Time for a Fall Furnace Checkup

With the crisp days of fall approaching, many homeowners will be cranking up their furnaces for the first time since the spring thaw. Taking the time to do a thorough checkup first can save as much as 10% on heating costs this year, according to The Iowa Energy Center.

Most people only call a repairman when their system breaks down, but a qualified heating service technician can test and tuneup your heating system for $50 to $100. This nominal fee can insure that your system will run safely and efficiently all season.

The following services should be included in a check up:

Combustion Efficiency Testing

Flue temperature, percentage of carbon dioxide or oxygen, and draft measurements will determine whether your furnace is working efficiently. Additional testing for gas systems include smoke number and carbon monoxide levels. Performing these tests and making necessary adjustments will keep you safe from carbon monoxide poisoning and make sure your heat is not going up the chimney instead of heating your home.

Parts Cleaning

A preventive service call should include cleaning the burners, combustion chamber and heat exchanger surfaces. Filters should also be cleaned, oiled or replaced.


Air flow rate, fuel flow and internal thermostat calibration should be tested and tweaked for optimum operation.

There are also a number of maintenance steps you can do yourself to insure a safe, warm winter in your home.

Clean the registers and make sure they are free of foreign objects. Clean the registers with a damp cloth and remove dust and object that might have fallen onto the heating ducts. Make sure furniture, rugs and drapery do not block the registers.

Turn the thermostat down. Maintaining the thermostat at 65 to 68 degrees and turning it down at night and when you are not home can save an additional 10% in costs. That’s a $100 savings for every $1,000 in heating bills.

Set the fan properly. If the fan is set too high, shuts off too soon or comes on too early, warm air which should be circulating through your house will be lost up the flue.

Close air vents in unused rooms. Most air registers have a damper that allows the vent to be restricted or closed completely. Don’t waste money heating rooms no one is using regularly.

You can find additional information for reducing energy consumption and making your system safer and more efficient at the National Furnace Council’s website www.nationalfurnace.com.

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