Whether you do it or have someone hired to do it, furnace maintenance is something that needs to be done. Now is the time to schedule a pre-season maintenance for your gas furnace in preparation for the winter ahead.
Ideally at the end of last season you properly “put to bed” the heating system. Insure that power is shut off at the electrical breaker and the gas shut off and thoroughly clean all dust and debris from the base of the furnace as well as around the burners. Use care to not damage the thermocouple or other sensitive parts of the furnace. At the beginning of the season start with a new air filter, which should be changed regularly as needed during the heavy season. A good way to remember is to do it the first of every month and you’ll never have to remember “when WAS that done?!”
There’s a belt that drives the blower which you should inspect for wear and tear. Ideally this is done at the end of the season so there is plenty of time to get a replacement belt. Check the tension of the belt – it should be taut with less than ½ to ¾ inch deflection when pushing on it. If needed tighten this to insure trouble free, efficient operation.
Gas furnace maintenance also includes lubrication of the oil bearings if it’s an older motor. A light oiling, just a few drops, helps keep everything operating smoothly. Replace the furnace cover and turn the gas and power on, firing it up to make sure all is running smoothly.
Double check the venting of the furnace – this is important as it carries deadly carbon monoxide from the home. A dirty furnace produces higher levels of this odorless, colorless gas that kills too many people each year. Don’t let it take a loved one in your home!
Check the color of the flame on the pilot – it should be a sharp blue base that is burning clean. A yellow flame indicates problems, which could be a dirty burner that keeps the air and gas from mixing properly. If there’s a dusty smell for a short period it could be simply combustion chamber is dusty. Another problem with a gas furnace can be backdrafting – air comes in through the chimney and chokes off the venting needed. If you’re not sure about doing the work yourself hire it done.
The important thing is to invest in gas furnace maintenance. Keep it maintained for safety!