Desert Air: Furnace – Installation, Service and Inspect

Free In-Home Consultation: New Furnace, New Air Conditioning Unit, Water Heater Replacement, and Pipe Bursting

Desert Air 18 Point Gas Furnace Inspection
          • Blow out dust and vacuum out the furnace and burners
          • Check ignitor condition
          • Check and clean flame sensor
          • Visually inspect heat exchanger, look for visible cracks
          • Tighten T-Stat connections and wiring (at the furnace only)
          • Replace all air filters
          • Check blower wheel to see if it is dirty. May need to be cleaned
          • Clean lint off of motor end bell if accessible
          • Check for adequate (high and low) combustion air
          • Check drain line and/or pump
          • If it’s a 90%:
                    • There should be a drain pan underneath the furnace if located in the attic or crawl space.
                    • Check slope of condensate line
          • If furnace is a down flow there needs to be a combustion floor base
          • Single wall flue has 6” clearance to any combustion
          • Make sure B-vent or double wall has 1” clearance to any combustion
          • Cycle T-Stat in all operating modes to check for proper T-Stat operations
          • Check Carbon Monoxide levels
          • Make sure all vents have proper airflow
          • Sticker equipment

How often should a furnace be inspected?
Before the cold weather hits, experts recommend having a professional service your furnace to keep it in good running order and prevent it from conking out when you need it most.

Heating, ventilation and air conditioning experts say annual furnace maintenance will prolong the life of the system, save energy and decrease health risks.

“The manufacturers that built them all agree on this; you should get it serviced once [a year] for heating and once for cooling,” says Paul Mills, owner of highly rated Air Experts Heating & Cooling in Raleigh, N.C. “Tuning it up and checking it out is definitely recommended. Much like a car, if you ignore it, a lot more things break. You [will] extend the life of it and help prevent major breakdowns.”

Inspecting the HVAC system
Some experts say up to 75 percent of no-heat calls in the winter are related to a lack of maintenance. Left unserviced, a furnace can stop working suddenly, leaving your family in the cold.

It can also be a health hazard. Experts say an inspection can reveal carbon monoxide leaks, which are hard to detect because the gas is colorless and odorless. Carbon monoxide can lead to headaches, dizziness, nausea and even death. An estimated 500 people die each year, and 15,000 people are taken to emergency rooms, because of exposure.

Not maintaining your furnace — whether it’s gas or electric — can cause it to run less efficiently, making it work even harder, therefore increasing your monthly energy bills, experts say.

An inspection and cleaning typically costs anywhere from $135 to $175.

“There are about 24 different things we do,” Mills said. “We clean the heating system to improve efficiency and save money. We check all the controls for safety, which can give you peace of mind for the season. For every tuneup, we make sure it’s running at peak operating performance, so it will be comfortable.”

Other service checks include:
          • Checking the thermostat settings to make sure the system is properly running.
          • Inspecting electrical connections and testing voltage on the system components to prevent any component
               failure in the future.
          • Lubricating moving parts.
          • Inspecting the condensate drain so it’s not obstructed.
          • And checking system start-up and shutdown controls for proper operations, as well as changing the filter.

Energy savings
After an HVAC professional services the furnace, there are a few steps homeowners can take to keep it running smoothly. Most importantly, perhaps, is changing the air filter regularly, at least every three months, according to Energy Star, which is a branch of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. A clogged air filter will restrict air flow, which can also negatively affect your health through exposure to environmental contaminates.

Another energy savings tip, HVAC professionals say, is using a programmable thermostat. A programmable thermostat can save you up to 10 percent on energy bills, if you dial it down seven or eight degrees from the normal temperature setting — the U.S. Department of Energy recommends a setting of 68 degrees — for eight hours a day, whether it’s during the work day or at night, according to DOE.

“There have been a lot of studies that have proven having it serviced and maintained can save up to 30 percent on your energy bills,” Mills said.

Kris Conover, a technician for highly rated Aaron York’s Quality Air in Indianapolis, says it’s also important to remember to maintain new furnaces, not just old ones.

“Most people don’t understand [and when they] put a new system in think, ‘I’ve got a new system, so I won’t have to maintain it,'” Conover said. “Well, there’s nothing greater from the truth than that, because manufacturers require you to have regular maintenance and to have record of that. If you would ever have a warranty claim, that manufacturer has the ability to ask you for those service records. So not only does it make sense from a perspective of the longevity of it, but if you have a warranty, you want to make sure you keep it intact.”

(Source: Angie’s List. How often should a furnace be inspected?)

Should you replace your furnace?
If you need to replace your furnace, don’t wait until you are stuck in the cold of winter. Here’s what you need to know before investing in a new HVAC system. Becky Schooley had to replace her ten year old unit after it went out earlier this year.

Becky Schooley, Homeowner: “The company that installed the existing unit had put in one that was too large for this home and so I think that might have caused the early demise of the unit or may have contributed to that.”

Experts tell Angie’s List there are warning signs your furnace may need replacing. Are your utility bills going up? Furnaces often lose their efficiency as they get older. Is your furnace breaking down more often, resulting in costly repairs? Are you always adjusting the thermostat to make your home more comfortable? Can the system keep up?

Kris Conover, Aaron York’s Quality Air: “The average life of a heating and cooling system is somewhere between 12 to 18 years so obviously as you get older things start to break down in your body, the same thing happens with heating and cooling equipment.”

If it’s time to replace your furnace, there are some things you should consider before buying. Remember, bigger is not always better. Your unit should be correctly sized to operate properly and efficiently. And how much do you want to spend? As the efficiency rating goes up, so does the cost.

Kris Conover: “Every system has an evaluation of how efficient it is. AFUE is Annual Fuel Utilization Efficiency. So if a furnace is rated on that. So, for instance a 95 percent, or 95 percent AFUE furnace, it’s using 95 BTUs per hundred BTUs put in. To put it in another term, if you’re spending a dollar on heating, it’s providing you 95 cents of output.”

Angie Hicks, Angie’s List founder: “Buying a new furnace is a large investment in your home. It’s an appliance that is going to last for many, many years so you want to be sure you find a company that is going to stand behind their installation. You should expect them to come out and give you an assessment of your furnace on-site. Also, they’ll check your ductwork as well to make sure it’s adequate.”

Ask prospective companies what specific manufacturers or equipment brands they carry. Contractors should hold training certifications with the manufacturers of the equipment they carry.

Angie Hicks: “Even if you have a brand new furnace you want to be sure you are doing your regular maintenance. A great idea is to check your furnace filter once a month. An easy way to do that is check in when you paying your utilities bills each month. A clean air filter is going to help your furnace run more efficiently and help you air quality.”

If your air conditioner is showing its age, it may be a good idea to replace both your furnace and AC at the same time. You could see some savings because the installation crew is already on site. Some manufacturers may also offer total system rebates when you replace both your air and furnace.

Angie’s List tips:
          • Utility bills increasing?
          • More costly repairs?
          • Difficult to maintain temperature?

(Source: Angie’s List. Should you replace your furnace?)