In order for your gas furnace to last as long as it possibly can, you will need to have it serviced from time to time. Taking it apart every month to have it cleaned out may just lead to wear and tear as well so you should consult your manufacturers manual on how often your gas furnace should be serviced.
There are a few basics things that you as the owner can do to service your unit, but be wary of which of these things may affect the warranty on your unit. There may just come a time when you will need to call in the accredited professionals to do the work for you so that you know it is done properly and that you will still retain your warranty from the manufacturer.
How to Service Your Gas Furnace Yourself
Just like servicing your car, there are a few things that you can do yourself to prolong the life of your gas furnace, but as soon as it comes to the more intricate parts, you would need to call in the professionals.
You will need to take the unit apart slightly to get to the oiling ports of your furnace if it has oiling ports. If not, then the unit will be sealed off and self-lubricating. You can use high quality electrical motor oil on your furnace, but only once every 5 years or so to ensure that the motor is not oiled too much.
Make sure that the area around your furnace is relatively dust free. Although the furnace does have an air filter, you will help that filter to last a lot longer by keeping as much dust and dirt away from it as possible.
You can change the air-filters by yourself, but you will need to consult your manufacturer’s manual on where you will find the filter and which filter to replace it with. Some units have plastic filters which can be cleaned with a vacuum cleaner before rinsing off in soapy water and being air-dried. The paper and cardboard filters, however, will need to be replaced as there is no way of cleaning these properly without damaging them. Although some think that you can rinse them off in petroleum and then air-dried, you should not even considering this method as you will be placing the health of you and your family in danger by doing this. The proximity of flame and gas to the filter makes it too dangerous to soak the paper or cardboard in flammable liquid.
How Often Can You Service Your Gas Furnace
It is always a good idea to have your furnace serviced at a set time each year. This way you know that you will not forget to service your furnace or to have it furnace. Make a standing order with your technician if you have to, but do not skip a single opportunity to service your furnace. Go through all of the parts as well as the ducts, the outlets and the furnace vents to make sure that you have no blockages and that there are no leaks either. If you do not feel comfortable with checking through all the pipes and fittings, then you can do the basics and leave the rest to the professionals.
The basics will include things such as checking the filters, the strength of the pilot flame and the vents to your home for blockages. This will already save you the labor costs of the technician checking these things for you when they are doing the service. If you do a minor service each year then you can do a major service every 5 years where every inch of the motor and all the pipes and ducts can be checked to make sure everything is in top condition. Pilot flame nozzles can be cleared out to ensure that there is nothing blocking the flow of the gas.
Any type of furnace will probably not last for longer than 20 years so it is a good idea to keep track of all the services you have done on your unit so that you will know when the time comes to replace the unit and that you are sure that you have done everything possible to extend the life of your gas furnace.
Poor Maintenance and Your Health
Carbon Monoxide is given off by your furnace if your furnace is not heating properly. Any leaks on your furnace can lead to this potentially lethal gas to siphon into your home. This gas is odorless so you will not be able to tell that you have a problem until it is much too late. The only way to prevent this problem is to have a professional look over your system including the pipes to check for leaks. As an extra precautionary measure you can have carbon monoxide detectors fitted to your home so that you are aware when you have a problem to have it sorted out.
It is very important to check for gas leaks on a regular basis as any small spark could ignite the gas in the air and lead to an explosion. Although natural gas is one of the safer ways to heat your home, it still comes with precautionary measures that you need to abide by.
Gas furnaces give off heat and being installed mostly in garages, it is not uncommon for the heat to ignite flammable materials that have been stored too closely to the furnace. Make sure that all flammable liquids and substances are stored very far away from your furnace. Even if the liquid does not ignite, the chances are also great that the heat from the furnace will lead to the chemicals evaporating and entering the airstream into your home. The fumes from these chemicals can make you very sick and can even lead to death.
When to Call In the Professionals
It stands to reason that we all would like to do as much as our housework ourselves, if we are inclined to do any do-it-yourself work, even if it is just to save a few dollars per month.
There does come a time and place when you need to call in the professionals. When you need to have a major service on your furnace, then it will be better to have a technician look over your heating system with a fine toothed comb from back to front. This will include checking for any leaks and any poor performing parts on your machine that you may not be aware of. The furnace technicians will also know exactly what to do and what to use to unclog parts that may have a build up from the natural gas that flows through the system at a regular pace each day.
When your thermostat is faulty, you may want a technician to look at that as well because it is computerized and some of the settings require a specific computer program to reset. If the heating is not correct in your home, you can start by checking the thermostat and to make sure it is set at the correct temperature but other than that, it is never a good idea to change any other settings.
The motor of the furnace should be serviced once a year as well, but this is definitely not a task to attempt by you. Because the motor is so integral to the workings of the unit and because it can be so intricate, it will be better to have someone approved by your manufacturer to take care of this part of your machine.
What Would Happen if Not Serviced
Dirt in your gas furnace will cause your furnace to produce a higher level of carbon monoxide. Usually only a little bit of this gas is produced and is then led outside to the outlets, but if your outlets are clogged this gas will then start to lead into your ducts and into your home. When your furnace itself is not clean inside, the furnace automatically starts to produce more carbon monoxide.
When your furnace does not run properly you may also have to spend more money on heating costs because your unit will not be able to detect when to switch on and when to switch off. If your unit is overheating, it will detect the heat from the unit and switch off and then switch on again once the unit is cool instead of detecting the internal temperature of your home. This will use a lot more fuel and you may start spending as much as twice your usual spend on fuel.
The efficiency of your unit also goes down marginally if your vents and ducts are dirty or blocked because the heat that is meant for your home will not reach your home in a slow steady flow as it should.
Servicing your gas furnace will not cost you as much as your furnace will cost you in the long run if you do not have it serviced properly and regularly.