Maintain your furnace with new filters and seasonal tune-ups

While homeowners can take care of changing humidifier filters and pads and installing carbon monoxide detectors, experts say furnace maintenance is best left to licensed contractors. and insured.


METRO DETROIT – As winter approaches and the air cools, homeowners turn up the heat and think more about maintaining their furnace. Experts say there are several things to keep in mind to get the most out of your furnace – from the filters you use and how often you change them, to tune-ups professional contractors can perform. in order to maintain proper operation.

A dirty furnace filter can cause problems, but it’s fairly straightforward for homeowners to replace them on their own. Fresh furnace filters can be purchased at home improvement stores. Each is rated by its minimum efficiency ratio value, or MERV – the higher the MERV, the denser the filter. Simpler models should be changed every three to four months, while high density filters should be changed every six to ten months, although the recommended schedule may change from model to model.

Lower and upper MERV filters have their advantages and disadvantages. Higher MERV filters collect more dirt but restrict airflow, which can sometimes damage the motor or cause the furnace to overheat and damage the heat exchanger. They can also make the furnace work harder, which increases your energy bill. On the other hand, lower MERV filters allow for increased airflow but may not collect as much dust.

“Lower MERV filters will need to be changed more often,” said Marcus Piwonski, owner and general manager of Hoover Electric Plumbing Heating & Cooling, in Troy. “It also depends on other factors, such as how clean your ducts, how often you open windows and whether there are pets in the house. … Usually, the larger the filter, the longer it takes to replace the filter.

Dave Tapling is the Director of Operations at Aladdin Heating and Cooling in Warren. He agreed that environmental factors play a role.

“I would say, realistically, unless there are a lot of lanes for dust and dirt to collect around the house, that we recommend replacing the filters twice a year, but if you have bad ones allergies, change them maybe four times a year. Tapling said.

Replacing the filter is also important as a clogged filter can cause the coil to freeze, which in turn can cause leaks and water build-up, or even bypass parts of the furnace – newer furnaces are more sensitive. to this problem. In addition to changing your filters, consider replacing the humidifier pad which puts moisture into the air passing through the furnace.

It is also recommended to install carbon monoxide detectors to monitor toxic gases emanating from the oven. Carbon monoxide is odorless, so a detector is needed to alert homeowners to its presence. Like filters, detectors are available at home improvement stores.

Also check the vents and PVC pipes for loose connections, holes, or signs of rust, as they can cause gas leaks. A cracked heat exchanger can also leak carbon monoxide.

A professional can help you spot these and other problems. While homeowners can take care of changing humidifier filters and pads and installing carbon monoxide detectors, experts say furnace maintenance is best left to licensed contractors. and insured. During a tune-up, the burners are cleaned and adjusted for proper combustion, thus improving efficiency.

A full professional inspection and tune-up every one or two years can cost anywhere from $ 60 to $ 90, but it pays off by reducing utility bills and maintaining your furnace warranty. Inspections can also sometimes entitle you to a refund from your utility company.

It is also recommended to check the furnace igniter and the thermostat batteries once a year. When no one is home, the thermostat can be adjusted to save energy, but you shouldn’t turn the thermostat more than seven or eight degrees below normal temperatures. Letting your house get too cold will tire the furnace when it tries to heat the house later, wasting energy.

Ovens can last from 15 to 25 years, typically around 20 years, but routine maintenance and regular filter changes can extend their life. If there are burning smells or strange sounds coming from your furnace, there may be a problem. The furnace is running too long or turning on and off repeatedly can be another sign of a problem. The heat exchanger and motor can also wear out with age.

Piwonski said furnace control is especially important for anyone whose basement has collected water during the summer.

“Hoover offers the ability to cross and balance the airflow in the house and seal the ducts so that there are fewer hot and cold spots in the house, while minimizing air loss that will reduce the efficiency of the furnace, ”said Piwonski. “Customers should run their fans if they have a variable-speed furnace, so the air can circulate better around the house. Finally, maintaining a humidity of 35 to 40% in the house will make the house more comfortable, less calls for heat and will also prevent you from allergy problems.

The furnace maintenance business tends to fluctuate with the fortunes of the economy – when the economy is slow and money is tight, more people tend to postpone maintenance. But Tapling said business was stable and that could be due to the increased number of people working from home.

“I would say it’s been the opposite of slow – since our return from the pandemic we’ve only been regularly busy, with little to no downtime,” Tapling said. “I think it has to do with people being more at home, so they don’t procrastinate the problems they raised when they got to work.”

Experts agree that the best time to perform an inspection is when the weather changes, which now makes it a prime time for a review and tune-up.

“A safety inspection should be performed once during the heating season and once during the cooling season,” Piwonski said.

Tapling agreed, adding that “since appointments tend to fill up quickly at these times, we also recommend that you call shortly before each season.”

Hoover Electric Plumbing Heating & Cooling is located at 1871 Woodslee Drive in Troy and can be reached by calling (248) 277-5967. Hoover offers no-dig sewer solutions, same-day repairs at no additional cost, sewer cleaning for $ 89, and furnace or air conditioning safety checks for $ 59.

Aladdin Heating and Cooling is located at 26969 Ryan Road in Warren and can be reached by calling (586) 758-5900. Aladdin also offers boiler maintenance in addition to its other services.


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