As a favorite HVAC business in Albuquerque, we certainly get many calls for furnace repairs and replacements. We wish everyone knew, though, that you can prevent many of these repair calls with regular maintenance.
Just like a car that needs an oil change every couple thousand miles, an HVAC system operates most effectively when it has regular maintenance. Bosque Heating, Cooling & Plumbing owner Carlos Griego explained,
“Life expectancy of a furnace is anywhere from 12 to 15 years with regular maintenance. It’s no different than your car. Just because you buy a car with a 100,000 mile warranty on it—if you never change the oil, the warranty doesn’t apply. So if you have a furnace you’ve never maintained before in your life do you think you will get 12 to 15 years out of it? Probably not.”
That’s why we encourage all of our clients to schedule a fall and spring maintenance visit—both to get the most mileage out of their HVAC system and to make sure their families are safe. In this blog post, we will fill you in on what exactly happens at a fall maintenance visit and why it’s so beneficial.
1) Shut Down and Review Cooling System
At a fall maintenance appointment, our team members turn off and shut down your cooling system for the season. They will also inspect the cooling system and ensure that everything looks okay.
On top of that, it’s the perfect time to review how the system treated you over the summer. Did you have any rooms you had particular trouble cooling down? Were there any spots that were too cool? Our technician will ask you questions to help you identify any trouble spots we can help you with.
2) Replace the Furnace Filter
Once we get into the furnace, one of the first things we do is replace the filter. This is necessary to keep the air clean in your home. The filter prevents dust, dirt, mold spores, soot, bacteria, and allergens from entering the air inside your home.
Of course, you can replace the filter on your own, and we recommend you do at least every three months—or even more frequently in the winter when your furnace working harder. But while we are at your home for a maintenance visit, we will replace it for you.
3) Inspect and Clean Various Parts of the Furnace
There are a few key parts of furnaces that need to be cleaned regularly to help your furnace’s longevity. And keeping these parts clean also does wonders for preventing major furnace breakdowns. We start by inspecting and cleaning the blower and the blower wheel. If the blower wheel gets clogged with dirt and grime gets thrown off balance, which can break the blower wheel or even burn out the motor. Griego shared,
“The reason for inspecting the blower and the blower wheel is it only takes basically a 16th to an 8th of an inch [of dust] to throw a blower wheel off of balance… [if] that thing’s completely out of balance, that’s how they go bad. So the guys want to make sure that that’s clean and there’s no issues because [when it’s out of balance], then it’s going to either spin out of balance and break or cause the motor to go out.”
We also inspect the firebox and ignition system to make sure everything is operating correctly and clean it. For older furnaces with a standing pilot, our technician checks the thermal couple and replace it if needed.
For newer furnaces, the technician will inspect the burner assembly and make sure to clean the flame sensing rod. This rod exists on newer furnaces to test if the hot surface igniter has, in fact, started a flame. If the rod gets too much carbon build-up, it won’t properly detect whether or not there is a flame, which prevents your furnace from turning on.
These flame sensing rods are very sensitive and prone to abrasions. So, believe it or not, our technicians rub off any build-up with a dollar bill! This is actually the prescribed method of cleaning by manufacturers because the bill’s texture is just right for removing the carbon build-up.
4) Perform a Carbon Monoxide Test
Testing for carbon monoxide may be one of the most important pieces of a fall maintenance visit because it ensures the safety of your home. Sure, you probably have carbon monoxide detectors in your home. But the devices you get from the hardware store are nothing compared to our professional-grade measuring devices. And our devices are calibrated every year, which is probably not something you could say about your home carbon monoxide detector. Griego described,
“Those carbon monoxide detectors [in your home], they’re good, but they go off when levels are very high and lethal. They’re not going to go off when you’re getting headaches and you just kind of feel nauseous and don’t feel good. They’re going to start to go off when… you need to get out of the room, just like a fire detector or smoke detector.”
Of course, we don’t bring this up as a scare tactic. We just want our customers to know the danger of carbon monoxide is real and preventative measures like regular furnace maintenance go a long way when it comes to your health. Also, everyone knows about death by carbon monoxide. But, lower levels of carbon monoxide can lead to minor health concerns like headaches as well.
At your fall maintenance appointment, our technicians measure the carbon monoxide levels in the flue itself. We make sure the levels are within a safe range. And, if we detect more carbon monoxide than safe levels, we address it right away with the homeowner.
Increased carbon monoxide is a sign that a furnace is burning dirty, and it tends to happen towards the end of a furnace’s life. So at a maintenance appointment, we verify how old your furnace is, so if it’s getting closed to the end of its life, you can start preparing to replace it.
*Regions and Regular HVAC Maintenance
If you’re reading this and wishing someone would have told you sooner about the need for regular furnace maintenance, you’re not alone. For whatever reason, maintenance programs tend not to be very popular here in New Mexico.
What we can tell you is that in other parts of the country, it’s very commonplace. In the Midwest and also on the West Coast, homeowners rely on semi-annual HVAC maintenance.
Perhaps we can chalk it up to the “do-it-yourself” attitude people have in New Mexico. We are independent, handy, and self-reliant. These are all great qualities and what makes our state a place of innovation. But when it comes to HVAC, we really do recommend calling on us professionals!
You might be wondering why you can’t take care of it yourself. But how would you ever have known to clean a flame sensing rod with a dollar bill? Or would you want to purchase the costly professional carbon monoxide testing equipment we have? Our team members are highly trained and know exactly what to look for and what steps to take to keep your furnace running optimally.
Schedule Your Albuquerque HVAC Maintenance Appt Today!
If you want to extend your furnace’s life, it’s essential to schedule regular HVAC maintenance appointments in the fall and spring. We hope you can see we are passionate about providing quality services to our customers and educating them on their best options for their home. Please contact us today to set up a fall maintenance appointment or learn more!