For the past few weeks, my forced-air gas furnace has been on the fritz. I blame this on the fact that I haven't been as diligent as I should have been with regular furnace maintenance, which includes:

  • Checking the condition of the vent connection pipe and chimney
  • Checking the physical integrity of the heat exchanger
  • Adjusting the controls to provide optimum water and air temperature settings for both efficiency and comfort
  • Having a technician perform a combustion-efficiency test
  • Checking the combustion chamber for cracks.
  • Testing for carbon monoxide
  • Adjusting blower control and supply-air temperature
  • Cleaning and oiling the blower
  • Removing dirt, soot, or corrosion
  • Checking fuel input and flame characteristics
  • Sealing connections between the furnace and main ducts.

The situation came to a head on New Year's Eve, when the furnace quit producing heat altogether. Before calling a technician, I removed the flame sensor and cleaned it and used compressed air to blow out the dirt from the air chamber.

Since then, the furnace has resumed working correctly and regulating the temperature according to my programmable thermostat. Its efficiency has improved, too.

This experience has reinforced the idea that keeping on top of maintenance saves energy and money at home. This experience also has caused me to resolve that in 2010 I'll have a technician come out and perform a more comprehensive review of my furnace and complete other maintenance activities.