Keeping Your AC System Cleaner

What Are The Most Critical Aspects Of Annual Furnace Maintenance?

by Yolanda White

Maintaining a home furnace is essential to ensure its longevity, reliability, and efficiency. Although most residential furnaces aren't exceedingly complex, they still contain numerous mechanical and electrical components that can wear out or fail. These issues can lead to costly repair bills or even high utility costs that can bleed your wallet dry over the long term.

While every part of an annual maintenance visit is essential, a few items are exceptionally high impact. These three furnace components are among the most critical elements that an HVAC technician will check and service during their heating system maintenance visit.

1. Flame Sensor

The flame sensor is a crucial safety element that confirms your burners are operating as they should. When the furnace isn't running, you can consider the flame sensor as existing in a "safe" state. As long as the burners are off, the flame sensor won't signal the furnace control board. The control board will shut off the gas valve without this signal to avoid dumping unburnt fuel into the furnace.

Since the sensor's role necessarily exposes it to your furnace's flames, it can become dirty over time. Part of any annual visit involves cleaning the flame sensor and confirming that it's operating correctly. A faulty or dirty flame sensor can cause your furnace to stop running, so this maintenance item is vital to avoid unexpected shutdowns as the winter wears on.

2. Heat Exchanger

Your heat exchanger is the magic that keeps your furnace safe to operate even as it burns fuel that generates toxic gases. Instead of releasing combustion products directly into your home's air, the hot gas travels through the heat exchanger. This component keeps the gas contained while allowing the surrounding air to extract heat from it.

Unfortunately, heat exchangers can crack due to overheating or age. These cracks can allow your furnace to vent harmful gases into your home. Any routine maintenance visit typically includes a heat exchanger inspection. This step may not seem important, but it helps to ensure that your furnace is operating as safely as it can.

3. Bearings and Motors

Most modern furnaces contain two motors: one for the house blower and one for the draft inducer blower. Depending on the make and model of your furnace, the bearings in these motors may require periodic lubrication. Keeping these parts well-lubricated ensures that they run smoothly and quietly while also extending their lifespan for as long as possible.

Remember that your annual maintenance visit is more than just a formality. The work your technician performs during these service jobs will help keep your furnace safe, reliable, and efficient, no matter how cold the winter may become.