Heating up the furnace


October 17, 1992|By James Dulley | James Dulley,Contributing Writer

Q: I want to keep my old gas furnace running as efficiently as possible and not buy a new one. What simple things can I do to get it ready for winter and keep it running well?

A: It is always a good idea to do some minor maintenance eacfall. By spending an hour or two, you should be able to cut at least $100 off your annual utility bills. A gas (natural or bottled) furnace should be inspected by a qualified service technician every two years.

Your fall checkup should include a change of the furnace filter. Iis inexpensive and should be changed at least every two months. Switch off the electricity to the furnace first. As a safety check, put a few drops of soapy water on all the gas line fittings. Bubbles indicate a small leak.

Remove the blower access cover. You should lubricate thblower motor and pulley bearings. Just a few drops of oil is adequate. Check the tension on the drive belt, if your furnace has one. At the proper tension, the center of the belt should flex about a 1/2 inch. You can tighten it by adjusting the motor mounting bolts.

Turn up the thermostat to see if your furnace is working. It inormal to have a short delay before the blower starts while is a temperature sensor that delays starting the blow

er until the heat exchanger gets hot enough.

If it did not start, first check the pilot light. It may have gone ouover summer. Follow the simple relighting instructions usually printed somewhere on the furnace near the pilot light. Make sure you switched the electricity back on. You may also have a faulty thermostat.

One common problem is too little heat output. This may bcaused by a dirty air-conditioner evaporator coil, dirty filter, low manifold pressure or a bad thermostat.

Another common problem is the burner cycling on and off whilthe blower stays on. The manifold pressure may be too high or the temperature-limit switch may be faulty. Yellow burner flames are caused by a dirty orifice or lack of adequate combustion air. This can produce lethal carbon monoxide gas.

You can write to me for Utility Bills Update No. 037 showing do-it-yourself fall furnace checkup guide and a trouble-shooting guide for gas furnaces listing 20 common problems and the proper Include $1.50 and a self-addressed business-size envelope.

Questions should be addressed to James Dulley, c/o Baltimore Sun, 6906 Royalgreen Drive, Cincinnati, Ohio 45244.

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