One of the most common service calls we get is for furnace repair, due to the fact that many people tend to forget about this vital part of your home heating system.
A good way to ward off expensive repair bills to ask about our furnace maintenance program, which many of our customers use to keep fuel costs down and extend the life of their furnace. Good maintenance will extend its life and usually lead to maximum use before you would need a new furnace installation.
Many people like to handle the simple things on their furnace but if it looks complicated to you we suggest you call us. Older furnaces can be finicky and the new high efficiency furnaces need a certified technician.
Furnace Filter Maintenance
Changing the filter is easy and should be done every 3 months or so. Some furnaces have the cheap fiberglass filters which let a lot of dust through, so the blower and other parts tend to get dirty faster. If you have a finer filter or an electrostatic type then it will be on its own furnace cleaning schedule but regardless, the filters need to be cared for regularly. Regularly vacuuming your home can also help your furnace, as less dust will ultimately enter the furnace because some will always get past the filter.
On many older furnaces the thermostat is outdated. Replacing it with a programmable digital thermostat will reduce your energy costs. They work by adjusting the temperature in your home according to your settings. By turning the heat down when no one is home and at night you save money.
With an older forced air furnace you need to oil the motor and blower shafts. Use a couple drops of 20 weight oil every year. Newer models have sealed bearings so that step is not required.
Most forced air furnaces use an electric motor and V-belt to run the blower. The V-belt needs to be aligned properly or it will wear out too fast. A tell-tale sign is running too loud and not squared up. If you find it out of alignment, loosen the screws and use a carpenter’s square to align the pulleys, then tighten everything up.
Here in BC, oil furnaces are not very common, but if you do have one you will want to change the oil filter every couple years. A natural gas furnace is less trouble with the most common problems happening with the thermocouple, the pilot light or something electrical.
How to Light The Pilot Light
When lighting the pilot light there are instruction in the manual. If you can’t find it and have forgotten how to turn on the pilot light it’s quite simple, but if it fails to light then there might be a problem. There is usually a small door covering the pilot light area, so pull that off. The pilot light controls, reset buttons, gas valves, and thermocouple are usually at the front of the furnace. We have included a video showing how to light a pilot light here for your convenience.
You gas furnace will have a control shutoff for safety reasons, but they are not perfect. If you smell rotten eggs that means gas has leaked into the home. Get out and call 911. Fortis BC or the fire department are the right people to call for help. Do not turn any lights on or off, do not try to shut off the gas leading to the furnace, just get out of the house.
By: Andrew Lake