Gas Furnace Inspection and Seasonal Furnace Maintenance Checklist
In case you missed it, one of the hottest summer seasons on record is finally winding down and we get the chance to shut down our home air conditioning systems and save some electricity costs for a few months. For many of us around the US, that also means it’s that time of year to start thinking about our home heating system maintenance and our gas furnace!
While you know the furnace fan or blower assembly worked right with the AC system, you won’t truly know if everything else inside the gas furnace is OK until that first 50 degree morning when you switch the thermostat to heat mode, and wait for the warm air to come through the vents.
In this Gas Furnace Guide article, we’re going to lead you through several preventative maintenance tasks for your gas furnace maintenance, and home heating season in general. By the time you finish, you will have a good idea of what you can handle on your own, and when you may need to call in a heating contractor to take over for a more thorough annual inspection of your furnace.
Look, Listen and Inspect Your Gas Furnace
The bottom line is that the first line of furnace preventative maintenance, comes from visually inspecting a gas furnace. Most of our gas furnaces are installed in basements and attics, utility closets, or even in a crawl space under a home.Visually inspect the furnace before you ever consider starting it up.
- Is the furnace there? Don’t laugh, theft for scrap metal is pretty big these days!
- It is standing upright and not covered in rust?
- Does it have the general appearance you would expect? No panels falling or hanging off the sides, etc?
- Does the gas line appear to be properly and securely fastened?
- Is the flue pipe or PVC venting pipe appear to be properly and firmly attached to the unit?
- Are there any connected duct lines with loose insulation or taped joints?
If the furnace appears to be in good visual condition, you can probably feel safe turning the thermostat to the heat mode and starting the furnace for the first time of the season. Although many people no longer have standing pilot systems, you may need to light the furnace pilot if its old. It also goes without saying, if your furnace is old enough to have a standing pilot light, you may want to get a few free estimates for replacement, just to have a good idea of how much a new furnace costs to replace this winter.
Now that your furnace is up and running, you will probably want to do a more thorough DIY furnace inspection. As you complete the checklist on the page, keep in mind that since your furnace was just started for the first time, it’s probably going to make noises you aren’t used to hearing as the metal cracks, creaks and groans itself to life for the first time of the season.
In addition to furnace noises, you may realize that your gas furnace smells funny due to dust and other contaminants that have built up inside the system over the months it was not being used.
Professional Gas Furnace Seasonal Maintenance
Annual inspections by heating contractors are an important part of the preventative maintenance for gas furnaces. In fact, not only will it assure that your system stays running at its peak performance, it may even be required of some furnace manufacturers, to maintain an active warranty. If you need help finding a good company to work with, read the articles below.
- How to Hire a Heating Contractor
- 10 Questions to Ask a Contractor Before You Hire Them
- How to Check a Heating Contractors Credentials
- Reasons for Choosing a Pro to Service your Furnace
You can learn more about hiring a professional by heading to our main heating contractors section of the website. Some of what you can expect from a professional HVAC contractor are:
- Inspecting and Testing Carbon Monoxide Detectors
- Testing of all Safety Components on your Furnace
- Checking of Gas Pressure and Valves for Leaks and Proper Operation
- Inspect Gas Valve(s) and Burner(s) for Proper Operation
- Indepth Heat Exchanger Inspection
- Check the Operation and Functionality of Hot Surface Igniters and Flame Sensors during Furnace Start Up
- Check all Electrical Sources and Connections
- Thoroughly Inspect Flue Pipes and Duct System
- Much more…
Preventative Maintenance and Troubleshooting Checklists
Many of the furnace manufacturers have dedicated pages on their websites to help you understand some basic DIY maintenance tips, and troubleshooting guides for your furnace. The links below lead directly to the manufacturer websites.
- Trane PM Checklist
- Carrier Troubleshooting Guide – http://www.residential.carrier.com/support/troubleshooting.shtml
- American Standard Symptom Checker
- EnergyStar Maintenance Checklist for home HVAC
What if You Need a New Furnace?
When all else fails and you already know when to replace your gas furnace, you still may have several unanswered questions. We have written many guides to new furnaces on this site over the past few years, and these articles may guide you in the right direction.
- How Much to Replace Only the Furnace?
- Furnace Replacement Cost Guide
- Gas Furnace Tax Credits (Updated for 2011)
- Top Rated Gas Furnaces 2011
- Replace Oil Furnace with Gas
Many more buying guides and tips in the Furnace Buying Guides section.
Learn More at Outside Websites
We know we cannot cover all aspects of furnace maintenance or even have a seasonal maintenance checklist for every type out there. We have compiled a list of sites below to help you more.
- How Stuff Works Furnace Maintenance – Good info, but deals somewhat with commercial, talking about replacing belts and such. Very few, if any home furnaces use belts.
- About.com Furnace Maintenance Guide – Very informative and covers things from changing filter, to vacuuming the coil.
- Do it Yourself Furnace Tune Up – Fairly good guide, but much of what is written here is also on that page.
Do you know of a great resource for furnace tune ups or seasonal furnace maintenance? If so, please share it in the comment section below. We will review your suggestions and may even add them to this list!