What Happens if You Don’t Have Your Furnace Maintained Regularly?

Gas furnaces are one of the most effective options for heating your home, and this is especially true in places like Kentucky where winter temperatures regularly drop below freezing. As with any other type of equipment, furnaces can also experience a variety of issues that impact how well they work and how much energy they use. For this reason, it is vital that you have your furnace and entire heating system maintained every autumn to make sure that it is ready for winter and reduce the risk of your furnace suddenly breaking down. To understand why maintenance is so important, today we’re going to look at the various issues that may occur if you neglect to have your furnace maintained.

Higher Energy Costs

The energy efficiency of your furnace is calculated in terms of AFUE (Annual Fuel Utilization Efficiency), which is essentially a measurement of what percentage of gas the furnace converts into heat energy. No matter what type of gas furnace you have, it will always waste at least some energy since no furnace can ever capture 100% of the heat that it creates when it burns gas. Even the most efficient furnace can only utilize so much of the heat it produces, as some heat energy will always remain in the combustion fumes when they flow out of the furnace through the exhaust flue.

Without taking the basic cost of the fuel into consideration, the size and the AFUE of your furnace are the main factors in determining how much your heating costs will be. The higher the AFUE, the more heat the furnace will produce at a time, and the lower your energy costs will be. However, furnaces can often experience a variety of issues that will limit both their energy efficiency and effectiveness.

For instance, dirty furnace burners interfere with gas combustion. If the gas doesn’t fully combust, it will result in the furnace producing yellow or orange flames instead of each burner having a strong blue flame. Blue flames are extremely hot, but yellow and orange flames contain less heat. This means that incomplete combustion will reduce how much heat your furnace produces. As a result, it will take your heating system much longer to raise your home’s temperature, and your energy bills will increase.

Annual furnace maintenance will help to prevent dirty burners and most other issues that could limit your furnace’s effectiveness and cause your heating bills to be higher. When performing the maintenance, a technician will inspect your furnace to make sure it is free of any issues that could hamper its performance. They will also fully clean the burners, flame sensor, blower fan and all other heating components, which will both improve energy efficiency and help to prevent most issues.

More Frequent Issues and a Shorter Furnace Life Span

Many furnace issues start off as something quite small but can quickly balloon into a much more serious issue if not taken care of promptly. If the technician does detect any issues with your furnace while inspecting and maintaining it, they should be able to immediately repair the problem before it causes more damage. If you never have your furnace maintained, it is almost guaranteed to suffer from more issues and will need more frequent and potentially more costly repairs.

Your furnace will also likely have a much shorter life span if you don’t make sure to have it inspected and maintained every year. Gas furnaces will typically last for around 10 to 15 years. However, your furnace may not even last half that long if you don’t have it maintained regularly.

A lack of maintenance can lead to issues like the furnace constantly overheating. Dirty furnace burners can also lead to a delay before the gas ignites, which can cause a dangerous fireball or small explosion every time the furnace starts. Both of these problems can be very serious as they have the potential to cause your furnace’s heat exchanger to crack.

Should this happen, you will most likely need to replace your furnace. While the heat exchanger can be replaced, it typically never makes sense to do so unless the furnace is still under warranty. Replacing a heat exchanger is extremely time-consuming and will usually cost as much or even more than installing a brand-new furnace.

A lack of maintenance doesn’t just affect your furnace but your entire heating system. Without regular cleaning and maintenance, your blower fan will need to work much harder to circulate air throughout the home. This puts additional strain on the blower motor leading to greater wear and tear and potentially causing the motor to burn out and need replacing.

The harder the blower has to work, the more likely it is to overheat and experience issues. This can create a cycle that leads to your furnace overheating because the blower fan is unable to draw in enough hot air and circulate heat out of the furnace quickly enough.

Health and Safety Risks

A lack of regular maintenance can also create numerous issues that can lead to safety risks. For instance, overheating has the potential to cause the wiring in the furnace and blower fan to melt and create the risk of a fire. Your furnace does have a safety mechanism that is designed to automatically shut it down if it overheats to prevent damage. However, this mechanism can sometimes fail and is more likely to do so if the furnace isn’t maintained regularly.

Another issue that can create a major fire hazard is a furnace flame rollout. This occurs when the combustion fumes aren’t being vented out of the furnace and heat exchanger properly. If these inflammable gases remain inside the furnace, they will starve the burner flames of oxygen. This causes the flames to almost instantly grow much larger and escape out of the combustion chamber in search of oxygen. When the flames “roll out” of the combustion chamber, they can reach parts of the furnace that can’t withstand the heat. A flame rollout can also singe and heat the entire exterior of the furnace to the point where anything nearby could catch on fire.

An even more serious issue is the risk of potentially fatal carbon monoxide poisoning. A cracked heat exchanger will allow carbon monoxide to escape into your ductwork and out through the vents. Carbon monoxide leaks can also occur if the heat exchanger is clogged or the exhaust flue is blocked or not working properly. The only way to prevent carbon monoxide and fire risks is to have your furnace inspected yearly and maintained to ensure it doesn’t overheat or experience other serious issues.

At Absolute Services, our technicians repair and maintain all types of furnaces from any manufacturer. If your furnace has any issues that can’t be repaired or is nearing the end of its lifespan, we also specialize in furnace installation and can help you choose the best new unit for your home. We also offer other heating, cooling, plumbing, electrical and garage door installation, maintenance and repair services for customers in Louisville, Lexington, Elizabethtown and throughout Central Kentucky. To schedule a maintenance call or any other service, give Absolute Services a call today.