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Fall Furnace Maintenance Guide

by VitalStorm Content on November 2, 2017


Earlier this month, top U.S. weather officials warned of a likely return of La Nina, reminding many in the Pacific Northwest that time is running out to make sure the furnace is ready for the winter season. The simple maintenance tips below can help extend the life of your gas furnace, improve energy efficiency and save you from costly repairs. Before you start, if your system is due for a professional inspection, give the experts at Blue Flame a call. Yearly inspections are recommended, and the DIY maintenance steps below should be included.

Safety First

In the U.S., most HVAC systems burn natural gas in a combustion chamber to produce heat. A fan, or blower, pumps air across the heat source and into the home. Meanwhile, unspent fuel and noxious gasses—including carbon monoxide—exit through an exhaust flue leading outside. For these reasons, never attempt to maintenance a unit before shutting off the gas and turning off the unit’s power. Additionally, it’s a good idea to have an HVAC professional assess any potential issues you discover.

Visual Inspection

Before shutting off the unit, make a thorough inspection of your home’s heating systems. Again, don’t attempt any hands-on repairs with the unit operating as this could be dangerous. Instead, observe your HVAC setup and make a note of potential issues.

Adjust the thermostat to a temperature above the current room temperature. Once the furnace kicks on, make sure warm air is blowing from each vent in your system.

Once you’ve observed the airflow, inspect the furnace. Locate the gas line and exhaust flue. Look over the gas pipe for any sign of damage or corrosion. Give special attention to joints and fittings. Repeat this process with the exhaust flue running from the unit to the outside of the house. If there is a safety viewing window on an external panel, peek in to check the burner. The flame should be blue throughout with no yellow or orange coloration.

Clean and Dust

At this point, close your home’s gas valve, and power off the HVAC system using a switch on the unit or flipping the power breaker.

Once it’s had time to cool, open or remove the exterior furnace panel and take a look inside. Visually check the burner assembly and bottom panel for black soot, a sign of burner malfunction. Remove dust with a vacuum cleaner hose and a slender extension. In places where the vacuum can’t reach, such as on the blades of the blower fan, use a soft-bristled paint brush to clear dust. If the fan belt is damaged, showing signs of wear or loose, replace the belt.  Before putting the panel back on, locate and replace the blower’s air filter and check visible wires for damage.

After turning the furnace and gas back on, repeat the initial walkthrough inspection to observe any changes in operation and to ensure the burner pilot light is ignited and that the unit is operating properly.

Be Proactive

It’s important to address any issues you discovered in the process immediately. Improper furnace operation can not only lead to costly energy bills and HVAC repairs, but also put you and your home in danger. For this reason, consider calling an HVAC professional to assess and perform any repairs.

Remember that the experts at Blue Flame can help all your furnace service needs. Call 206-388-5667 to schedule an appointment today!