The lifespans of gas furnaces vary widely. Some fail after only 10 years, while others can last 25 years or more. Since replacing a furnace is not cheap, you want your furnace to last as long as possible.
Purchasing a unit from a reputable brand and having it installed properly by an experienced technician will go a long way towards ensuring a long life. But there are also a few tasks you need to tackle on a regular basis to reduce your risk of premature furnace breakdowns.
- Have Your Ducts Cleaned
Your home’s air ducts can easily become filled with dust, mold spores, pet dander, and debris. Since there’s no way for you to reach down inside them and clean them, the ducts just get dirtier and dirtier as time goes on. Eventually, this dirt starts making its way into the furnace itself, where it forces the furnace to work harder to exchange heat. The harder your furnace works, the sooner components will start breaking.
Having your air ducts professionally cleaned at least every couple years—or perhaps annually if you have pets or a very dusty home—keep your furnace cleaner, and a cleaner furnace will last a lot longer.
- Change Your Air Filter
Changing your HVAC filter will also help keep your ducts and furnace cleaner, extending your furnace’s lifespan. It takes a lot of energy for your furnace to push air through a dirty filter. The Department of Energy recommends changing your filter at least every three months, though preferably every month during periods of heavy use.
The air filter is usually located between the furnace and the main air return duct. Just slide it out of place and slide a new one in.
- Schedule Annual Tune-Ups
Have your HVAC technician come out once a year to inspect and tune up your furnace. Fall is a good time to do this so you can be sure everything is working properly before heating season. During a tune-up, your technician will typically:
- Lubricate all moving parts to reduce friction.
- Clean any dirty components, such as the heat exchanger and thermocouple.
- Identify any parts that are beginning to show wear so you can replace them before a complete breakdown occurs.
- Make sure your gas lines are connected safely and securely.
If you need to have your ducts cleaned, your HVAC company may be able to clean your ducts and inspect your furnace on the same day.
- Seal Air Leaks Throughout Your Home
If your home has a lot of air leaks, your furnace will have to work a lot harder to keep it warm, and all of that extra work may cause it to malfunction prematurely. If your windows are old and leaky, consider having them replaced. You’ll save on heating bills and furnace replacement costs as a result.
In the meantime, you can seal gaps around the windows with rope caulk. Just press a strip of it into the place where your window sash meets the frame.
Also take the time to seal little gaps around pipes and cables that come into your home. Fill the gaps with caulk or spray foam insulation from the hardware store. If there’s a gap under your exterior door, replace the weather stripping on the bottom of the door for a better seal, or keep a fabric door snake along the bottom of the door to keep cold air from seeping through.
- Use a Programmable Thermostat
Programmable thermostats are often recommended as a means of saving money on heating bills, but they also extend your furnace’s life by reducing its workload. With a programmable thermostat, you can set the temperature lower while you’re not at home so your furnace does not have to work as hard. Set the temperature to increase a half hour or so before you arrive home so your house feels comfortable when you’re in it.
If you do not have a programmable thermostat, your HVAC company can install one when they come to do your annual tune up. If you do have a programmable thermostat but don’t use it, make this the year you start.
If you’re looking for a reliable HVAC company to help maintain your furnace or install a new one, contact Doctor Fix-It. Learn more about our furnace maintenance services, which can help you extend the life of your furnace or restore heat to your home as soon as possible.