As with all things, an ounce of prevention is worth a couple tons of cure. After a long spring and summer of sitting little or even unused altogether, your furnace needs some attention before the long winter comes. This can vary from model to model, but in general, you can expect your HVAC Professional to do a lot of cleaning and even some replacing.
The Big Cleanout
Nearly every fuel-burning heating system is going to produce some sort of soot or ash from running. Modern heating systems are incredibly efficient, but they’ll still produce a bit of waste material. This waste can be combustion byproducts, contaminants left behind in the fuel, or in some cases even microscopic particles of other components of the furnace itself, such as particles from a spark rod.
This build up will cause a number of issues over time:
- Inefficiency, the soot will absorb heat, requiring more fuel than normal to reach the same temperature changes.
- Dirty emissions, by exhausting the soot out into the open air, a potential health and legal hazard.
- System failure, by clogging up the burner or otherwise preventing the furnace itself from running.
The general process of cleaning up the furnace is straight forward. Your contractor will remove some parts of the case to get into the combustion chamber and use a vacuum to collect the soot. Depending on how much soot there is, it may be necessary to replace other parts of the system, for example if it were burning too rich or too lean from an impending failure in the burner or fuel regulation.
There are a number of things that will wear down over time. Before you really NEED your furnace, it’s good to inspect it for wear and tear. Things such as fuel filters, burners, belts, and ignition systems will fail over time. These should be monitored and replaced as needed. Most of these will have year to multi-year lifespans, so a check up in the spring and fall is usually all you need to keep things running smoothly.
For any of these repairs, it will cost a few hundred dollars. Belts are perhaps the cheapest thing to replace, but the labor costs ensure you’re still out at least a hundred dollars for the repair work. Other equipment such as ignition controls and fuel filters are easier to replace, but the parts are more complicated and therefore a bigger part of the repair cost.
There is however, one major repair you can always do yourself: CHANGE YOUR AIR FILTERS. Depending on the manufacturer’s specific ratings and the airflow in your system, filters will probably need to be changed once a month to perhaps up to once every three months. These are easy enough to replace, often designed to be user-replaceable with many tool-less filter holders in use throughout the industry.
Stay on Top of Your HVAC System
It’s essential to stay on top of your system and do these repairs now, while the weather is still warm enough that you’re not depending on your furnace. If there isn’t local stock for a replacement part, it will take a minimum of a day for it to get from us to you. There’s also the possibility that a part may be back-ordered and not be available, even to us, for weeks. Some parts of the furnace are nearly custom-made, and have significant lead time.
We have vast stocks of many, many furnace components and we have a vast network of vendors with stock for all the things not sitting in our warehouse, but there are times when there will have to be a delay. Stay ahead of the game, give your equipment a check up, and be ready for the fall and winter to come.