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Heating Maintenance: Checklist for Gas and Oil Furnaces

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Last Updated on June 25, 2015


If you haven’t already done so, you’re probably thinking it’s time to turn on the heat in your building. Not so fast! Have you done your fall furnace maintenance? If you want to keep your building occupants healthy and safe, as well as warm, it’s in your best interest to take care of this task before starting up your furnace for the first time. November is almost upon us! The leaves are dropping off the trees, the holiday ads have already begun, and you’re toying with the idea of breaking out the winter coat. It’s going to get chilly, especially after we change the clocks and lose another hour of daylight.

You’ve probably heard the reasons why you need to maintain your furnace. (If not, check out our previous article: 4 Consequences of Fall Furnace Maintenance Neglect)

But you may not be aware that furnace maintenance is not one-size-fits-all. Depending on the type of equipment you have, how it is fueled, and the specific needs of your building and your business, there are different tasks that need to be done. And if you sign up for that bargain-priced furnace tune-up offer, how do you know what you’re getting? In some cases, “furnace maintenance” could just mean changing the filter, dusting it off and making sure it starts up okay.

Especially for a commercial establishment, you are responsible for the safety of all the occupants of your building. So how can you choose the right provider and make sure your equipment is properly taken care of?

Use these checklists to start a conversation with a certified NYC HVAC service provider about what’s included in their service agreement and what tasks are needed for your equipment.

Heating Maintenance for All Furnaces

  1. Clean or replace air filters at the beginning of the heating season and monthly through the season of heavy use.
  2. Clean the blower assembly.
  3. Clean and check condition of belts and pulleys to the blower and motor housing.
  4. Check operation of the limit switch. The limit switch is a safety control that turns off the burner when parts of your furnace get too hot, and then shuts off the blower after the temperature drops. If blower is running continuously, this part could need to be adjusted or replaced.
  5. Calibrate thermostats.
  6. Clean ducts and replace insulation if needed.

Heating Maintenance for Gas Furnaces

  1. Clean and check pilot light or electric igniter and gas valves.
  2. Check operation of the thermocouple, which is a safety control that turns off the gas if the pilot light goes out or the igniter is faulty.
  3. Check for drafts around furnace that can cause pilot light to go out.
  4. Check the height, strength and color of the gas burner flames. They should be steady with no trace of yellow coloring. The technician may need to adjust the flame height.
  5. If leaks are suspected, check condition and integrity of gas line.

Heating Maintenance for Oil Furnaces

  1. Due to soot buildup, oil-burning furnaces need more maintenance than gas furnaces, and should be cleaned and checked at least twice during the heating season.
  2. Clean or replace oil filter, gaskets and pump strainer.
  3. Check the color of the smoke coming from the chimney. If it’s black, that means the oil is not burning completely. This wastes fuel and increases pollution. Your technician will need to make adjustments to the furnace controls.
  4. Clean soot from the stack control or electric eye safety switch and check its operation. This is a safety device that shuts off the motor if the burner fails to ignite.
  5. Lubricate blower motor fittings.
  6. Clean and adjust draft regulator.
  7. Check condition and operation of electrodes, transformer, oil nozzle, air tubes, and pump.
  8. Check volume of fuel tank.

As you can see, there’s a lot more to fall furnace maintenance than you might expect. To be sure you’re getting the service your equipment requires to keep your building safe and comfortable, look for a NYC HVAC service provider that provides details in writing about the work you’re paying for. Don’t be afraid to ask questions if you don’t understand the contract. Even better, choose a company that writes agreements in clear language that makes sense to you.

Want to learn more about setting up a preventative maintenance plan that meets the needs of your business and your budget? Grab a copy of our helpful guide: HVAC Preventative Maintenance Contracts: How to Find the Right One for Your Infrastructure.

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