Like every other homeowner, you plan to use your furnace this winter to keep your home from turning into an ice box. However, without regular cleanings throughout the years, you're likely to power up your furnace only to realize that it doesn't operate as efficiently as it once did. Unless a vital component of your furnace has broken, the blame for your furnace's reduced heat production can be placed upon airborne debris and soot. These types of debris will reduce your furnace's heating capabilities by:
Clogging Your Air Filter
Your furnace requires clean air to operate safely. If the airborne debris throughout your home were able to pass through your furnace, it would create harmful fumes when it's ignited inside your combustion chamber. For this reason, your furnace is designed only to receive air that has been cleaned of debris by your air filter.
However, your air filter's pores are extremely small. When a significant amount of debris is trapped in your air filter over the course of a few weeks or months (depending on your indoor air quality), your pores will become clogged. Eventually, your blower motor will begin pulling debris into your combustion chamber when the debris clogging your filter increases the suction through the remaining open pores. Your burner assembly will produce greater amounts of soot and lesser amounts of heat when your air filter becomes restrictive.
Fortunately, replacing your air filter is a simple task. A conventional furnace filter will be located inside your blower compartment on the side connected to your air return duct. Pull your filter out from this location, wipe away loose debris, and install your replacement filter.
Reducing The Airflow Through Your Blower
Your furnace's blower is a powerful centrifugal fan. However, regardless of how powerful your blower is, it's still susceptible to becoming dirty.
A centrifugal fan uses a large fan wheel with several blades to generate airflow. When your motor powers your fan wheel and causes it to spin, the angled blades around your wheel draw air into your furnace. As debris slips through your filter and unsealed gaps in your blower compartment, your fan wheel's blades will become coated in debris. When enough debris collects on the blades, the amount of air that can be pulled through the blades and into your furnace will be reduced.
Cleaning your blower's fan wheel is a complex task. To clean your fan wheel, you must have in-depth knowledge of the electrical wiring between your blower and furnace and the design of your blower assembly. Without this knowledge, you're likely to cause damage to your blower while attempting to remove it from your furnace and clean it. For this reason, this problem should always be left to a professional HVAC technician from a company like Christian Brothers Plumbing Repipe/Broken Water Pipe Service.
Coating Your Burner Tubes
Soot is produced any time gas is ignited in your furnace. The amount of soot produced by your furnace differs depending on how efficiently your burner assembly is igniting its gas supply. If your air filter, blower motor, or air ducts are restricting the air supply to your furnace, then your burner tubes will quickly become filled with soot. However, even if your furnace is well-maintained, soot will still accumulate and reduce the efficiency of your furnace over the course of a couple years.
You cannot remove your burner tubes without risking permanent damage to your furnace. Additionally, if you reinstall your burner tubes incorrectly, then they may become imbalanced and allow unspent gas to collect in your home. For this reason, you should leave the task of deep cleaning your burner tubes to a professional.
However, you can remove small amounts of soot from your burner tubes with a vacuum cleaner or air compressor. To do so, shut off the power and gas supply (if applicable) to your furnace and let it cool. Open the access door on your furnace housing and place your vacuum or air compressor hose as close to your tubes as possible. Blast or suck away the soot on the outer edges and exterior surfaces of your tubes. Although this cleaning method does not remove the entire accumulation of soot on your burner tubes, it will help minimize your furnace's lost heat production.
If you have trouble performing a certain task by yourself, or if your furnace requires maintenance that you can't perform, then hire your local HVAC technician to do the maintenance for you. By doing so, you can ensure that your furnace produces enough heat to keep your entire home warm this winter.