Everybody appreciates the comfort and coziness that a furnace brings when winter rolls around. Unfortunately, however, not everybody respects the amount of maintenance that a furnace needs to remain in good working order. Even a furnace that seems to be running normally may quietly develop problems if neglected for too long.
Don't deceive yourself into thinking that a furnace can be ignored as long as it keeps working. If you would like to educate yourself about some of the key things that a furnace technician can do to keep your furnace operating at peak efficiency for years to come, read on.
1. Combustion Chamber Cleaning
The combustion chamber acts as the literal and metaphorical heart of your furnace. This is the place where heat is generated by igniting a careful combination of air and fuel. In a perfect world, this process of combustion would be so carefully calibrated that every last bit of fuel is burned for its heat.
Of course, things simply don't work like that in the real world. For one thing, natural gas contains a natural degree of impurities that won't combust fully. For another, a furnace can easily become miscalibrated. Should the air-fuel ratio fall out of harmony, combustion will not proceed in a complete and thorough manner.
The take away here is that various inefficiencies in the combustion process result in the formation of soot and other byproducts. As time goes on, these substances accumulate on the combustion chamber's walls. Eventually, corrosion will set in. If left to wreak its destruction unchecked, such corrosion will ultimately destroy the chamber, requiring that a new one be installed - often at a high cost.
Regular cleaning with a stiff wire brush is the customary way to prevent such corrosion from negatively affecting your furnace's combustion chamber.
2. Flue Pipe Inspection
The aforementioned byproducts don't just negatively affect the inside of the combustion chamber. Over time, they will also start to eat away at the flue pipe that carries exhaust gases out of your home. This is an especially dangerous problem. Because, if holes form in the walls of the flue, exhaust gases may end up escaping out into your home.
This scenario poses a grave risk to you and your family because the carbon monoxide in the exhaust gas is a highly toxic substance. For that reason, it is vital that a technician inspect your flue pipe on a yearly basis. They will identify and remove any areas of corrosion.
In addition, they will look for any other structural deficiencies in the flue. Given the intense heat fluctuations to which a flue pipe is exposed, it is not uncommon for seams to split or metal panels to crack. Provided that the damage is not too pervasive, a technician can often repair it through the use of special foil tape.
3. Oil Filter Replacement
This item pertains specifically to those who have an oil-burning furnace. These furnaces are equipped with filters designed to prevent debris and other impurities from getting stuck in the fuel nozzle. Such clogs will restrict the flow of oil into the combustion chamber - resulting in a potentially serious drop in efficiency.
Of course, a clogged oil filter can be just as problematic as a clogged fuel nozzle. To keep this useful component from causing problems, an HVAC technician will inspect and replace the oil filter during a maintenance visit if necessary.
A furnace represents a highly coordinated system, one that must be carefully maintained in order to ensure its proper function. Even if you haven't noticed anything wrong with your furnace, be sure to have a professional check it out regularly. For more information about what a maintenance visit might include, feel free to contact us at Covington Air Systems, Inc.