Keeping your home warm costs more than any other system in your home. On average, it makes up around 42 percent of your utilities. With winter predictions of colder than average in the North and East, are you and your furnace ready?
Have you had a heating inspection lately? Let’s take a look at how often you should service your furnace and why.
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Annual Heating Inspection
Furnace manufacturers recommend that a qualified technician should inspect and maintain furnaces annually. Most warranties state that damage caused by improper maintenance will not be covered under the warranty.
Some contractors say you can get newer furnaces checked every other year. If your furnace is more than 10 years old, they recommend every year.
Benefits of an Inspection
If you don’t service your furnace, it can stop working suddenly and leave your house cold. HVAC experts say that about 75 percent of no-heat calls are because of a lack of regular maintenance.
Furnaces can also pose a health hazard. Technicians can find carbon monoxide leaks, which are hard to identify because the gas is odorless and colorless.
Carbon monoxide can lead to dizziness, nausea, headaches, or even death. Around 435 people die each year from carbon dioxide exposure, and 50,000 people visit the ER with carbon monoxide poisoning.
An inspection can find if there is something wrong with your furnace. A small issue can turn into a big issue if it is not addressed immediately. If your furnace is working harder than it should, it can increase your bills.
Other benefits of an annual inspection include:
- Reduce the chance of a breakdown
- Increase dependability
- Prolong the life-span
- Fix any problems quickly
- Maintain a safe, efficient operation
- Lower energy cost with the proper function
- Protect the environment by fixing any issues
A service plan may also help with future discounts, increased warranty, and scheduling priorities. Make sure you keep all these records because furnace manufacturers may require records of regular maintenance if you have a warranty claim.
Regular service can also save you money in the long run. In addition to catching a problem early, experts say regular energy audits can save you anywhere from 5 to 30 percent on your bills.
What Does an Inspection Include?
It depends on the level of service you choose. Different companies offer different services and there is no standard for a tune-up.
When you hire a professional, make sure you get a list or ask what services are included in your price. Here are some different actions recommended by furnace manufacturers for yearly maintenance.
- Check the wiring for damage and corrosion
- Check for blocks or leakage in the vent system
- Inspect heat exchanger
- Look for blockage on the fresh air intake grills
- Ensure there is a tight seal on the blower access door
- Analyze combustion gases to ensure they meet unit specifications
- Look for debris in the blower wheel.
- Ensure the burners are igniting properly
- Inspect the drainage system for any leaks or blocks including internal hoses
- Look at furnace filters and change if necessary
- Lubricate moving parts
- Check the system start-up and shutdown
Most of these things you shouldn’t do yourself. You can change your furnace filters. Check your furnace’s manual for recommendations on how often you should change it.
How Much Does Service Cost?
An average furnace service check-up averages between $60 to $85. They will also clean your system to improve efficiency, which will also save money. This is an average cost, and some companies charge a flat service fee for inspection only.
You can also talk to the company about getting annual inspections on both your air conditioning and furnace. They may offer a package or a discount. Your air conditioning is just as important on those hot days.
Hiring a Professional
You should let a professional perform all the maintenance. Most homeowners are not knowledgeable to complete all the tasks listed above. HVAC systems can be complex, and most states have licensing requirements.
Find out what is included in your heating inspection. The company should give you a list and be able to do so quickly. Make sure you also check out reviews and ask about licensing when you are looking for a reputable company.
Remember this inspection is not just about safety; you are also performing preventive maintenance. You can’t control when you will have furnace issues, so you may have to pay a higher rate for an emergency visit on the weekend.
You can do a few things to keep your furnace running smoothly like changing the air filter regularly as we mentioned. You should change at least every 3 months or follow your furnace manufacturer’s recommendation. A clogged air filter restricts airflow, which can make your furnace work harder or even add allergens back into the air.
Keep Warm This Winter
You should not skip a heating inspection because you don’t want to pay for a service. In the scheme of things, this is a pretty minimal fee. You can help prevent a larger issue down the road and keep your warranty in place.
There are other ways you can save money. Try using a programmable thermostat and turn down the furnace about 7 to 8 degrees for 8 hours a day, either at night or when you are at work.
Make sure your house is sealed. Check around windows and doors to ensure no air is coming in. If you feel a draft, make sure you caulk or add weather stripping. You should also close the damper on your fireplace when you are not using it to avoid the warm air escaping and prevent cold air from coming in.
Open up the curtains on the south and west-facing windows to let the sunshine in. The sun will help warm up your home. Make sure you close these curtains at night to keep the heat from getting out.
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