Wintertime Furnace Maintenance Important for Safety and Efficiency

Wintertime Furnace Maintenance Important for Safety and Efficiency

(LARA – MI Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs, Dec. 6, 2016)

As the weather has turned colder, now is the best time for an inspection and tune up of your home heating system by a properly licensed mechanical contractor to make sure your system is operating safely and efficiently to keep you and your family warm all season.

“Preventive, routine maintenance extends the life of your furnace so it doesn’t use more energy to keep you warm,” said Bureau of Construction Codes Director Keith Lambert. “Take care of minor problems before they develop into major repair or replacement issues.”

Lambert explained how regular and thorough furnace maintenance can yield several important benefits. Improved performance of the furnace means better comfort and it is also more cost effective. Replacing defective parts avoids placing stress on other components which can drive up repair costs and eventually take a toll on the entire heating system.

A good maintenance check should include inspection, testing and calibration of safety controls; lubrication of motors; measurement of carbon monoxide levels; inspection of gas lines and flue pipe for leakage; testing and calibration of thermostats; and cleaning or replacing air filters. A thorough annual inspection of chimney flues and vents is also recommended to ensure proper ventilation when the heating system is operating.

Additional tips include:

Clean cold air returns with a household vacuum cleaner.

Check the filter once a month and replace it if necessary to maintain efficiency and prolong the life of the furnace.

Have the furnace professionally cleaned by a reputable, licensed, mechanical contractor at least every two years.

Check the warranty on your system to see whether any repairs or replacements are covered. Remember that many heating systems come with long-term warranties.

Hire a mechanical contractor who:

o   is insured for liability and property damage

o   offers warranties that cover equipment, materials and labor

o   offers maintenance and service after installation and after warranties have expired

o   provides local customer references

Ask to see the Michigan mechanical contractor’s license and write down the contractor’s name and license number listed on it. Confirm the contractor is insured.

Verify that the license is valid and issued for the proper classifications for the type of work being performed. To check on a license, visit the bureau’s website at https://aca3.accela.com/lara/ or contact the Bureau of Construction Code’s Licensing Division at lara-bcc-licensing@michigan.gov or (517) 241-9316.

Get at least three written estimates for the work especially if a furnace replacement is recommended. Make sure all bids give a full description of the services and materials to be used. If you do sign a contract for work, you may want to consider negotiating that final payment is made after the mandatory inspection is approved by the mechanical code enforcing agency.

To ensure safety while your heating system is “on” make sure your smoke alarms and carbon monoxide (CO) detectors are in good working condition; check batteries and test each unit. Carbon monoxide, an odorless, colorless and tasteless gas, can come from inadequately burned and vented fuel sources, including water heaters, furnaces, ranges and stoves, clothes dryers, fireplaces and portable generators. Also, keep the area around your furnace, boiler and water heater clear of any flammable liquids or other combustibles.

If using portable or space heaters as an additional heating source, do so with caution. Portable heaters can be dangerous if not properly used according to the manufacturer’s recommended safety instructions. Keep any type of combustibles away from the heating element of portable heaters.

 

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