Angie’s List: What to expect from a furnace inspection
When you’re checking your house and preparing for fall, don’t overlook your heating. HVAC experts recommending hiring someone to inspect your overall system twice a year: in spring for cooling and in fall for heating.
A yearly inspection on both your furnace and air conditioning will prolong the life of your HVAC system and save on energy bills. Much like changing the oil in a car, if you ignore HVAC service, something breaks sooner or later. An inspection prevents major breakdowns and helps catch small problems before they become big ones.
BENEFITS OF A FURNACE INSPECTION
A poorly maintained furnace runs less efficiently, forcing it to work harder. This increases your monthly energy bills and burdens your system with more wear and tear. You’ll add years to your system’s useful life as well as save money with a simple inspection. Since your heating and air conditioning share many components, this work will benefit your system holistically. For instance, some technicians give the air conditioner evaporator and coils a once-over during heating inspections since they’re already inside the works.
Furnace problems also pose a health hazard if left untreated. A furnace inspection can reveal carbon monoxide leaks, which are hard to detect because the gas is colorless and odorless. According to the Centers For Disease Control, oil and gas furnaces contribute significantly to the 15,000 people per year who visit the emergency room for carbon monoxide poisoning. For this reason, your HVAC technician should check out your furnaces exhaust outlet or direct vent pipe section for broken components and cracks.
Even if you have a new furnace, don’t skip out on the yearly inspection. Many HVAC warranties contain language that requires you to hire a qualified professional to maintain your unit. If you make a warranty claim, the manufacturer may ask for service records to verify you’ve kept up with maintenance and cleaning.
Most states and localities require HVAC contractors to hold professional licensing. As always, make sure anyone you hire carries the proper license, bonding and insurance.
ELEMENTS OF A THOROUGH FURNACE INSPECTION
You can expect to pay between $60 and $100 if you hire an HVAC company for a one-time inspection and tune-up. You may save money on the inspection if you have an ongoing service contract with an HVAC provider.
Prior to hiring a contractor to inspect your system, ask for a written list of what this service includes. A good HVAC inspection will address many different parts, such as:
— A visual inspection of the main system, including an examination for corrosion, leaks and proper ventilation
— Verifying all aspects work at peak operating performance
— Checking thermostat settings to make sure the system runs properly
— Inspecting electrical connections and testing voltage on the system components to prevent any component failure in the future
— Lubricating moving parts
— Inspecting the condensate drain for obstructions
— Checking system start-up and shutdown controls for proper operations, as well as changing the filter
Paul F. P. Pogue is a reporter for Angie’s List, a trusted provider of local consumer reviews and an online marketplace of services from top-rated providers. Visit AngiesList.com.