To save some money on heating costs, you've learned how to perform preventative maintenance on your furnace. You can replace your air filter, clean dust and debris from your combustion chamber, and even clean your air ducts. Even though you're experienced and knowledgeable when it comes to the ins and outs your furnace, there are still a few tasks that should be left to your HVAC technician. Read more and hire your technician to perform these maintenance tasks for your furnace:
Fan Wheel and Blower Motor Cleaning
Although your air filter traps most of the airborne debris inside your home, particles of dust, pet hair, and other debris will still manage to slip through unsealed parts of your furnace housing. When debris manages to bypass your filter, it settles on your blower's fan wheel—the large, bladed wheel that creates the airflow needed to ventilate your furnace's heat production.
When debris collects on your fan wheel's blades, it will create an airflow restriction. The buildup on your fan wheel will reduce the amount of air that can pass through the blades of your fan wheel and into your furnace. Additionally, loose debris will launch off your fan wheel and enter your furnace's combustion chamber—which will only increase your chances of experiencing a furnace fire.
Although it may be possible for you to clean your fan wheel, you shouldn't attempt to do so. Prior to cleaning, your fan wheel and blower motor assembly must be disconnected from your furnace's electrical system. If you didn't personally install your furnace, then you're likely to electrocute yourself or damage an essential electrical connection between your furnace and blower motor while attempting to prepare your blower assembly for cleaning.
Additionally, once your blower assembly is removed from your furnace housing, it must be dismantled before you can gain access to your fan wheel. Dismantling your blower assembly by yourself can easily lead to accidental damage.
Unfortunately, soot is a natural by-product of gas combustion. Most of the soot produced by your furnace accumulates on the components of your burner assembly—specifically, on your burner tubes. However, your burner tubes are responsible for delivering gas to your furnace. When your burner tubes are covered in soot, the entire supply of gas being delivered to your furnace won't be ignited. As a result, your furnace's heat production will be reduced, and unspent fuel can accumulate in your home.
There isn't a significant amount of labor needed to clean your burner tubes. However, specific knowledge of how to remove and reinstall your burners is required to perform the job correctly. Even if you manage to remove your burner tubes successfully, you must still reinstall your tubes in their original position—otherwise, the mixture of gas and air inside your combustion chamber will be affected.
Additionally, scrubbing or blowing soot off your burner tubes releases dangerous particles into the air. Without a properly rated respirator, you risk inhaling soot particles and irritating your respiratory system.
Your thermocouple is a vital safety component of your furnace. While your furnace is active, your thermocouple reads the temperature of your burner assembly through an electric current. If your thermocouple detects that your burner assembly is operating below a specific temperature range (which typically means that it's not igniting the gas being supplied to your furnace), then it will cut off the gas supply and shut down your furnace.
Since your thermocouple is made from metal, it's susceptible to metal fatigue. Metal fatigue occurs when your thermocouple is heated and cooled thousands of times. Each time your furnace is activated, your thermocouple becomes hot and expands. When your furnace deactivates, your thermocouple cools and contracts. These variations in size slowly wear away at any weak points along your thermocouple and will eventually cause it to fail.
When your thermocouple malfunctions or fails, it will no longer monitor the temperature of your burner assembly during operation. Instead, your thermocouple will either prevent your furnace from activating at all or allow your burner assembly to continue operating even with incomplete gas combustion. If your thermocouple allows your furnace to operate without complete gas combustion, then unspent gas can build up in your home and cause an explosion.
Due to the importance of proper blower assembly cleaning, burner tube cleaning, and thermocouple functionality, these three maintenance tasks should always be left to your professional HVAC technician. If you suspect that your furnace requires one or more of these repairs, then contact your local technician immediately.
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