Are annual furnace inspections really necessary?

So how many miles did that furnace of yours drive this year? We know, your furnace didn’t go anywhere, but we bet it ran a lot this past year.  So, we change the oil in the car after about 3000 miles, right?  If you equate the number of hours your furnace provides you comfort to the car maintenance miles, then we would say an annual check of your furnace is a reasonable expense for the budget.  You see, your furnace actually runs as the blower to your air conditioner so it’s working in the summer to cool your home, too. Whether or not a homeowner chooses to have their furnace checked annually depends much on each individual’s choice as to how far to stretch the time between check-ups and whether risking the costly breakdowns at the wrong time is worth saving that maintenance fee.  Here are some things to consider as you make your decision:
  • Have you recently purchased a new furnace, or purchased one in the last 10 years?
Many furnace manufacturers now offer a 10 year limited parts warranty on their products.  One of the requirements to keep this warranty in effect is to have it properly maintained annually by a qualified technician.  Does this mean that an annual furnace check-up is really required, or the warranty is voided?  The answer to this is “possibly”.  One manufacturer’s policy may be more stringent than the next on the annual maintenance requirement.  And, with the increased demand for more energy efficient products, the controls and components on your furnace are more costly and should be checked so if problems do occur, repairs can be made while the parts are still under warranty.
  •  Assuring that your furnace is operating at its peak performance and is cleaned regularly also extends its life and helps keep the utility bills to a minimum.
The typical furnace has an average life span of 15 – 20 years.  With regular maintenance, your furnace may last as long as the 20 years or more, while a poorly-maintained system may last only 13 years.  Without regular maintenance, your furnace will most likely fail prematurely. Dust builds up on the essential components, decreasing efficiency and increasing the wear on your system. Wires and terminals corrode, gas and electrical connections become loose and the motor wears out sooner due to friction for lack of lubrication.  Yes, we’ll say it again, just like you check under the hood of your car to get all those miles out of it, you should check your furnace.  It may not take you places, but it provides you comfort all year long.
  • The most important thing to consider when making that maintenance decision is the safety of you, your family, and anyone who spends time in your home or business.
Natural gas furnaces have the potential to release carbon monoxide gas if they are not operating properly, aren’t vented correctly, or should wear out and eventually get a crack in the heat exchanger.  Furnaces in damp, high humidity locations have the potential to rust prematurely and a rusted heat exchanger can become a cracked heat exchanger.  Checking the heat exchanger should be one of the many checks on the checklist provided by your service technician.  Your routine maintenance check should also include checking  proper venting of the furnace.  This is also a key factor in a furnace’s safe operation.  An obstructed vent can cause carbon monoxide to release into the home.  Safety controls are also checked as many of the newer furnaces are designed to automatically shut down if unsafe conditions occur.  
Warranty photo