Simply put, yes – a clean, maintained gas furnace prevents emergency repairs and increases the lifespan of the equipment. Ideally, the best time to do your gas furnace maintenance is in the fall, before the heavy days of winter use begin. All you need to know is what to look for when inspecting your unit and how to properly maintain the components you will encounter.
For tips on replacing your air conditioner, visit the linked article for the best AC units for Arizona. However, if you are interested in a bit of DIY maintenance for your gas furnace, you need only follow the steps below to successfully do your own cleaning and inspection.
Tools and Supplies to Clean Your Gas Furnace
To get started, you will need certain tools and supplies. It is best to gather them ahead of time rather than having to go look for them during the process of cleaning your gas furnace. You will need the following items:
- Screwdriver set
- Ratchet and socket set
- Small stiff brush
- Emery cloth
- Shop vacuum
- Clean rag
- New furnace filter
- Machine oil (lightweight)
Steps for Cleaning and Maintaining a Gas Furnace
If you have any doubts about your ability to do your own maintenance, you should instead contact a qualified HVAC professional to perform this service for you. Also keep in mind that if your system is still under warranty, you may be required to have it professionally serviced once or twice per year. Otherwise, let’s move on to the first step.
1. Shut Off Power and Gas Supply
Before beginning to service your gas furnace, you will need to do three very important things. You will need to shut off the power to the unit at the breaker box. To do this, locate the breaker that operates your furnace and place it in the “off” position. Also, locate the gas shut-off valve and give it a quarter turn to shut off the gas flow into your furnace. With this completed, you are almost ready to begin, but do one final thing before beginning. Make sure that others in your home are aware of what you are doing and what you are doing so that both items remain turned off for the duration of your service.
2. Clean the Exterior
Begin your cleaning by wiping down the exterior of the furnace to remove any dust, dirt, and grime that has built up there. You can do this by simply using a dampened rag to clean away any accumulations. Once you’ve finished this, open the furnace’s access door by lifting slightly upward and then pulling it outward. If there is a gas burner cover, remove that. Use your shop vac to clean the burners and the furnace base, reaching as far back into the furnace as possible.
If you find deposits of soot while doing your cleaning, this is a sign that your gas furnace is not combusting well. You should schedule a repair visit to fix the underlying problem.
3. Clean the Blower Unit
Unscrew and remove the control panel if it is blocking access to the blower unit. Using your socket and ratchet set, remove the bolts that hold the blower unit in place and remove it. Remember to be gentle when doing so to prevent unintentional damage to the counterweights and wiring to the fan blades. Carefully clean the blower unit, making sure to clean it evenly on all sides. Failure to clean all sides could put your blower out of balance, interfering with proper operation.
Once you’ve finished cleaning the blower unit, replace it exactly as it was before you removed it and ensure that the screws are properly tightened.
4.Clean the Igniter
To clean the igniter or pilot, you will need to softly blow dust deposits away by gently blowing into one end of a straw with the other end pointed toward the mechanism. This should be done very carefully, as this is a delicate component of your furnace that can be easily damaged. Once you are finished, replace the furnace doors.
5. Clean the Flame Sensor
Gently pull the flame sensor down and remove it from its bracket. Using an emery cloth, softly clean the surface. Then, put the part back into place.
6.Inspect the Drive Belt
The drive belt in your blower unit can crack or become worn over time. As this happens, tension will be lost and performance will diminish. If your drive belt appears to be worn or flawed, it should be replaced. This is a fairly inexpensive part to replace, so you may want to keep an extra on hand if you intend to do your own regular maintenance. You might even consider just replacing it each time you clean and maintain your unit.
7. Apply Lubrication
First, remove the oil caps and clean them. Then use the light machine oil to lubricate your blower’s motor. You will also need to oil the shaft bearing, being careful to use only as much oil as is needed. It only takes two or three drops to get the job done.
8.Replace the Air Filter
If you have coordinated your furnace filter replacement to coincide with cleaning, be sure to do that now, as well. This filter needs to be replaced every one to three months, so you will also need to replace it at additional intervals. If you are unsure how to do this, consult your user’s manual or online instructions. Keep in mind that larger-size filters may be replaced less often.
9. Check the Burners
Once you have completed your cleaning and maintenance, restore power to your furnace and open the gas line back up. Do a visual inspection of the burner flames once they’ve ignited. If you see an even, blue-colored flame, your burners are clean. An uneven or yellow flame is a sign of dirty burners that need to be cleaned or adjusted. This is a service that will need to be completed by a qualified HVAC technician.
If everything is working as intended, you have successfully cleaned your gas furnace. If you still see issues or if you are uncomfortable with any part of this maintenance, you should contact an HVAC professional to do maintenance instead.