Fall Furnace Performance: An Easy Way to Avoid a Hard Heating Season

Here at Beery Heating and Cooling, we’ve been serving local HVAC customers for a long time. When you maintain a goal such as ours through the years, you really come to know what things change and which stay the same.

Whether it’s 2013 or 2023, there’s one thing we can almost always anticipate: an influx of service calls right after it gets cold out in Aurora, Oswego, Plainfield, Naperville and Lisle.

Those calls tend to pour in because the furnace wasn’t tested and inspected before it was needed, usually beginning later in fall. That’s when many homeowners start paying more attention to the thermostat, and some may find out the system isn’t working right. They’ll of course act to resolve the problem, but by then technicians’ schedules are already filling up, which means a longer wait time or a greater cost because of overtime hours.

As a conscientious homeowner who prefers to avoid extra expense and concerns, you don’t have to count yourself among those whose solution can be delayed or cost more. The approach to prevention rather than cure is an easy one, and we’ll discuss it right here.

Fall Furnace Performance: Turn It On

Yes, it really is that simple. If you want to spare yourself from having to join a list of other homeowners needing furnace repair or inspection – and possibly pay a lot more for a problem that’s getting worse with time – turn on your furnace. Do it now, tomorrow, next week – anytime is fine as long as it is sufficiently before the cold weather rolls in.

Fall Furnace Performance: Pre-Start

Before you turn on the furnace for the first time, check the air filter. A dirty filter is still the most common cause of a heating system with poor airflow, which reduces heating efficiency while also straining the unit. If the filter is old or clogged, be sure to replace it.

With a new or still usable filter in place, you’re ready to fire the furnace up. Let it run and be alert to whether it seems to be operating correctly or chugging along with any symptoms that don’t seem right to you. For example, does it make any odd noises or blow cool air? The system should be reaching and holding your set temperature.

If you suspect that something might be off, you can perform some basic steps of your own before you call Beery.

1 Check all vents and registers and clear any obstructions, such as shoes, carpets, boxes or furniture.

2 Clean the burners and the flame sensor. While your furnace is dormant all summer and in early fall, the burners and the sensor gather dust and soot, which can interfere with furnace performance and lifespan if not cleaned. Turn off the furnace and the gas valve for safety and then clean the burners and sensor with a cloth or a vacuum. If you are not comfortable doing this yourself, just let Beery know!

3 Ensure the furnace area is clear of anything flammable such as paper; clothing; cardboard; home and garden implements with wood handles (e.g. brooms); and liquids such as gas, oil and chemical sprays. The furnace’s metal flue pipe can get very hot and potentially ignite these items.

4 Check your CO2 alarm and smoke detector. Ensure that both have sufficient battery life and turn them on to verify they’re working correctly. Both detectors should be at least 15 feet away from the furnace to avoid false alarms. Many homes already have a smoke detector in them, but not all include a CO2 detector. If you don’t have one, you can find one at a local hardware or home improvement store.

Quick Furnace Start-Up 101

Here at Beery, we like our customers in Aurora, Oswego, Plainfield, Naperville and Lisle to be just as informed as they are efficient and cost-conscious with their heating system. It’s good to have a basic understanding of how a furnace comes to life to heat your home.

When you turn on your furnace, the following sequence takes place:

1 The inducer motor starts. It is the mechanism that clears the fumes spent by the flame that heats your air. The system’s control board and a pressure switch confirm the inducer is on and is working properly.

2 The ignitor activates. This part is usually a hot surface ignitor of silicon carbide that reaches about 2,500°F, making it glow red hot. The control board’s timer then lets the gas valve open and pour a controlled amount of gas onto the red-hot ignitor.

3 The flame is created. It shoots into the metal firebox (the heat exchanger). After a small flame sensor verifies the flame is on, it sends a signal to the control board that the system is correctly working and system is safe to heat the home.

4 The blower fan comes on, completing the sequence. Warm air will move into the home until it reaches the temperature set.

Fall Furnace Performance: Post-Start

Once your furnace is running, check the gas line for any signs of leaking, such as a hissing sound or a propane smell, starting with the shut-off valve. If you detect anything, turn off the main valve and contact your gas company right away.

If the furnace is running for the first time of the year and you detect a burning smell, in some cases, as the heating system has been dormant during the summer, dust from the home may have made it past the air filter and the blower assembly and settled as a fine layer on the heat exchanger.

As the exchanger’s metal heats up, the fine dust burns off, creating a smell. This might happen the first couple of times you run the furnace, but if it continues, there may be another problem that is more urgent. You should be alert to this, and if you are concerned in any way, turn the system off and call us at Beery.

Here for Answers and Service

If you have a question or a concern about your furnace this fall, Beery Heating and Cooling has an answer or the solution. We enjoy great professional fulfillment knowing we can be here for our customers in Naperville, Aurora, Plainfield, Oswego and Lisle when they need us. To discuss your furnace this fall or schedule an inspection and cleaning before it gets cold, simply give us a call at (630) 585-6444!