All about – Furnace service, costs, furnace service plans
Welcome to heating season! That means it’s time to make sure your equipment is working to its maximum potential. For the most part, natural gas fuel furnaces are a reliable heat source. Regular maintenance of a gas fuel furnace is a function of efficiency no matter what its age. A properly tuned furnace is good for the environment and will save you money on your heating bill. In some cases all that is required for optimum efficiency is a simple adjustment of the fuel mixture to make all of the difference.
Natural gas furnaces are usually easily maintained and trouble free. There are some simple aspects of furnace upkeep that you can do yourself but my advice is best to leave the servicing of your furnace to the professionals. Spending a few dollars on a technician can save you money on your heating costs and can help avoid expensive repairs in the future.
Unfortunately when I’m in the field, I have found that many people do not service their furnaces regularly. In some cases I wonder if the furnace has ever been serviced. Resist the temptation to service yourself. Unless you are a heating technician, you will not likely detect problems in your system with great accuracy.
Service your furnace for health and safety
Your gas fuelled furnace produces carbon monoxide. Normally gas furnaces are vented outside and exhaust properly, but if there is a leak because of poor installation or maintenance, tragedy is looming. Maintaining, inspecting and repairing your appliances are a must-do priority. Between servicing, your only source of protection is a CSA approved carbon monoxide detector.
Keep in mind that your priority should be to maintain your fossil burning appliances in top condition first, and then use CO detectors as a back-up device. If you don’t have a CO detector then you are not protected. Simple as that.
Furnace service and heat exchangers
The number one reason for furnace failure is age. A furnace will cycle on and off thousands of times over its service life. That means that the interior parts will go from being cold to very hot. The temperature changes in furnaces are rapid and cause the metals to expand and contract. This expansion and contraction wears the heat exchanger out making it brittle and eventually the metal of the heat exchanger cracks. The crack cannot be welded or repaired.
The constant supplies of acidic gases from the furnace along with a continuous supply of moisture eat away at the metals inside of your furnace. They can cause rusted through sections that can allow the products of combustion into the air that you and your family breathe.
What is included in a furnace service?
A professional furnace tune-up should include checking and cleaning all the major parts of the furnace, adjusting the pilot and burner if needed, inspecting and replacing filters if needed; lubricating all motors (although newer models may be self-lubricating) and performing a combustion efficiency test.
In my books dirt and dust is the biggest enemy of your furnace. Dirt affects all components in the furnace so you can expect that a professional cleaning is one of the most important parts of a furnace service. Accumulations of dust can waste fuel, lower efficiency and in some cases cause overheating. The cheapest way to protect your furnace from dust and dirt accumulations is to change the filter frequently.
Furnace service cost
Having your furnace serviced is an opportunity to get to know your furnace technician and your furnace. A good technician will give you the low down on the state of affairs with your equipment. There really is little cost to furnace maintenance; it’s more of an investment in your appliance. Besides enjoying optimum efficiency as a result of having your furnace serviced, expect to enjoy longer reliable service life.
A regular furnace service call by a qualified HVAC technician usually falls in the $90 to $120 range. For that, your technician should thoroughly clean and inspect your furnace as well as evaluate and adjust its efficiency. A routine service call usually takes about an hour. As you can see, a furnace service is not expensive and doesn’t take too long.
There is great value in these low cost evaluations. If you take a hard look at it, one wonders why a technician will come all the way to your house and perform all of this work economically. The answer is that it gives them an introduction to their company and an opportunity to place a sticker on your equipment. In the event that you have a breakdown, they’re hoping that you will call them first.
In the event that the technician finds a repairable item during your furnace service, it’s best to know now rather than during a time when you have a high demand for heat. Correcting a problem immediately can be better than when it’s too late and when the problem gets worse and costs much more. In some cases it might be best to leave the maintenance of your furnace to a yearly service plan.
Furnace service plans
Most HVAC specialists offer basic service packages that cover some of the cost of repairs and the cost of regular inspections. There is always fine print with all service contracts, read the fine print and ask questions. Not all service plans are the same.
Remember, annual maintenance is recommended by manufacturers, however experts say a furnace that is less than 10 years old doesn’t need annual maintenance. In my books, a furnace can stop working at any time, so if your furnace is under 10 years or still under warranty, get to know what it the warranty offer and compare it to a service plan. Newer high efficiency furnaces need service every year. They produce condensation and that drainage system needs to be inspected and cleaned.
Furnace service plans generally provide for an annual diagnostic and maintenance check whether they render findings or not. In some cases the service is offered in installments and being on a plan means the basic service is often offered cheaper.
If you decide that a furnace service plan is for you, take the time to understand what’s covered to save disappointment. Never feel pressured to sign something right away.
Tips to keep your furnace operating at its best
- Change your furnace filter often
- Have your furnace maintained yearly before each heating season
- Understand your furnace warranty, what it covers and for how long
- Don’t feel pressured into entering a service cost if it doesn’t make sense.
- Have the name reliable expert furnace contractor should you need one
- Call the experts when you experience a furnace malfunction and don’t try to fix it yourself