LESLIE: Naomi in Illinois is feeling the chill. What’s going on with your furnace?
NAOMI: Well, I wondered how you go about getting a proper furnace cleaning (ph).
TOM: Well, that’s a good question. And first of all, getting a furnace cleaned is a very important thing to do and many people don’t do it. They wrongly assume that if you turn your furnace on and it puts out heat that it’s doing so efficiently and safely. And it may not be the case.
So, to get your furnace cleaned, obviously it’s a job that requires the skills of an HVAC contractor. First of all they’re going to clean the burners because gas burns dirty, just like any other fossil fuel. Like, you know, your car needs a tune-up; your furnace needs a tune-up. So they’re going to clean the burners. They’re going to adjust the air flow to get just the right flame. They’re going to inspect the heat exchanger and that’s very important because the heat exchanger in your furnace is what keeps the combustion air separate from the house air. And if you have a crack in the heat exchanger or you have a rust-out in the heat exchanger, then you could have a mix of combustion air with the house air and that’s a problem because that could lead to a carbon monoxide situation.
TOM: And then, lastly, they’re going to check the draft to make sure that there’s no obstructions in the draft. And that means that all the gas is going up through the furnace and out through the vent pipe or the chimney and it’s going up through your roof and away.
So those are basically what’s involved. They’ll also cleaning out the blower compartment, replace the filters and so on. That’s generally what’s involved in a furnace cleaning.
LESLIE: Tom, is that not something that’s done when you get your heating provider to come in and service the whole system?
TOM: Well yeah, that’s exactly what we’re talking about.
LESLIE: Right, right.
TOM: You know, getting the whole system serviced. But I think Naomi was asking what’s involved and what are the steps and what should be covered. And those are basically the elements. They’ll also be checking gas lines for leaks if it’s a gas system. So that’s everything that’s touched and that’s why it’s a job for a pro. Definitely a job that should be done once a year in the fall and winter because just because your heat comes on doesn’t mean it’s operating safely. And if it’s not operating efficiently, you could be wasting gas or it could be very unsafe and it could hurt you.
LESLIE: And also, Naomi, you should look into who your heating provider is and call them up because generally they’ll offer you a service plan which’ll be, you know, a couple of hundred dollars; usually in the two to three hundred dollar range. And then that covers pretty much any repairs. So generally, if you didn’t have a service plan and you invited them in to come in and service the furnace for the season, they’re going to charge you to walk in the door; they’re going to charge you for any parts that might be required. But with this, you know, fee that you pay for the service charge, they’ll come in; they’ll fix everything. You know, we had something similar happen with the motor on our furnace and they replaced it three times; which would have cost us thousands of dollars but it only cost us 200 bucks.
NAOMI: OK, that’s wonderful.
TOM: Naomi, thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT. 888-666-3974.