See also: Gas Furnace Troubleshooting

Do-it-yourself if you feel competent or hire a reliable maintenance and repair service to perform this preventive maintenance job. A thorough
professional tune up will cost you around $100 or more but you can do some of the maintenance process yourself, and save some of that money.
A professional service will have the right equipment to test your system thoroughly and will also be able to do more checks than the homeowner.
These tests include the air flow rate, fuel flow, flue temperature, carbon dioxide-to-oxygen ratio of the exhaust gas, carbon monoxide levels and the
internal thermostat calibration. Also ask the technician to do a complete cleaning of the system's combustion chamber, burners and the heat
exchanger surfaces.

A yearly check should not be overlooked for safety reasons and to make sure everything is running efficiently. The older your furnace is, the
it is to do a yearly maintenance. Newer gas furnaces are equipped with many features that shut the furnace off when a problem is
detected. Older furnaces have no such devices. Over time, older furnaces can develop small cracks in the combustion chamber. These cracks may
not be visible to the naked eye. It is through these cracks that Carbon Monoxide can leak into your home. In fact, you should have a Carbon
Monoxide detector in the vicinity as a precaution.

Here are some tips to have a long lasting furnace. Firstly, furnaces should be cleaned at least once every year. You can do this annual cleaning in
the autumn so that by the time chilly winter comes, your furnace is operating tip-top. Apart from the basic cleaning, you will also need to make a few
observations and inspections. Replace the worn out copper tubing connectors periodically and check the aluminum tubing for leakage at the
connections by applying soap water to the joints. Do-it yourself with this step by step checklist.  By keeping up on this maintenance you can save
yourself hundreds of dollars in service calls and at least a few headaches down the road.



With a gas furnace, you can check for gas leaks simply by smelling around. Check the metal piping, or possibly a yellow flexible tube running to the
furnace. Natural gas and propane have a rotten smell added for detection. If you smell gas, leave the area and contact your energy company
immediately. Stay calm, but safe is always better then sorry in the case of a gas leak.
If you haven't found a gas leak, you can precede with the check-up.

At the furnace, inspect around the unit for any signs of rust or water. If there is water or rust present you may have a drainage problem, which is
the 2nd most common service call. This step will only apply to your system if you have a high efficiency gas furnace and/or a humidifier. Modern
gas furnaces condense water in their combustion process, and humidifiers can use large quantities of water as well. Around your furnace you will
find one of two things: hard or flexible tubing such as PVC, copper, plastic tubing, or a small pump mounted close to the furnace (known as a
condensate pump). In most cases you will find an opening in that line or pump. Here we can pour a mixture of bleach and water into the line. This
will flush the line and help control any algae that can block the drain. Try to verify that your cup of bleach mixture makes it through to then end of
the drain. It is recommended to do this every three months at least, in the heating and cooling seasons.



A dirty air filter can double or even triple your home heating costs!
A dirty air filter is also the #1 reason for a furnace to shut down & the professionals to be called out (furnace will overheat & stop).
The furnace filter is the one component that needs to be checked and possibly changed/cleaned as much as monthly during the heating season
(every 3 months at minimum or according to your furnace's instructions). Once you've found the filter, pull it out of the duct work, and hold it up to
the sunlight. If you can easily see light shining through, the filter is okay and may be put back in the furnace. If not, you'll need to replace the filter
or clean it if it is a permanent type filter. If you have a permanent-type filter, they are usually saturated with a special filter-coating chemical. After
you clean a permanent filter with a hose or a blast of compressed air, go to your local hardware store or home center and buy the spray-on
chemical designed for your filter (specifications are usually on the filter frame). Follow the manufacturer's directions for re-coating. If your filters are
not the permanent-type, simply buy new replacement ones.
Replacing or cleaning filters is an important part of this maintenance.

Choosing A Replacement Filter:

Before you head out to buy a new filter, be sure to make note of the size of your current filter. This is given in three numbers, A x B x C. You can
find filters at most home improvement stores. Be cautious of filters that claim to be allergen filters. While they do in fact filter quite well, they come
with some big disadvantages. They typically cost $5-10.00 more then a typical filter, they can be too restrictive on some duct system and cause
serious and expensive damage to your equipment. They also clog up much quicker then a lower grade filter, thus requiring more frequent
replacements. A low grade filter is not good either...sticking with mid-grade is your best bet. A good all around filter that is carried at most stores is
a 3M Filtrete RED label, with a 3M rating of 700-1000. It provides a great balance of filtration, cost, and longevity.

