A recent blog post about fall maintenance recommended that you get a qualified heating contractor to inspect or tune up your furnace annually. This saw a reader sending an email asking whether this was really necessary. Here is what he sought to find out about furnace tune-ups:
Is it really necessary to get a furnace tune-up once every year? What does a professional HVAC tune-up actually entail? As opposed to a car tune-up that involves changing spark plugs, it is my understanding that a furnace tune-up is all about inspecting it and getting rid of dust. Can’t homeowners do this task on their own? Is there really need to pay a professional $80 – $150 every year to get this job done?
With the important issues raised, it is important to look at these great questions in a much deeper way.
Are annual furnace inspections really necessary?
All manufacturers recommend not only that you have scheduled furnace inspection but also service your furnace annually. Manufacturers also advise that you get a qualified technician to do the job. Some of them actually include phrases in their warranties to the effect that any damage to the units that will be occasioned by improper maintenance will not be covered under warranty. Does this mean that the warranty will be voided if the necessary furnace check-up is not done as recommended? While this is not the case, an annual check-up is recommended in Coquitlam. Such a check-up can be compared to visiting your dentist after every six months for a check-up and cleaning, a move that is not necessary but recommended by experts.
According to most HVAC contractors, newer furnaces should be checked every other year, with those older than ten years being inspected annually.
What do HVAC technicians actually do to the furnace to “tune” it up?
The answer to this question depends on several things. Chris Jirak, a heating expert with over 25 years’ experience in the industry, says that what a $29 Groupon deal offers you is different from what you get from a $200 “tune-up.” Jirak added that every contractor with whom he worked had different ways to describe furnace inspection and tune-up. This makes it difficult to make a comparison between services offered by any two heating companies. Some of the words that companies commonly use include “tune-up,” “certification,” “safety check,” “complete tune-up,” “basic tune-up” and “annual maintenance check-up.”
Since there is no industry standard to define a furnace or boiler tune-up, what you get varies widely from company to company. This is why you should inquire from a heating contractor what their tune-up involves before hiring them. Here is a summary of what furnace manufacturers recommend should be done by a heating technician during furnace inspection, service and maintenance:
• Checking the vent system for any blockage or leakage. This covers the outside termination as well as the connections around and inside the furnace.
• Analysing combustion gases and ensuring they are in line with the furnace specifications.
• Ensuring that the blower access door makes a tight seal
• Inspecting the grills and louvers for a blockage that could restrict air intake
• Inspecting the heat exchanger for rust and corrosion
• Establishing whether the burner functions properly by checking ignition, flame sense and burner flame
• Checking for blockage and leakage in the drainage system. This involves inspecting the hoses inside the furnace, cleaning the condensate drain and tap as well as replacing the water in the tap
• Checking for and cleaning any debris in the blower wheel. This requires that the blower wheel is completely removed
• Conducting an amp-draw test on the blower motor to compare with what is listed
• Inspecting the wiring for corrosion and damage
• Although it should be done more frequently, the filters should also be checked
Most heating contractors will also conduct gas pressure testing, static air pressure checks, and temperature rise checks.
Could the homeowner do this?
The only people who have enough expertise and experience to handle all the tasks listed above are heating contractors. However, you can do simple tasks such as sucking dust out of the furnace using a vacuum nozzle. If the furnace technician does about half of the things mentioned in the deal, then you are getting a good deal.
Before hiring a company to service your furnace in Coquitlam, it is important to what the service will include. The company should be in a position to readily list what they intend to do.
Do I really need to pay $80-$150 every year for a professional to do it?
Yes. Some professionals could actually charge more since in most cases $80 will not even cater for the trip charge. Paying these charges is about promoting safety and ensuring preventative maintenance. The professional will detect and correct small problems before they become bigger and more expensive. In any case, hiring a contractor to repair your furnace on a Sunday evening will see you incur emergency charges.
Thanks to Furnace Repair & Installation in Port Coquitlam | Burke Mountain Plumbing for this post on maintaining your furnace in Coquitlam, BC. For expert advice, don’t fret to contact them today!:
Burke Mountain Plumbing and Heating
2975 Princess Crescent, Coquitlam, BC V3B 7N3