One of the most important things you can do for your furnace is to schedule a regular maintenance. At Bell Brothers, we make sure to check every part of your furnace with our 18-point furnace tune-up. Though we talk about tune-ups a lot, we never go into what’s really included when you schedule a tune-up and professional cleaning.
There are three main parts when we perform your furnace tune-up
: inspection, cleaning, and testing and measuring. Our techs go through each of these points for one big reason: safety. We want to ensure the safety of your home, your family, and your HVAC system. After a tune-up, your tech will let you know if any parts need to be repaired or replaced, as well as providing you with an overall system evaluation.
Furnace Tune-Up, Inspect:
- The heat exchanger is an integral part of any furnace because it moves heat between two different fluids or gasses. An example of this is natural gas and ambient air. This works because the heat exchanger has two holes. One at the bottom and one at the top. The furnace’s burner will generate combustion gas and send that into the first hole. At the same time, outdoor air is pulled over the top of the heat exchanger. The outdoor air is heated by the combustion gas in the chamber and that warm air goes through an air filter and into your home.
Don’t forget about the second opening. After the air is warm and sent to your home, the heat exchanger will push any harmful gasses through the bottom hole where they will then go into a flue pipe. The flue pipe releases the gasses outside of your home, ensuring no one in your family breathes in the toxic chemicals.
During a tune-up, one of the most important things we check is your heat exchanger. Our techs will make sure it’s safely transferring and disposing of any gasses. A heat exchanger can have small hairline cracks and safely do its job. However, it’s a techs responsibility to let you know the condition of the heat exchanger and if any cracks could lead to an unsafe working condition.
Duct Supply and Return
- Supply and return vents are one of the first things a Bell Brothers tech will inspect in your home. These vents are often located by your baseboards or on your ceiling.
A tech will first ask you to turn on your thermostat and then wait for the HVAC system to boot up and start circulating air. They will then take a temperature reading at each supply and return to make sure the there is a proper temperature ratio between each vent.
Combustible Material Around the Furnace
- The thing about furnaces is that they’re generally found in places that double as home storage. Think garages, utility closest, attics, or basements. We often see too many homeowners storing boxes and other items too close to the furnace.
To work properly, your furnace needs to breathe. We recommend leaving at least 3 feet between your furnace and any boxes or storage items. If your furnace doesn’t have the proper ventilation it could lead to the premature failure of your HVAC system.
During a tune-up, our techs will make sure there is enough room between your furnace and anything around it. If there isn’t enough room, they’ll let you know what needs to be moved.
Furnace Tune-Up, Clean:
- When we get to your furnace, we’ll check for any dust, debris, or other accumulation on the exterior of the unit. All our techs are equipped with a vacuum to clean your furnace and restore it as best as possible to factory level cleanliness.
- A furnace can’t warm air without a fire. And the burner compartment is where this happens. In here, gas is allowed to mix freely with oxygen which leads to the warm air that keeps your home cozy all winter long.
While checking the burner compartment, we will take out the entire piece and thoroughly clean it. Modern burner compartments are packed with safety features that can be triggered by something as small as a spider web. This is why our technicians make sure to clean every part of the burner compartment. We want our clients to know all their burners are safely working with not so much as a web in the way.
Filter Standard 1” (wash or replace)
- Taking care of your air filter is one of the best things you can do for your HVAC system. During a furnace tune-up we will change or wash your filter depending on what type you have. The standard filter we supply our techs with is a washable 1” filter. They will take out the filter, wash it, wait for it to completely dry, and put it back in.
We’re also here to help if you have a specialized air filter you want to use. Make sure you tell your tech what filter you have. They will be sure to properly install it during the tune-up if supplied.
- If you like warm air coursing through your home, thank the blower motor. When treated air is warmed and ready to go, the blower motor will send all that warm air through the air filter, through the ductwork, and into your home.
During a tune-up, our techs will physically remove the entire blower assembly. They will take it outside and wash it out with a hose and cleaning liquid. This is done because all HVAC units attract dust. Even with a high quality air filter, fine dust particles can settle on the blower wheel and cause it to go out of balance.
A standard HVAC unit can move up to 9,000 pounds of air per hour. That air, especially if the unit is in an attic, has a lot of dust in it. A blower wheel that’s out of balance will send all that dust—some of it too fine to be caught by almost any air filter—back into your home. We want the air in your home to be as healthy as possible. That’s why we take every step to ensure the cleanliness of your system.
Furnace Tune-Up, Test and Measure:
- Electrical Wiring
- In addition to natural gas, your furnace needs electricity to run correctly. Constant movement and vibration can cause the electric wiring in your HVAC system to come loose or be knocked out of place.
