The cost of heating a home can be prohibitively expensive, sometimes amounting to as much as one thousand dollars. Some of this expense can be mitigated by regular tune-ups. Professional tune-ups generally run around one hundred dollars or more and should be performed every few years in order to extend the life of the furnace. It is possible to do some yearly maintenance yourself and save on the cost of professional tune-ups and repairs. Here are some furnace tune-up tips.

A home heating system typically consists of three main parts; a thermostat, a heater, and a blower. The thermostat, or heat sensor, measures the temperature in your home and signals the heater and the blower to start working when the temperature drops below a certain threshold. The heater turns on and creates heat. The blower moves air over the heat exchanger and throughout the house. This raises the temperature throughout the house until the thermostat signals the heater and the blower to shut down. Maintenance checks these processes and ensures that everything is running smoothly.

First, inspect the furnace and the flames in the burner. There shouldn’t be any black soot on the furnace and the flames should be steady and blue. Second, when the furnace is cool and the circuit breaker is off, open the sides of the furnace and vacuums out any dust that has accumulated on the inside. This is also a good time to clean the blades of the blower fan. If your furnace takes oil put a few drops into the oil cups. Third, check that the fan belt is not cracked and has about ½ inch of give. It is possible that your furnace does not have a fan belt. After cleaning and checking the inside reassemble the furnace panels and turn the circuit breaker on.

It is also a good idea to replace the furnace filter about every month during winter.

A professional can perform a more thorough check with specialized equipment. They will check to make sure that the fuels are burning properly and that the venting ducts are well sealed. They will also inspect the mechanical parts and the filter inside the heater. Then using, a special set of mirror a professional will check the blower. They make sure that there are no obstructions that might compromise the blower. Depending upon the furnace, they might lubricate the blower motor.

The burners are then removed, cleaned and inspected. Clean burners ensure safer burning. With the burners removed it is possible to visually inspect the inside of the furnace for rust, holes and separated seams. It is this step that truly differentiates a professional tune-up and an amateur one. The pilot light and sensor are also cleaned.

A furnace produces carbon monoxide gas through combustion. Under normal circumstances this gas is exhausted out of the home, however, a furnace that is out of tune can leave this gas inside your home. This is why it’s a good idea to inspect the furnace every year and have a professional inspection done every few years. It would also be wise to acquire a carbon monoxide detector for your furnace room.