opening american standard furnace

Colorado’s weather is known for being somewhat of a seesaw, especially during the shoulder seasons. Even though we may have 70+ degree fall days, we know the cold and snow could happen any day that follows. When it’s time to fire up your furnace and heat your home, you want it to be ready to go without issue.

A NATE certified furnace technician can perform an evaluation and tune-up of a furnace to ensure all is working properly and ready to carry you through the winter. A furnace tune-up is recommended once a year by most all furnace manufacturers. This is because yearly checks are one of the conditions listed and approved for homeowners’ insurance.

The Most Common Question About Furnaces

Many people ask, “why do I smell burning when our furnace is first turned on in the fall?”.

That burning smell is dust and human dander that has collected over the summer on the heat exchanger in the furnace. Most furnace filters just aren’t meant to work with super fine particulates. This is a common smell and it’s perfectly ok to smell it for about 30 minutes after first turning on the furnace. If it bothers you, there are better, finer filters that may help.  

Ten Technician Tasks on a Furnace Tune-up List

1. Check Thermostat Battery. It’s a simple thing, but we always check the thermostat battery to make sure the homeowner won’t be surprised by a furnace not coming on in the winter due to the thermostat not sending the signal.

2. Check Furnace Filter. Furnaces are all about air flow and a dirty filter will greatly impede air flow and impact overall performance. Filters should be checked or changed monthly while the unit is in use, as recommended by manufacturers. Our technicians will let the homeowner know if the filter needs to be replaced.

3. Observe Overall Condition and Vents. A trained technician knows what to look for and will visually inspect the furnace and connected vents for any issues.

4. Clean the Flame Sensing Rod. We will clean this whether it needs it or not. It is the most common failure on modern furnaces.

5. Smell for Gas Leaks. Your technician will smell for gas leaks on and around the gas valve and around the furnace in general. Gas valves can leak. Furnaces can move and shake went they run, so they can end up shaking that valve loose to the point where it leaks. This isn’t typical, but it can happen. If a technician smells any gas, they will use a special tool to identify where the leak is coming from.

6. Check the Integrity of the Igniter. The technician will check for resistance on the igniter. If there is no resistance, it’s broken. Igniters have a specific resistance they should maintain. Modern igniters may never need to be replaced. But if you forget to change the filter, or if your system is too big for the house and overheats, the igniter will wear out faster.

7. Check Amp Draws. Amp draws demonstrate if the system is reliable. The amp draws are checked with an amp meter and are compared to what is rated by the manufacturer. If the draws are high, the motor is working really hard to do its job. Something could be making it hard for it to spin; an item could be jammed in the motor, or a bearing could be going out. This makes the motor run hot, and heat is the enemy of any motor.

8. Visual Inspection of Heat Exchanger. The effort involved in this is determined by the age of the furnace. If it’s a newer furnace by a reputable manufacturer, we won’t need to investigate the heat exchanger too much. If it’s an older furnace or made by a manufacturer that has been known to have issues with the heat exchanger on their units, we will inspect it thoroughly.

9. Check Furnace Balance. Imbalance can cause many issues. Does it shake and shimmy when running? Shaking can cause wires to fall off and valves to leak. It’s not normal for a furnace to shake and jump. If the balance is not restored, it will mean a bigger, expensive fix down the road. What can cause an imbalance? Sometimes it’s something small that got sucked up into the motor. 

10. Check the Heat Exchanger. Specifically, the technician will check the temperature rise across the heat exchanger to ensure it’s within range.

As with many things, and ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. If you keep up with furnace tune-ups, filter changes, and take care of any issues right away, your furnace will perform well for you for many years.

Need a furnace tune-up in the Littleton or Denver area?

Learn More About Furnace Repair and Maintenance or Contact Us at 720-231-0671.