September 2009
Keep the Fire Burning

Like any machine, your gas furnace benefits from regular maintenance.

Although you should have your furnace checked and maintained every year by a licensed contractor, you can make a few simple checks for maximum efficiency and savings.

Take a Look

If you have an older type burner furnace:

  • When the furnace isn't running, look through an opening and check the pilot flame (the small flame that burns continuously). It should be blue in color and fairly sharp in shape. If it isn't or seems either too low or too high, have a heating contractor adjust it.
  • When the furnace runs, look at the flames coming out of the burners. They should also be sharp blue. If the flames look yellow or lazy, have a heating contractor to clean the burner or adjust the gas-air ratio.
  • Look at the burners themselves and make sure there is no soot buildup.

On both older burner furnaces and new condenser models:

  • Inspect the exhaust stack pipes for loose connections or corrosion.
  • Inspect the ductwork for leaks. Watch for signs of air movement or run your hand over duct joints. Seal with UL 181 tape and mastic.

Listen Up

  • Listen to your furnace occasionally as it goes through a heating cycle. Make sure the cycle progresses in this order: thermostat calls for heat; burner ignites; fan starts; thermostat is satisfied; burner shuts off; fans stops. If the burner and fan cycle off and on frequently before the thermostat is satisfied, call a contractor.

A Fitting Test

  • Make a solution of water and dishwashing soap and brush on all gas line fittings and connections. If you see bubbles, tighten the fitting and test again.

Clean Sweep

  • Clean the room where the furnace is located. Nearby dirt and dust can be pulled into the burners and cause soot.
  • Replace or clean the furnace filter when it becomes dirty. Your filter may be washable or disposable depending on type.
  • Vacuum supply and return air vents.

Read other articles from The Walton EMC Gasette:
Gas Safety
Plan ahead to stay safe.