Is an Annual Furnace Tune Up Really Necessary?
Many people have wondered, “Is an annual furnace tune up really necessary?” You probably know that most furnace manufacturers recommend it, but you may not know that most also require it for the warranty to stay valid. But beyond that, there are a number of things you should know about whether or not you should get an annual tune up.

Is it really necessary?
As mentioned above, you could void your warranty if you’re not doing the proper maintenance, since the manufacturer doesn’t want to pay for repairs on a neglected furnace. Basically if you don’t get a regular tune up, your furnace will begin to fall into disrepair and run less efficiently. This will not only cause your bill to rise each month, but it will shorten the life of the furnace itself.

Think of it this way: What would happen if you never took your car in for an oil change? Over time it would run less and less efficiently, lowering your MPG, and eventually your engine would seize up and total your car. Is it the end of the world to miss one oil change? Not really, but religiously getting your oil changed will extend the life of your car. Your furnace is the same way. If you miss a tune up here or there it won’t explode or anything, but it will probably cost you money down the line.

What does the technician actually do to “tune up” your furnace?
This is a question we get a lot. With the above example of your car, it’s fairly straight forward, they change out the old, dirty oil for new, clean oil. But unfortunately your furnace isn’t as straight forward, and the service you get under the various names of “tune up” “safety check” or “check-up” will vary between different companies. It’s a good idea to become acquainted with your furnace and what different checks and maintenance can and should be performed. This way you can ask a contractor beforehand what you will actually get in exchange for your money. Too many home owners get swindled into doing annual “check-ups” that in effect do nothing. Here are the things you will want your contractor to do.

  • Check vents for blockage or leakage
  • Combustion gases must be evaluated and compared to the manufacturer’s recommendations
  • The blower door must be checked to ensure a tight seal
  • Air intakes must be checked and cleaned
  • The heat exchanger must be checked for any rust or decay
  • Each burner must be checked to ensure it is igniting and burning properly
  • The drainage system must be checked for blockages or leaks
  • The blower motor must be cleaned, inspected and oiled
  • The blower motor’s electricity consumption must be checked and compare to the manufacturer’s recommendations
  • All wiring ought to be inspected for corrosion or deterioration
  • The filter must be checked and probably replaced (this needs to be done more than once a year, but is something you could probably do yourself)

You can use this list to make sure that you’re getting a good deal and not just having someone show up and pretend to look at your furnace (which, unfortunately, does happen).

Is this something I, the homeowner, can do myself?
If you’re a fairly mechanically savvy person, you probably could do some of the above list yourself. But the only homeowners that we’ve ever met who can do all these things themselves are, incidentally, HVAC contractors. The other thing to keep in mind is that your warranty may require that your tune-ups are done by a state licensed professional.

So if you want to tackle this yourself, you are more than welcome to try, but it’s certainly not recommended, and may void your warranty.

So, in conclusion, do you really need to get this annual tune up? Well, you really ought to. If you miss a year here or there, it’s not the end of the world, but it will shorten the life of your furnace. And if you neglect the tune-ups all together you will find yourself needing to pay for costly repairs or even replacing your entire system. So just do yourself and your wallet a favor, and get your annual tune-ups done!
Thanks for reading, and be sure to check out our other articles and information on our website.