Servicing Your Furnace
The convenience of a comfortable climate is worth its weight in gold, so it's important to maintain your furnace regularly.
Before you service your furnace, know which system you have. Here are some definitions and explanations to help you:
Warm Air Furnace: Warm air furnaces using gas, oil, or electricity power are common. A blower motor forces air through a heat exchanger and filter. Once the circulated air reaches a predetermined temperature (set by the thermostat), the blower shuts off.
Forced Air System: Forced air systems heat uniformly to the 110-degree range. A well-designed forced air system will feature outside ducts, as well as high and low adjustable supply registers and a return register in each home.
Combustion Air System: The combustion air system is one by which oxygen is delivered and gases are removed from the furnace in order to produce heat. It is vital that technicians check everything on these systems, since a furnace of this type can produce carbon monoxide if working improperly.
Regardless of the type of heating system you have, some maintenance procedures are universal. The following pointers may help you service whatever heating system you have, even between service check-ups:
1. Check the draft hood above the opening in the furnace for discoloration, soot, peeling paint, hair, dust or cobwebs.
2. Check the flue, the metal pipe that extends from the furnace to the chimney or vent, for deterioration.
3. Check the chimney for blockage. If your eyes tear or your throat burns when the furnace is on, call for help. Your vents may be blocked. Also, be sure to check for broken or crumbled mortar or bricks.
4. If you see an oil cap when you check your furnace, be sure to keep it oiled. Just lift the cover and add a few drops of oil occasionally. Check the belt, too, which is inexpensive and easy to replace.
Safety Concerns: Make sure your floor is dry. Standing water on the floor near your unit is trouble. Never store things near your heater, especially combustible items. A pilot or gas burner producing a steady yellow flame (indicating improper combustion) may require a contractor for adjustment; occasional orange-yellow or red streaks in a flame are normal. Understand the signs of carbon monoxide poisoning (headache, tightness in the chest, watering and burning eyes, weariness, weakness, dizziness, vomiting, loss of muscular control) and call for help if you experience any.