Don’t Fall for Rip-Off Furnace Maintenance-Like I Did!

Ugh! I just hate when this happens. I try to be a good homeowner and instead I get totally ripped-off.

Last winter our heater broke down. When the repair guy came out he found that dirt had built up and caused some part to fail. He recommended that we get the furnace cleaned at the start of every season. So this year I called the same repair company and asked them to take care of the annual cleaning. BIG MISTAKE.

I had to wait around an entire day for them to show up since they kept calling and saying they were running behind. When they did come, one of the guys was in training. So while they were in my basement the trainer had to explain everything to the trainee. They were at my house for an hour and in the end they did nothing! They did recommend a cleaning and some (what I determine as) unnecessary rewiring. They wanted to charge another $130 to clean the system on top of their $80–what I thought was a cleaning, but wasn’t actually just to turn the thing on and check for trouble–and another $235 for rewiring that didn’t make any sense.

Okay I should have known better. It’s not that hard to clean your own furnace. I’m busy and don’t like cleaning very much. I was willing to pay a little to have someone else clean it–not to turn it on. I can handle turning it on.

Anyway, learn from my lesson and clean your own furnace–as I will be. Here’s how:

You’ll need:
vacuum
toothbrush
cotton swabs
toothpicks
dry brush
rags

Get to it:
1. Cut the power to your furnace by shutting off the breaker switch. Remove the front safety panel from your furnace. In gas and oil furnaces, the pilot light and fuel supply should be shut off for safety.
2. Vacuum the interior area. Use caution, do not displace any wiring. Use an old toothbrush to carefully remove grime and dust build-up. Vacuum the area a second time.
3. Clean the furnace’s blower assembly thoroughly, using a toothbrush, toothpicks and cotton swabs. Remove build-up from all surfaces of the assembly, paying special attention to the blower fins. In some furnaces, a blower cover must be removed to access the fan assembly. Vacuum again.
4. Use a large, dry scrub brush to clean all vents. Pull off the furnace filters and replace if needed. Vacuum permanent filters then use the scrub brush to remove build-up. Vacuum yet again.
5. Put the furnace back together. Replace filters, and any safety covers (except the front panel) you have removed. Look for loose connections and signs of corrosion. Check for worn or melted wiring. If everything is in order, re-connect the furnace and turn it on.
6. Allow the furnace to run for several minutes to check for unusual sounds or smells. Disturbed dust commonly makes a crackling noise, which should stop after a few minutes. If you smell burning gas, oil or electrical wiring, shut down the furnace immediately and call in a professional.
7. Replace the front panel when you feel everything is running smoothly and safely.

Remember to change your disposable filter frequently-once per month.

And know this: A furnace that is not running at peak performance can be deadly. Every gas furnace produces some carbon monoxide. It is then carried throughout your home’s ventilation system. A clean efficient furnace produces slight amounts of carbon monoxide, a dirty furnace can produce deadly amounts. Carbon monoxide is colorless and odorless. It can cause flu like symptoms, disorientation, confusion and even death.

If you learn better by seeing than reading here’s a video for you.

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