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Why Should You Regularly Maintain Your Furnace?

Technician performing maintenance on a furnace - Thomas & Galbraith Heating, Cooling, & Plumbing

Furnace maintenance benefits Cincinnati, Ohio area homeowners in more ways than one. The winters in Ohio reach freezing temperatures, so the furnace must work every single day throughout the season to keep homeowners comfortable. Without furnace maintenance, furnaces break down more and require more repairs, which means you miss out on a warm home.

Thomas & Galbraith wants your home to stay warm this winter with a well-cared for heating system. We discuss all the furnace maintenance benefits and cover some of the troublesome issues that arise in poorly maintained furnaces. Our HVAC technicians are specially trained in furnace repairs, so even when unexpected problems arise, you’re covered. However, make sure to schedule maintenance with us to reduce your risk of experiencing such issues over the winter.

How Does My Furnace Work?

Furnaces use a specific process to heat the air in your home. Homeowners are not always aware of the steps to heat the air, though knowing this information greatly expands their understanding of how things go wrong. Preventative furnace maintenance benefits are directly related to this process – knowing how the furnace operates helps homeowners understand the importance of regular service.

Gas-powered furnaces are most common in homes throughout the Cincinnati area. In a gas-powered furnace, the unit heats the air by burning gas and distributes warmed air through the home via vents and ducts. Indoor environmental temperatures, detected by the thermostat, determine when the furnace turns on according to your set points. The thermostat sends a message to the unit which lets it know when to start a heating cycle and when to stop. These temperatures are chosen by the homeowner.

Burners are ignited to burn gas heating fuel, which raises the temperature of the heat exchanger. Heat is absorbed by the surrounding air and then the blower motor and fan move the warmed air, distributing it through the home’s duct system and out vents into your living areas.

A furnace utilizes many different components to complete the heating process. If any piece of the furnace suffers from a malfunction—big or small— air is either not properly warmed or the warm air doesn’t flow into your home as it should. Professional service checks once a year ensures each part of the heating system works properly throughout the winter.

The Most Common Furnace Problems

Common furnace problems have the potential to plague homeowners in Ohio when winter rolls around, especially in unmaintained systems. Furnace maintenance benefits include eliminating preventable problems. These issues are more likely to occur when the furnace goes without maintenance – maintenance must occur so you get the most out of your furnace during the winter. 

  • Frequent cycles. Thermostats send a signal to the furnace when it needs to turn on and off. Problems with the thermostat or other furnace components cause the furnace to start and stop heating cycles more frequently than normal. This results in your furnace turning on and off too quickly, called short cycling, which means your home doesn’t receive as much warm air as you want. Short cycling also causes damage to critical heating system components and causes excessive energy consumption by the furnace, which results in higher heating costs.
  • Strange sounds. Like most appliances in the home, strange noises from the furnace indicate something is amiss in the system. Though these problems are sometimes minor—like an incorrectly positioned filter—they also stem from more complex issues. Either way, strange noises require the attention of an HVAC technician to get a proper diagnosis and a viable solution.
  • Yellow pilot light. A Cincinnati home with an older furnace may have a pilot light which constantly burns, ready to ignite fuel to start a heating cycle. A yellow or flickering pilot light indicates either a gas or carbon monoxide leak. These issues are dangerous and must be taken care of immediately. The safety of you and your family are at risk when this problem occurs. Preventative furnace maintenance benefits homeowners because it verifies the safety and proper operation of the pilot light. The pilot light must be constant and blue to be considered safe.
  • Dirty filters. Dirty filters are an easy fix, but when neglected they do impact the overall functionality of your furnace. IAQ, or indoor air quality, is negatively affected when filters go too long without a change – the dirty filter is incapable of removing airborne contaminants circulating through the heating system. Another serious issue caused by a dirty filter is airflow restriction. This not only prevents adequate heating indoors but burdens system components and results in breakdowns as well as higher energy consumption. During a service visit, the technician replaces the filters for you, though homeowners also need to change them throughout the year. 
  • Frayed blower belt. When the belt frays or slips, it produces a whining noise. HVAC technicians inspect the condition and position of belts during a service check. If belts in the furnace are frayed or displaced technicians replace or reposition them so the blower motor is able to function as it should. Homeowners experience furnace maintenance benefits when the belt is checked because a properly functioning blower motor is required to distribute warm air throughout a home. 
  • System control problems. Furnace controls not only regulate system operation, but they ensure safe operating conditions. A furnace maintenance tune up tests the functionality of all system controls. Problems are identified so adjustments can be made, allowing the system to perform optimally while promoting safety. 
  • Heat exchanger problems. Furnace maintenance benefits the whole system and your family because it keeps the heat exchanger in good condition. Cracks may occur in the heat exchanger over time, which allow dangerous combustion byproducts to back up into your home. – this is a potentially deadly problem due to the risk of carbon monoxide exposure. Additionally, a busted heat exchanger prevents heating, which leaves you without warmth when you need it the most. During a furnace tune up, heat exchanger condition and performance is inspected so that repairs or component replacement can be completed before any safety or performance concerns take place.
  • Thermostat issues. Thermostat issues impact the entire system because the device controls when the system turns on and off. Problems with the thermostat include incorrect temperature readings, frequent cycling, and more. Furnace maintenance benefits the thermostat, which keeps the entire system running as you expect.  
  • Blower always runs. Finally, if your blower constantly runs, you likely have problems with the thermostat or switch. Blowers turn on and off based on signals from the thermostat, so problems with the thermostat mean the blower doesn’t know when to turn off. When this happens, your energy bill skyrockets due to constant energy consumption.  

