Top 4 Reasons to Inspect Your Gas Furnace Yearly

As the days become shorter and the weather cooler, you may be ready to turn on the heat in your home.  It may not be cold for long in the Houston area, but the temperature extremes can fluctuate between warm and cold when cold fronts or “blue northers” head this direction. They can drop the temperature 20-30 degrees in just a few hours.  Many of the central air conditioning and heating systems in the Houston, Texas area consist of a natural gas-powered, forced-air furnace paired with a central-air conditioning system. When you turn your thermostat to the heat setting, it activates your furnace to fire up when the temperature drops.  The furnace heats up the air and blows it throughout your home’s ducts to keep you warm. The fall is the perfect time to have your gas-powered furnace or heater inspected so that it functions reliably in the cooler months. Here are four reasons why having your gas furnace checked and maintained is such a critical step!

Safety concerns and proper ventilation

Because gas-powered furnaces generate warmth by burning fuel, they have safety issues that require regular inspections for their proper operation and your peace of mind. One of the most important things we check is whether your furnace has proper ventilation. This ensures that carbon monoxide (CO) and other byproducts of combustion cannot build up in the home. Carbon monoxide, an odorless gas produced when fuel is burned, can cause carbon monoxide poisoning if it accumulates in large amounts in your home. It can be fatal. New homes require carbon monoxide detectors for this reason, and we recommend them for your safety, too. If you ever hear that detector go off, call 911 immediately and leave your home. Newer furnaces have a vent safety feature that can confirm that flue gasses, the byproducts of combustion, are removed from the home and not accidentally blown back in when the wind changes.

The risk of your furnace overheating

A furnace that is not operating properly or that has a clogged air intake can overheat. Over time, a furnace that is working harder to heat will run longer, causing the furnace to run hotter than it should. If this is not addressed, it can become dangerous and cause your heating system to malfunction, stop, or cause a fire. All furnaces have an upper limit safety which shuts down a furnace in the event that it gets too hot; we tend to find those safety features to be less reliable in old equipment (20 years+). One way to prevent this is by making sure your air filters are changed regularly. Sometimes your furnace may have a filter to replace in addition to the air filters located in your return air vents in your home. If you are not sure, ask your technician. We also advise our customers to have a working smoke detector that is checked regularly as an additional safeguard.

Identification of older, inefficient furnaces

If your home’s furnace is 15 years or older, you might have what is called a natural draft or gravity furnace instead of a forced-air furnace that is common today. This type of gas-powered furnace was commonly installed in the early 1990s and earlier. It was an economical choice and heat was distributed naturally as hot air rises. These units were phased out because they were inefficient (60-70%), requiring  the furnace to burn much more fuel to heat a room. Compare that with forced-air furnaces that can range from 80% to 98.5% efficiency and you can see right away that a newer furnace will start saving money immediately. The old-style gravity furnaces, such as those made by Magic Chef, Consolidated, and Ducane, also lack extra protections related to how carbon monoxide and other combustion by-products are vented outside the home, which make them less safe than newer models today. This is why we typically recommend scheduling their replacement.

Catching problems while they are easy to fix

Scheduling a heater check for regular inspection and maintenance of your gas-fired furnace is an investment in the longevity of your HVAC system. Well-maintained heaters can last 20 years or more, especially if you take care of them year after year. Our heater performance check encompasses a full checklist to make sure that we monitor normal wear and tear and identify any potential issues before they become a major repair. The last thing you need is a furnace breakdown in the middle of winter on a weekend.

Solutions to Keep You Warm During Winter

Maintaining your furnace properly will keep it running many years into the future and reduce the chances of unexpected breakdowns. Give Terry’s A/C and Heating a call at 281-495-7830 to get on our schedule for an inspection/repair or furnace installation, and we’ll be happy to swing by to make sure your furnace is working properly and answer any other question you might have about keeping your home or office toasty all season long. We serve customers throughout Southwest and West Houston, Katy, Sugar Land, Fulshear, Richmond, Missouri City, and surrounding areas.