Older furnaces need a little more care and attention than newer furnaces, but knowing what needs to be done can extend its lifespan and keep it running smoothly and efficiently. Taking care of an older furnace involves keeping your ducts sealed and insulated, inspecting your thermostat's batteries, and having important parts inspected, cleaned, and replaced on a regular basis.
One of the most important parts of your heating system is your ducts. These are responsible for carrying warm air throughout your house and keeping it warm as it goes. As ducts get older, insulation can start to lose its effectiveness, and holes or gaps in the ducts can start to make your furnace much less efficient. This is important for several different reasons.
First, a less efficient furnace that runs more often will run up your utility bills and will take longer to warm up your house.
Second, a furnace that has to run more often will wear out more quickly, which can quickly overwork an already old furnace.
Third, any gaps in your ducts makes it easier for pests to get inside, which not only grants them access to your house, but can pose a health risk.
Ducts should typically be inspected every three to five years, but as your ducts get older, or if they have recently been in need of repairs, they should be inspected more often to keep them in good shape. This will help keep your house warm, your bills down, and your furnace lasting even longer.
Replacing Batteries and Filters
Old furnaces may still use components that require batteries, such as thermostats. Thermostats don't generally take much energy to run, so your batteries can go a long time without needing to be replaced, but it's still a good idea to make inspecting your batteries part of your annual maintenance.
One important reason for this is that batteries used in thermostats, often alkaline batteries, can start to corrode over time, which ends up leaving a white powdery substance in your battery terminals. This happens when batteries leak, and this can damage your terminals if not taken care of. Inspect your thermostat batteries even if you don't think they need replacing. You can also keep spares of the battery type you know you need in your house, so that when you do need to replace your batteries, you can do this right away.
Another easily inspected and replaceable component is your air filter. Typically your filter will need to be replaced every few months. When a filter builds up too much dirt and dust and gunk, less air gets through, which could cause your furnace to overheat and have to shut down. If your filter looks very dirty, make sure it's replaced as soon as possible.
Part Inspection and Cleaning
A furnace has a variety of parts that need to be inspected, cleaned, repaired, or replaced to keep your furnace running smoothly. Moving parts especially can be the source of loud noises like screeching or rattling, and the longer they go without repair, the greater the risk any damage could get worse.
For example, if your furnace's flame sensor is dirty, it won't sense that your furnace is running when it's supposed to, and could cause your furnace to shut down quickly. Another example is any fan belts in your furnace; when fan belts get loose or cracked they might start to make whining or screeching sounds, and if they snap or fall off, your furnace may stop working.
By themselves, these issues are often easily fixed, but if they aren't found quickly, they can start to damage the rest of your system. For older furnaces, this can mean the difference between a simple repair and a complete replacement. Make sure your furnace is inspected thoroughly when you call for annual maintenance.
If you need help with your furnace, reach out to a local heating service.