This summer’s heat in Boston has been intense, to say the least, but that doesn’t mean it’s a good idea to put off furnace maintenance. As hard as it is to believe, we’re less than two months away from the start of the heating season, so now is a good time to start thinking about furnace maintenance and furnace inspections in Boston.
Regardless of what type of heating plant you have in your home, inspecting the system while the weather is still warm is a great idea. If a major problem is found, you’ll have time to get second opinions, make careful decisions and plan how to pay for the repairs. This entry will concentrate on gas forced-air furnaces, but I’ll also cover other heating systems (like hot water and steam boilers) in my next posts.
Gas forced air (GFA) furnaces should be inspected yearly for signs of mechanical wear and damage to the heat exchanger. High efficiency furnaces are especially vulnerable to problems like cracks forming in the heat exchanger. A cracked heat exchanger can cause carbon monoxide (CO) to seep into the home, placing everyone in the home at serious risk of illness or even death.
A basic furnace safety inspection should include an evaluation of the furnace’s heat exchanger for signs of damage. This is one repair that cannot be put off. Do not use your furnace if an inspection reveals a cracked or broken heat exchanger. The safety inspection should also include an inspection of the chimney for signs of debris or fouling. Debris should be removed because it will impede the release of CO from your gas appliances. Finally, the safety inspection should include an evaluation of the piping and shut-off valves that control the gas flow to the furnace.
The pilot light (if your furnace has one) and the thermocouple should be inspected and cleaned if needed. The thermostat operation should be verified. (If you have an old mercury-based thermostat, now would be a great time to consider upgrading to a programmable one.) The burners on the furnace should be checked, cleaned (if needed) and set properly for ignition and combustion.
The motor, fan and blower should be cleaned, checked and adjusted, and all belts should be inspected for wear. Finally, the filter should be replaced. As a tip, stock up on filters and replace them monthly. Clean filters will improve the efficiency of the furnace by keeping the mechanicals clean, and will improve the air quality in your home.
Boston Standard Plumbing & Heating can assist with furnace inspections and repairs of all kinds. If you would like more information about our inspection and maintenance services, or would like to schedule an inspection, please contact us at (617) 288-2911.