The Most Important Furnace Maintenance Benefits

Maintenance ensures the entire system works properly so homeowners aren’t left in the cold during Ohio’s bitter winters. The preventable issues listed above are investigated during service visits, which allows you to stop them before they ever start. 

 

  • System longevity. With maintenance, furnaces last longer. When the parts are checked every year, they experience fewer repairs and replacements, which makes the whole unit work better. This ensures the furnace’s lifespan reaches its full potential. Plus, every year the quality of the system improves when everything is maintained.
  • Safety. Safety comes first for HVAC technicians, which means they take extra care when evaluating the more dangerous aspects of your furnace. They check for problems with gas and carbon monoxide ventilation to prevent any leaks. 
  • Proper airflow. Next, furnace maintenance benefits the overall airflow through and from the unit. Over time, the furnace has a harder time distributing warm air because the blower and fan experience wear and tear with frequent use. The HVAC technician makes sure all these parts are tuned up to work at their best.  
  • Energy efficiency. Energy efficiency helps lower the furnace’s impact on the environment. Because most furnaces use gas, it’s important to make sure they use that gas effectively to limit energy waste. Consistent maintenance helps keep the unit’s energy efficiency as high as possible, as furnace efficiency declines over time. 
  • Manufacturer warranties. Not all repairs and component replacements are covered under manufacturer warranties, so it’s crucial to keep those problems to a minimum with regular service. Additionally, most warranties include a clause on maintenance. Most say homeowners must have professional service once a year to continue to qualify for the warranty.
  • Time saver. When it’s freezing outside, time is of the essence to prevent discomfort and preserve a safe indoor environment. During the winter months, HVAC technicians are busy with repairs and replacements – it can take a while to complete your needed repair service. Maintenance reduces your risk of breakdowns, saving you time (and money) on repair service calls. Plus, maintenance visits are relatively quick, especially if you have them performed annually. 
  • Fewer repairs. Repairs happen less frequently with yearly service. Furnace maintenance benefits the system because the parts are under regular surveillance, so small issues are resolved before bigger malfunctions occur. HVAC technicians fix minor issues during the maintenance visit, which ensures small problems do not turn into large ones.
  • Lower energy bill. Along with energy efficiency, regular service helps lower your energy bill. When the furnace is optimized for lower energy consumption, your bill goes down. Regular maintenance ensures the energy is used efficiently.
  • Air quality improves. Finally, filter changes are a routine part of all service visits. This instantly improves your air quality. In addition, the furnace gets a good cleaning inside the system so no dust and dirt flow through the unit.

 

DIY Ways to Maximize Your Furnace Maintenance Benefits

There are some things homeowners are able to do to maximize furnace maintenance benefits. Furnace maintenance at home aids what the technicians do during their service checks, which improves the overall function of your furnace. 

  • Clean around the system. The space around your furnace is just as important to keep clean as the furnace itself. Dust and dirt around the system gets into the unit and circulates back into the home. A clean area around the furnace ensures no extra dust gets into the system. Plus, debris and items store nearby block airflow, reducing system performance and efficiency.
  • Dust regularly. Similarly, it’s important to dust your entire home often. This helps keep the air in your home clean because it eliminates the possibility of clean air blowing up dust on your surfaces, kicking it into circulation as air moves throughout the home. 
  • Check filters. Lastly, check in on your filters every month and change them as directed by the manufacturer guidelines. Sometimes they need an early change—usually during times of heavy use—so be sure to keep a few extra filters handy.  

Furnace Maintenance Benefits: Get Help from Thomas & Galbraith 

Thomas & Galbraith maximizes your furnace maintenance benefits with our service visits in Cincinnati, Ohio. Our trained HVAC technicians are experienced with everything related to furnaces, so give us a call today to schedule your maintenance. If you experience unexpected problems, we’re here for that, too!

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