We're sure you've seen them before; advertisements promising free furnace inspections are common this time of year. As temperatures fall, and we edge closer to winter, you may want to consider the state of your furnace also.

But we would caution you always to remember, you get what you pay for.

Industry-wide standards for what to include in a ‘tune-up' do not currently exist.

When shopping for a tune-up for your furnace, you will need to do your research to ensure you are getting a service that is truly worth your money.

Do I really need an annual tune-up?

The long and short of it is, yes, you do need to have your heating and cooling equipment maintained every year. And we don’t mean just inspected or dusted off either.

All manufacturers recommend annual inspections AND maintenance and require that it is performed by a qualified technician.

In fact, unauthorized work on your system will likely void your system’s warranty- making you responsible for the damage.

What should the service include?

While every service provider is different, and although there isn’t a standard yet that dictates what a tune-up should include, we recommend sticking to your manufacturer guidelines to start.

All major manufacturers list maintenance recommendations and tips on their websites. To be sure, simply check your system and perform a search that way, and then ask your provider what their visit will cover.

Most manufacturers will recommend the following tasks be performed annually by a qualified technician:

1. Check vent system for blockage and leakage.
2. Analyze combustion gases and ensure they are within system specifications.
3. Ensure blower access door seals tightly.
4. Check fresh air intake grills and louvers for blockage.
5. Check burners for proper ignition and flame.
6. Ensure the heat exchanger is free of rust and corrosion.
7. Clean blower if needed.
8. Check drainage system, including internal hoses, for blockage and leakage.
9. Clean and replace water in the condensate drain and trap.
10. Conduct an amp-draw test on the blower motor.
11. Check the wiring for corrosion and damage.
12. Replace the filter.

Couldn’t I do this myself?

You could, but do you want to? Some things truly are best left to trained professionals. We would also remind you that performing annual maintenance tasks yourself will likely void the warranty on your system and a quality tune-up should cost you less than a trip to the grocery store.

The Moral of the Story…

A legitimate tune-up will cost you. But, if you do your homework you can be sure you are getting what you pay for.