Think about it. During the warm months, your furnace has sat idle, collecting dust. Imagine not dusting your furniture for year or more. Finally, the day comes when you have to fire up the furnace, and all that dust goes up in flame. It may smell like something is burning and it is uncomfortable when you breathe.

It’s Just Dust, Right?

Dust in a furnace is not just about the bad smell, it cuts down on furnace efficiency and translates into higher heating costs in the winter. One sign that the burners in your furnace are loaded with dust is an orange-red flame. In an efficient furnace, white and blue flames indicate that you are getting really good, clean heat. Too much dust build up on motors and bearings can stop the furnace from functioning altogether and result in high repair or replacement costs.

Dust is not the only concern. A poorly maintained gas furnace can put everyone in the house at risk for carbon monoxide poisoning. Carbon monoxide is a colorless and odorless gas that is a by-product of the combustion process. Newer furnaces are designed to push this poisonous gas out through the vents. New furnaces will also shut down if carbon monoxide is detected. Older furnaces can develop small cracks in the combustion engine that allow carbon monoxide to escape and do not have any safety features, such as shut down.

You Get What You Pay For

Cleaning and maintaining a furnace is not a simple task for the ordinary homeowner. A qualified, professional HVAC technician does much more than vacuum dust out of your furnace. That $29 furnace tune up deal is not the same as a $150 annual maintenance.

Homeowners should ask what type of tune-up they are getting when they hire a contractor. That tune-up should include these basic tasks and much more:

  • Check the vent system
  • Vacuum the burner
  • Check the combustion gases
  • Check to make sure there isn’t any corrosion or rust
  • Look at the burner flames
  • Inspect the wiring
  • Clean the blower blades
  • Clean the sensor
  • If necessary, lubricate the bearings
  • Check the fresh air intake louvers