This is one of my favorite topics of the day! Like many of those who will read this, when growing up I was influenced by what my parents did as maintenance on their own house, so many of my opinions formed from that. Since becoming a heating contractor/professional I have become educated by those that manufacture the products we sell and service. So that being said here it is straight from the source. Should you tune up or clean your furnace, the answer is a resounding YES!! There is however a caveat that you MUST be aware of, the work must actually be performed.
We see all the time ads regarding ultra cheap pricing for doing this type of work, which in my opinion are usually just come ons (in other words just a way to get in the door to draw you into a different service or sale. The truth about this type of work is part of tuning up is cleaning the equipment. To tune up you are attempting to get the equipment to run as the factory designed and expected it to run. If you go in and only measure temperature differences, look at ductwork, observe the running of equipment, and slide a camera into the combustion chamber looking for rust, cracks, or holes you are most likely not providing or receiving a complete service. While these things are necessary they don’t provide a complete tune up/cleaning. You could have a dirty blower wheel (sometimes called a squirrel cage), dirty blower motor, dirty burners, a dirty combustion chamber, a poor burner flame, improper drafting at the flue, improper combustion air, dirty control boards, cracked or broken wire insulation, carbon monoxide levels that are to high, or improper difference between the supply and return air. Just to name the most likely. Filters are a direct attempt to help keep the equipment clean but most people don’t know or care to change them often enough to do a good job and still yearly tune ups will need to be completed. Improperly completed tune ups which include a good cleaning will shorten the life and can cause premature failure of your heating and cooling equipment. This is by the way some of the most expensive equipment in your house and also some of hardest working equipment in your house. We are always hearing about being green and usually tie it into purchasing more efficient equipment than we currently have. This is “penny wise and pound foolish” as the quote goes. When you change equipment only to gain efficiency you must look at the pay back, which may or may not justify the purchase. However if you are not keeping your existing equipment efficient new equipment will be just as non efficient in a year or so down the road. Now go ahead BE GREEN, TUNE UP AND CLEAN. Some things to watch out for, real cheap pricing, $29.00 up to $99.00 probably not much really going on other than coming back to you to authorize a bigger price tag item. Not doing a combustion analysis with a properly running combustion analyzer, and preferably leaving the reading with you documenting the analysis results. A proper analysis will let you know if you have a proper burn of the fuel, the efficiency of the equipment, the all important carbon monoxide (co) reading, and other valuable information.