Is Cleaning Your Own Gas Furnace Worth The Risk?
Is cleaning your own gas furnace worth the risk? Every gas-burning appliance should be cleaned and inspected by a licensed gas technician at least once per year.
With newer high-efficiency gas furnaces, it seems to have become common practice for many homeowners to stretch their yearly furnace inspection to once every two years now, and that is mostly due to two reasons.
Newer gas furnaces burn much cleaner and efficiently these days, especially as compared to the standard conventional gas furnaces that were common in the 70’s and 80’s. The second-most common reason for putting off regular maintenance is due to economic reasons.
There are still some homeowners who insist on cleaning their own furnaces, and we strongly advise against this practice for obvious reasons. A cleaning and inspection includes the gas technician checking certain safety controls and looking for safety issues.
A good technician can take in so much information about your furnace in just a few quick minutes, and if a homeowner were watching the technician doing this service you wouldn’t even realize that he just checked over a dozen things just by looking at your furnace and its configuration. So the process of cleaning the furnace itself then looks fairly simple.
Here are some pictures of what happened to one homeowner in the Toronto Area recently who decided to clean his own furnace because he wanted to save the cost of hiring an experienced technician to do the job.
The furnace was so badly burned that no one was able to determine exactly what he did to cause this fire.
But the mess was very extensive. The plastic insulation on all the wires in the furnace burned, and the smoke was sucked into the fan compartment. The smoke was then promptly distributed throughout the entire house via the air duct system. This highly toxic black smoke caused over $100,000 damage to the home, and when his insurance company found out that the homeowner caused this fire himself, they refused to pay.
The lesson to be learned is that people should not mess with any gas appliance. Always read your furnace manual to understand what the user can and cannot do to maintain the system.
Furnace Maintenance Tips
There are, however, a few very simple things that you can do to help ensure the safe operation of your furnace. First and foremost, is forget about do-it-yourself furnace maintenance unless you are a licensed and highly trained gas technician.
Your furnace needs lots of air to operate efficiently, so keep stored items at least three feet away from the furnace. When a flame is starved for air, what happens? It moves towards the most convenient air source, and this is always just outside the furnace door.
We’ve seen the results of a plastic shoe mat with shoes on it that caught on fire in a customer’s home. You’d be surprised at how many people we see who store paint cans and even gas cans close to their furnace. This is one fire hazard that can be quickly and easily remedied.
Also, keep objects away from your furnace venting. Some venting gets extremely hot and needs to have three feet of clearance to any combustible materials.
If you need your gas furnace cleaned or serviced, please call us to arrange an appointment that fits your schedule. We do provide this service on its own, but it is always more cost-effective to combine this service with a whole-house duct cleaning job.