Living Smart: Furnace Maintenance

Here’s a hot tip for fall: Take action now so that a furnace problem doesn’t leave you in the cold.

An inspection and tuneup will help ensure that your heating system is winter-ready, safe and efficient.

Our consumer-services researchers found that the price of a furnace inspection can start as low as $65 to $85. But the cost of neglecting furnace maintenance can be high, not only in terms of cost, but in convenience and safety.

Heating pros tell our team that 75 percent of emergency winter calls can be attributed to lack of maintenance. A neglected heating system may break down when you most need it. It can also lead to higher energy bills. In the worst-case scenario, an untended furnace may emit colorless, odorless but deadly carbon monoxide.

Our researchers found that during a thorough heating-system inspection, a technician will:

—Check electrical connections and test voltage, to make sure system components aren’t likely to fail any time soon.
—Lubricate moving parts. Insufficient lubrication can decrease overall efficiency and create early wear and tear.
—Make sure the condensation drain for your home’s air conditioner, furnace or heat pump isn’t clogged. An obstructed drain can cause water damage, high humidity and mold or bacteria growth.
—Check startup and shutdown controls. The start and stop cycles, usually based on thermostat settings, should be checked to make sure the system is operating properly and safely and heating as programmed.
—Check, clean or replace the air filter.
—Inspect exhaust outlets. Improper exhausting may cause a dangerous buildup of carbon monoxide or other gases. During a seasonal maintenance tuneup, the chimney flue or vent stack should be checked to ensure there’s no corrosion, leaks or back drafting.
—Check fuel lines and connections and burners and heat exchangers. Leaky or disconnected fuel lines or connections present a safety risk and lower system efficiency. Burners with accumulations of soot and cracked heat exchangers also compromise a system’s energy efficiency.

Aside from scheduling an expert inspection and tuneup, there are several things you can do to improve your system’s efficiency:

—Replace filters regularly. Experts recommend changing them at least every three months, but your system may require more frequent changing. A clogged air filter will restrict air flow, causing the unit to work harder. This reduces its lifespan and raises your utility bills. If you’re unsure how to deal with the filter, ask for help from your HVAC contractor during the routine maintenance visit.
—Install a programmable thermostat. These can save you up to 10 percent on your energy bills, since they allow you to avoid overheating your house when nobody’s home, for example.

It’s important to hire a well-trained and properly licensed professional to keep your furnace in tiptop shape. Heating and cooling systems comprise one of the home’s most complex systems. Also, many states require heating and cooling professionals to be licensed.

When hiring a company to maintain your furnace, ask for and check references.

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About thenoelteam

As a Broker with RE/MAX Alliance, I work energetically for my clients whether they are a buyer or seller. I help you achieve your goal of owning a home or getting the best price for your home in the shortest time possible. After graduating from UCLA with a degree in communications and finance, I was licensed in 1977 and since then I have sold over 3600 properties amounting to over $1 billion in sales. I currently rank in the top 10 in home sales for Colorado. I offer the same quality of service and superior communication to all clients, ranging from starter homes to multi-million dollar estates, commercial and income properties, relocations and foreclosures My goal is to provide you with the best representation possible whether you are buying or selling. Over the years, one of the things that I've discovered is that there is a difference in the way individual Realtors do business. For me, I have always felt that honesty and personal integrity are the foundations upon which a successful business and career are built and sustained. I have an extensive background and knowledge base in real estate, including financing, which has enabled me to provide outstanding, quality advice and service not found with many agents today. My commitment to communication creates a positive relationship between my client and myself that results in a successful property sale or purchase. My passion for real estate, commitment to my clients and personal integrity has helped me to achieve success placing me in the top 1% of all brokers in nationwide. In my career, I have earned a number of awards and received considerable recognition for my success but the most significant recognition comes from the fact that over 75% of my business comes from past clients. My success is a true measure of my client satisfaction.
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