Today we performed a furnace and AC change out in East Brainerd Tennessee, a suburb of Chattanooga and we were again reminded of how important annual checkups are for your furnace. Despite clear evidence that doing preventive maintenance prolongs the life of the equipment, keeps it more reliable and is the best way to identify safety issues, many homeowners take the attitude of “if it isn’t broke, don’t fix it” or maybe it is simply out of sight out of mind.
Some home owners believe that having their furnace maintained means they pay $50 – $200 to have someone vacuum the dust out and watch the burners for a minute. Certainly not all check ups are equal and there is no published standard to compare to. Still, all furnace manufacturers recommend either annual inspections and maintenance by a professional or furnace maintenance every 2 years and then annually after the furnace is 10 years old. This is because even small things like reduced air flow can cause big problems over time. Even with regular filter changes by the home owners, debris such as lint, pet hair and insulation can clog coils and collect on heat exchanges which increases the work load of the fan motor and raises the temperature on the heat exchanger. This can lead to premature failure of fan motors, clogged pressure switches and (much worse) speed up rusting and eventual cracking of the heat exchanger.
Having your HVAC service tech do a thorough maintenance on your furnace should enable it to last 20-40% longer and makes it much less likely to have it break down on you in the middle of the winter. Up to 75% of “no heat” calls in the winter are for furnace problems that could have detected and fixed by a good furnace inspection. Still, that is not the reason you should never skip annual furnace maintenance. The reason you should always have your furnace serviced prior to turning it on in the fall is to guarantee that you don’t suffer from carbon monoxide poisoning. The two things which increase oxidation (rusting) are high temperature and moisture. In the Chattanooga TN area, your furnace heat exchanger gets exposed to either high temperature or moving moisture air for ~3,300 hours run time per year and rust can eat a hole through where there wasn’t one last year.
Scenic City Heating and AC replaced this HVAC unit after the 20 year old air conditioner began leaking freon and the home owner decided to have us install a complete American Standard furnace and air conditioner. Both the furnace and the exhaust booster fan (power vent) were completely rusted out, both of which likely resulted in carbon monoxide entering the home. Yes, a good carbon monoxide detector is a must, but it is no substitute for proper maintenance and an annual furnace inspection. Our furnace maintenance costs just $69 per unit and includes a carbon monoxide meter check of air output from the furnace as well as visual inspection of the burners, flame and heat exchanger.