Gas furnaces provide several benefits over electric furnaces. They're cost effective, affordable, and don't put a strain on your home's electrical system. However, they have their downsides as well—specifically, the production of deadly carbon monoxide and other exhaust fumes. These fumes will enter your home if your heat exchangers crack. To reduce the likelihood of developing cracked heat exchangers, follow these tips:
Frequently Replace Your Air Filter
Your heat exchangers are made of metal. When they're heated by your furnace's burners, they'll expand. When your exchangers cool, they'll contract back to their original state. When this process occurs thousands of times, it can cause your exchangers to crack. However, if your exchangers become extremely hot, then their lifespan will be reduced.
One issue that can cause your heat exchangers to overheat is reduced airflow—which is typically caused by a dirty air filter. Without sufficient airflow through your furnace, your furnace's combustion chamber will become significantly hotter than normal.
To prevent your air filter from restricting the airflow throughout your furnace, replace it every couple months. However, during the winter, your furnace may need a new air filter every month to account for increased usage.
Additionally, if you have several four-legged friends in your home, then you should check your air filter every month regardless of how often you use your furnace. Large amounts of pet fur will quickly clog your air filter.
Luckily, replacing your air filter is a very simple task. Open the access panel on your furnace's blower motor housing and pull out your dirty air filter from the side that faces your return duct. Clean away any remaining debris around the filter with a damp rag and slide in a replacement filter.
Clean Your Blower Motor Every Year
A dirty blower motor can also reduce the airflow throughout your furnace. Although your air filter traps a majority of the airborne debris throughout your home, your blower motor can still become coated in dust, dirt, and pet fur. However, cleaning your blower motor requires a bit more expertise than replacing your air filter.
To clean your blower motor, you'll first need to remove it from your furnace. To do so, shut off all power to your furnace and disconnect the electrical wiring from your blower motor. To prevent confusion when you reinstall your blower motor, take a picture of the wiring before you disconnect it or label each wire with a small strip of tape.
However, if you're not comfortable with electrical work, then it's best to leave the task of cleaning your blower motor to a certified HVAC technician. Otherwise, you may cause injury or damage to you or your furnace, respectively.
With the wiring disconnected, you can remove the screws that secure your squirrel cage (the large cylinder that surrounds your motor) and pull both your cage and motor out of your furnace. Disconnect your motor from your cage by loosening the screws from the sides of your cage.
Since your blower motor has electronic components, you'll need to be careful while cleaning it. Use an air compressor or a can of gas duster to blast out any debris that settled inside the motor. If you don't remove the debris on your motor, then your motor is prone to overheating and failing during periods of extended usage.
To clean your squirrel cage, place it in your yard and spray its interior with your garden hose. Once you've removed all debris from your cage, let it dry. Reattach your blower motor to your cage and reinstall these components into your furnace to finish the job.
By regularly replacing your air filter and cleaning your blower motor, you can significantly lengthen the lifespan of your furnace's heat exchangers and increase the efficiency of your heating system. If you suspect that your heat exchangers may have already cracked, then click here or contact an HVAC technician right away for an inspection. Otherwise, you or your family members may experience carbon monoxide poisoning.