For the safety of your unit, our techs will look at all the electrical connections and make sure they’re in good, working order. If they come across anything that needs a fix, we do it on the spot. A loose connection can create resistance, which converts to heat, which converts to unsafe operation in the long term.
- There’s a reason carbon monoxide is called the “silent killer.” This odorless gas can leak from your furnace and cause a whole mess of health issues for anyone living in your home. To make sure this doesn’t happen, our techs use incredibly sensitive calibrated carbon monoxide detectors. There is no such thing as a “safe” amount of carbon monoxide, and we will do everything we can to prevent any leaks.
- Remember above when we mentioned turning on the thermostat, we also do this to take a diagnostic of your thermostat. If a thermostat is hung in the wrong place or has weak batteries, it can cause a huge number of problems.
Exhaust System Venting
- The thing about central heating systems is that they emit exhaust. And all that exhaust needs to go somewhere. The way exhaust safely makes it out of your home is with a flue pipe. An issue we constantly run into is that other contractors don’t always know what a flue pipe is and end up disconnecting it.
When we service first-time customers, we see a lot of collapsed flue pipes. This wouldn’t be a big deal if all the ducting is sealed. However, about 50-60% of ducting has very small leaks that could let these harmful gasses into a home’s air supply.
Ignition System Operation
- Pilot lights can create a lot of buildup. Over time, the buildup can grow so much that it affects how the system lights a flame. We like to make sure that area is clean, so it ignites every time.
Combustion Gas Leakage
- Gas leaks can lead to major problems. Our techs make sure to inspect every inch of the gas line when preforming a tune-up. They also check every fitting at the furnace and water heater to make as well. Your HVAC system will never alert you if there is a gas leak. That’s one of the many reasons its so important to schedule yearly maintenance on your furnace.
Measure and Adjust Gas Pressure
- Along with gas leakage, we make sure to measure and adjust the gas pressure. Most furnaces are equipped with a water column. Through this column we evaluate the gas pressure by measuring the atmospheric pressure of this column.
For every unit, an engineer who designed this specific furnace will give it a numerical rating. If the gas pressure is above or below the assigned number ranking, our techs will adjust the line until it’s at an optimal pressure point.
If a gas pressure line is not at it’s proper rating, it will overheat any metal in your system. Which could lead to premature furnace failure.
Secondary Motor Control Operation
- The secondary motor control operation keeps the furnace’s motor always moving at a controlled speed. If the secondary motor control is malfunctioning, the heater motor will move faster than it should. This could cause the whole system to overheat and even wear out the motor before its time is up.
Safety and Control Circuits Operation
- One thing that truly makes modern HVAC systems stand out are their safety features. Perhaps, the most important sensor is in the center of where the actual flames are. If something ever gets sucked into this area or the coil gets dirty, the whole system will shut down because the safety control found the machine to be operating under “unsafe” conditions.
If a furnace can’t properly ignite, which could lead to a release of gas and other harmful contaminates, a safety sensor shuts everything down. Our guys like to call this little sensor a “lifesaver” because it could literally save your life.
Blower Motor Amperage and Voltage
- Your blower motor works directly with the blower assembly we talked about earlier. Because the blower assembly and motor are such important parts of the system, we take special care to make sure it’s running at peak efficiency.
Every blower motor has a predesignated maximum amperage and voltage. Once the motor exceeds that maximum it’s time to replace the motor. If the motor is not functioning properly the system can create heat, but with a potentially unsafe operation. Homeowners can choose to replace the blower motor; this is how they can get ahead of replacing the entire unit.
Temperature Difference at Supply and Return
- Testing the duct supply and blower motor is something we cover during the inspection phase as well as the test and measure phase. Our techs initially inspect the returns to make sure they are receiving and distributing air.
Another thing we need to do is make sure they are running at the proper temperature ratios. There should be a 30 – 60 degree temperature rise between the supply and return vent. If the return vent has a temperature that is 60 degree or higher than the supply vent, we know that’s a problem and can investigate it further.
If we do see a large difference, one thing we will do to try and fix it is to check the gas pressure or fan speed. We want to make sure everything is at a proper temperature because if anything overheats, it’ll shorten the life of your system. We preform tune-ups to elongate the life of your furnace and AC.
Ready to Schedule Your Own Thorough Furnace Tune-Up?
If you’re in our service areas of Sacramento, Stockton, Vacaville, or the Bay Area, simply call the number at the top of the screen. Or click here to book an appointment online
. Your safety is our number one priority. Ensure the safety of your system and your home by making sure to schedule HVAC maintenance twice per year. Once before furnace season and once before AC season. Regular tune-ups are also the best way to make sure your HVAC system maintains a healthy lifespan.