In my job, so often I hear people say that they had a furnace for 20 years and never had a problem. They even say that they never even had it cleaned! How come these new furnace need so much maintenance and have more problems than the old furnaces? I’m sure you all have heard something similar to this!
It is true that the furnaces of today do require more maintenance but they are also more efficient and safer than the furnaces of the past.
Just think about it –The older furnaces were only about 55% to 60% efficient and had only 2 safeties on them, a limit control and a thermocouple. Both of these safeties were temperature activated and took a while to react to unsafe conditions. They had belt drive motors and blowers and were designed for HEATING.
Today’s furnaces are much safer than those in the past. Furnaces today can have as many as 8 safeties on them and they react to unsafe conditions very quickly. There are anywhere from one to three limit controls, one to three roll-out switches, one or two pressure switches, and a flame sensor. A logic panel or “brain” in the furnace monitors all of these safeties. Safeties, like the flame sensor, can become dirty or corroded, which can cause nuisance lockouts on today’s furnaces. Since all these safeties are “electronic”, they have electrical connections that can become corroded causing problems with operation.
All manufacturers today recommend yearly maintenance on furnaces to keep them operating safely and to prevent nuisance problems with their equipment. Here is one manufacturer’s recommendations for that maintenance:
The furnace should be cleaned and adjusted by a qualified service contractor once a year or before the start of every heating season. The following items must be cleaned and serviced or replaced if there are signs of deterioration.
The furnace burners, igniter and flame sensor.
The condensate collection and disposal system.
If any disassembly of components containing flue or vent gases is required, a qualified service agency must perform the service.
Check the vent terminal outside the house for obstructions.
Check the furnace vent and combustion air intake passageways for obstructions, sagging, etc. The operation of this appliance requires the reassembly and resealing of the vent/air intake system
- Induced draft motor assembly.
- Heat exchanger assembly.
If you also notice, this says all work should be performed by a qualified service agency. Even that has been taken away from the average homeowner.
Yes, it is sad to see old reliable go its way, but today’s technology assures us that these products are going to help conserve energy for future generations and provide us with the utmost safety in the process.
Remember, also, that this new furnace can be just as reliable as your father’s furnace if you take care of it and have it maintained yearly by a qualified service agency Then you can have the best of both situations – high efficiency, safety, and reliability!
(updated and modernized from my post on 4/2011)