Labor Day has come and gone. The kids are back at school. Football season is here. Put it all together and it means one thing…winter is just around the corner.
With that in mind, your thoughts should be turning to your furnace, and making sure it is running properly.
But first, a little primer on how your furnace works. While there are hundreds of parts within a furnace, there are several major components:
Inducer and pressure switch. The inducer pulls combustion air through the furnace and helps to expel the products of combustion safely to the outside. The pressure switch ensures that the inducer is functioning properly and can expel the products of combustion.
Burner assembly. The burner assembly consists of several components that mix combustion air and fuel (natural gas in most cases), and ignite and burn the mixture to produce heat.
Heat exchanger. The heat exchanger allows the heat produced by the burner to be transferred to the air being circulated throughout the home, thereby heating the air in the home. The heat exchanger also serves as a barrier between the poisonous products of combustion and the air that we breathe. This is the reason it is so important to inspect the heat exchanger annually for cracks.
Blower assembly. The blower assembly draws air into the return air ductwork, over the heat exchanger to be heated, and out through the supply ductwork, into the living spaces in the home. If the blower motor fails, heat will not be distributed through the home, even if the burner assembly is working.
Flue. The flue piping takes the exhaust generated by the furnace and carries it outside, ensuring that pollutants do not circulate through the home.
Air filter. While this is not an actual component of the furnace, it is probably the most important and most overlooked part of the heating system. The air filter traps particles and dust, preventing these impurities from accumulating in the furnace and being circulated in your home. Air filters need to be cleaned or replaced periodically.
You may also have a humidifier, which adds moisture to the air in the home. CLICK HERE to learn more about how a humidifier can make you more comfortable, keep you healthy and save on heating costs.
There are a few things you can do to maintain your heating system.
Make sure that your system is properly sized for your house. Bigger is not always better, but either is smaller.
Check your filters once a month and replace them frequently. Dirty filters make your system work harder.
Inspect the ductwork for leaks and gaps.
Set the thermostat a little lower (especially when you are not in the house) to make the system work a little less, which will save you money.
If you need to replace your furnace, make sure you purchase a high-efficiency system. Manufacturers frequently offer credits and rebates for these purchases.
The other key thing you should do is have a professional maintain your system annually. Make sure the maintenance technician does the following:
Test starting capabilities
Test blower components
Test voltage of motors
Test AMP draw on motors
Test in heat cycle
Inspect and clean burners
Inspect the heat exchanger
Inspect wiring and electrical connections
Lubricate moving parts if necessary
Check the thermostat
Check the filter
Check the safety controls
Check the condensate drain
Check the air flow
Check the exhaust vent piping
Next time, we’ll discuss things you can do to make sure your heating system runs more efficiently, and what you can do to save energy costs.