 Furnace Filter Replacement.


Run the fan to check for running time. Fans set at too high a speed waste energy. If the fan shuts off too soon or comes on too early, much of the
heat that should be circulating through your home will be wasted up the flue. Also, make sure any booster fans that equalize the delivery of heat to
rooms further away from the furnace are working properly. Otherwise, you'll end up with some rooms that are too hot and others that are too cold.


How to Inspect the Blower Fan Belt on a Furnace:

Regularly inspect blower-fan belts for any sign of damage and replace the belt if it’s damaged. Knowing how to inspect the blower-fan belt improves
furnace efficiency.

Furnaces need monthly maintenance and many do-it-yourselfers overlook the blower-fan belt. A worn, wimpy belt isn’t dangerous, but it makes a
squealing noise that may drive you crazy and, more important, cost you money. If the belt isn’t tight enough, it slips, and the fan won’t turn as it
should. You get less hot air for your money.

Inspect the belt for wear and tear. Look for signs of cracking or weakness. If the belt is frayed or looks worn, replace it right away. In fact, as long
as you're buying a new blower-fan belt, buy two. Keep the extra one in a plastic bag on a nail by the furnace for those middle-of-the-night, all-the-
stores-are-closed, the-house-is-freezing, blown-fan-belt emergency.

Check the tension. Even if the belt looks good, if it has more than 1/2 inch of give either way (1 inch total), tighten it by taking up the extra slack by
using the motor adjusting bolt or you can also tighten the belt by loosening the attachment bracket. Then, move the motor assembly so the belt
tightens and holds.

Don’t tighten too much — a too-tight belt damages the motor and the fan bearings. It can make a big, expensive mess of things.
While you’re in there fooling with the belt,
check the pulley alignment too. The pulleys should line up perfectly. If you see any twisting in the belt,
loosen the motor pulley mounting bolts and make an adjustment.

Just a little bit (few drops only)


You're done! Now place the furnace cover back on.  If the cover is not on correctly, your furnace will not start.
This is a very common and unnecessary reason for service calls!
Great job, your done with the furnace! Now lets check the house registers.
Check all the registers that deliver the heat to various rooms in your house. You can remove the register covers yourself to make sure there are no
foreign objects in the ducts near the openings that might block the flow of warm air. Clean the register covers with a damp cloth to remove
accumulated dust and debris. Also, make sure rugs, furniture and draperies are pulled away from the registers so the warm air flows freely into the
Reduce the total heating requirements by closing or damping down the registers going to any unused rooms in the winter. But do not close off
more than 20 % of the registers because this can cause high resistance and unnecessary heat build up in the furnace. There's no use heating
rooms no one is using regularly... just don't go overboard.


Now you can safely turn back on the gas and power to your furnace.You may need to  Re-light the pilot . Check the flames in the burner. They
should be blue and steady, not yellow or orange and flickering.  Soot build-up or yellow flames are an indication of poor combustion. See
Troubleshooting the pilot.

Tips & Warnings

Please be careful...these steps are done at your own risk. While this procedure may seem fairly simply, you are dealing with electrical and/or gas
systems. Always be aware of your surroundings and be careful! The author takes no responsibility for any injury or damage to equipment while
following these recommendations.

Conserve energy by lowering the thermostat setting a few degrees. You can save as much as 10% on your energy bill by simply turning the
thermostat to 68 degrees.

Reduce the total heating requirements by closing or damping down the registers going to any unused rooms in the winter. But do not close off
more than 20 % of the registers because this can cause high resistance and unnecessary heat build up in the furnace. There's no use heating
rooms no one is using regularly... just don't go overboard.

Always monitor your Carbon Monoxide levels by investing in a Carbon Monoxide detector. This is an odorless gas that can reach deadly levels
without your awareness if your furnace is not running properly. Be especially alert to this if you have an older furnace-you are at more high risk!

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Seasonal Gas Furnace Maintenance
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