Experts say now is the time for a yearly furnace check

By: Kristyne E. Demske, | St. Clair Shores Sentinel | Published October 11, 2017

METRO DETROIT — Although Mother Nature can’t seem to make up her mind as to whether the furnace or air conditioning is needed on any given day, the fact remains that as the calendar counts down to winter, more and more residents will need to switch on their heat.

But will it work?

Heating and cooling experts all recommend an annual check of the furnace to make sure a professional can catch any problems before the outside thermometer dips.

“It is important, every year, to get your furnace checked. It lowers your utility bills. ... Cleaning the parts, they run better,” said Nick Guadagnino, of Tru-Air Heating and Cooling in St. Clair Shores. 

He said every furnace manufacturer recommends yearly maintenance, and the checkup also serves as a safety measure to make sure the furnace isn’t putting out carbon monoxide.

“If you’re not getting the maintenance done, or they’re getting older, the motors might start failing,” Guadagnino said.

He said prices for yearly maintenance checks are fairly reasonable and sometimes can also qualify the resident for a rebate from their utility company. 

“You usually want to do it in the fall before it starts getting cold, because if there is a problem, you’re going to get charged a service call,” he said. 

“Every year, things change. There’s more wear and tear on the furnace,” said Dan Turowski, owner of Aladdin Heating and Cooling in Warren and Lake Orion. “We test all the safeties. We inspect the heat exchanger for any cracks. We make sure they’re safe going into the winter season.”

He said that residents might not know their furnace has a cracked heat exchange without an inspection.

“They could be leaking carbon monoxide and, because it’s odorless, you won’t know,” Turowski said. 

Residents should change their furnace filters every one to six months, depending on if they are 1-inch filters or box filters, he said. 

“If a furnace gets clogged, it can restrict the airflow and start causing motor damage or heat exchanger damage. If you do change your filter regularly and have preventative maintenance done, you hopefully will prolong the life of your furnace,” Turowski said. 

Residents can expect their furnace to last 15-25 years, with “the sweet spot” around 20 years, he said. 

“We’re just making sure the machine is safe,” he said. 

Lee Deel, owner of Briarwood Heating and Cooling in Rochester Hills, agreed that the yearly check is all about prevention.

“There’s a lot of things that cause a furnace to have no heat,” he said. “We’re also checking the humidifier — checking that’s working properly. If you maintain proper humidity in the house, that will make you more comfortable. 

“We’re trying to prevent things.”

Deel said they can also check to see how much energy the furnace is using. 

Other indicators of furnace problems include burning smells, odd noises, or if the furnace is running for too long or cycling on and off too often. 

As a furnace ages, Guadagnino said that the motor could start to fail and whine, and the heat exchanger might start showing wear. 

He never recommends that residents try to do their own maintenance, other than changing the furnace filter and humidifier pad. 

Furnaces could have problems because of the dusty environment they are in, Deel said.

“Some of these furnaces are in laundry rooms. Dust and things like that get sucked into the furnace,” he said. 

For more information, contact Tru-Air Heating and Cooling at (586) 350-5054 or visit www.truairmichigan.com; call Briarwood Heating and Cooling at (248) 299-8126 or visit www.briarwoodheatingandcooling.com; or call Aladdin Heating and Cooling at (800) 762-0079 or visit www.aladdinheating.com.