“I have a question about furnace tune-ups. You say get one every year – is that really necessary? What do the HVAC guys actually do to the furnace to ‘tune’ it up? There’s no spark plugs to replace like a car tune-up, and my understanding is they basically vacuum out dust and inspect it. Couldn’t the homeowner do this himself? Or do I really need to pay $80-$150 every year for a professional to do it?”

Would you really want your furnace to die on you in a cold, Buffalo January?  Brr!  While it’s not necessary to have your furnace checked on annually, it’s recommended, especially for furnaces over ten years old.  Inspections can help save you a lot of money in the long run: when a furnace stops working, you can get charged “emergency rates” to have it fixed.  And while there is not an industry standard on inspections and tune ups, some inspectors can end up doing a lot for you (see the list below).

  • The vent system needs to be checked for blockage and/or leakage. This includes the outside termination and the connections at and internal to the furnace.
  • Combustion gases must be analyzed and compared to the unit specifications.
  • The blower access door needs to be checked to make sure it makes a tight seal at the furnace.
  • The fresh air intake grills and louvers need to be checked for blockage.
  • The heat exchanger needs to be inspected for rust and corrosion.
  • The burners need to be checked for proper ignition, burner flame and flame sense.
  • The drainage system needs to be checked for blockage and/or leakage. This includes the hoses internal to the furnace. The condensate drain and trap need to be cleaned, and the water replaced in the trap.
  • The blower wheel needs to be checked for debris and cleaned if necessary (this requires complete removal of the blower wheel).
  • An amp-draw test should be conducted on the blower motor and compared with what is listed.
  • The wiring needs to be checked for corrosion and damage.
  • The filters need to be checked (but this needs to be done much more frequently than annually).

And while you could do some of this work on your own, how much do you really know about furnaces?  It’s better to make an investment in a furnace “check up” than having to send it to the emergency room.