Furnace Tune Up: Be Fully Prepared Before the Winter Comes!

After reading this article, you’ll be able to optimize the efficiency of your furnace and identify and fix minor repairs before they cause major issues.
Carolina Evans
Carolina Evans
Research Writer
Holds a Master’s degree in Engineering and is keen on her own home’s climate. Sometimes we think that Carolina owns every single product she writes about – that’s ho read more
Reviewed By
Richard Powell
Richard Powell
Expert Consultant
For 8 years, Richard had been working as an HVAC specialist and AC unit installer since his student years. Now, he’s our main consultant on every technical aspect that may read more
Last updated: August 12, 2023
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Most people forget about their furnaces until the frosty seasons start approaching. Chances are, a furnace tune up is at the bottom of your to-do list, or you don’t even know what this is. The sad truth is that you’re not alone, and most homeowners don’t give their furnaces a second thought until they stop functioning or winter approaches. 

You’re probably wondering. ‘Why should I care as long as my furnace does the job’? Well, what you may not know is that there are several risks associated with furnace neglect. For starters, you could suffer from carbon monoxide poisoning. When all the dirt and grime accumulate, it creates the perfect recipe for impending furnace problems that endanger the lives of your house’s occupants. What is a furnace tune up and why do you need one? How often should you conduct a furnace tune up? We have compiled a complete guide so keep reading to find out!

What is a furnace tune up?

Furnace Tune Up: Be Fully Prepared Before the Winter Comes!
As a homeowner, you definitely understand the need to conduct repairs when their heating systems fail to function properly. However, you may not realize that conducting regular maintenance is just as important.  If your furnace has served you well for several years, you may not even see the need to check to schedule a tune up. This is where you go wrong.

A furnace tune up is the basic maintenance of your heating system and includes inspecting all elements of the furnace to ensure they are okay. It also involves cleaning up the interior to get rid of the accumulated dust and providing other relevant repairs as needed.

During the tune up, the technician checks and adjusts all the parts inside your furnace to ensure it runs efficiently throughout the cold season. They also conduct a thorough inspection, and if they identify any potential issues, they fix them before they escalate into bigger problems like a furnace breakdown. 

Think of it this way; you would never let your car run for thousands of miles without getting a mechanical tune up. Why would you neglect your furnace?

Why tune up your furnace?

Furnace tune ups are equivalent to car oil changes. If you skip your oil change, your car will eventually break down. The same applies to furnaces, and if you neglect them, they will eventually stop running. Since furnaces are mechanical systems, they require regular repair and maintenance on the moving parts to keep them running smoothly.

Other reasons why you should get a furnace tune-up to include:

  • It enhances the life of your heating system.
  • It addresses small concerns before they escalate to big issues.
  • It enhances the safety of your furnace, ensuring there are no leaks. This then improves the air quality of your home. 
  • It enhances the performance of your heating system, enhancing indoor comfort during the cold months.
  • It improves the energy efficiency of your furnace, reducing your power consumption. 

You already know what happens when you get your furnace tuned up. What are the risks involved with neglecting your furnace?

In addition to increasing your energy bills, you also risk:

  1. Mechanical breakdowns during winter; on average, your furnace is supposed to last for 15 to 20 years as long as it’s properly maintained. When you conduct regular furnace tune ups, you can easily spot and fix imminent problems before they lead to system failure. This early detection also means that you only have to buy replacement parts instead of repairing the entire system. 
  2. Poor indoor air quality: the US Environmental Protection Agency Trusted Source Indoor Air Quality | US EPA This page explains the connection of the ROE indicators to the chapter themes. This page includes the ROE questions, lists of the related indicators, and additional background information. www.epa.gov revealed that indoor air is up to 5 times more polluted than outside air. This is especially worrying because people spend up to 90% of their time indoors. If the filter of your air furnace becomes clogged with dust, mold, and debris, it significantly impacts your indoor air quality.
    Furnace Tune Up: Be Fully Prepared Before the Winter Comes!
  3. Carbon monoxide poisoning: the heat exchanger in your furnace is responsible for eliminating poisonous gases from your home. It expands and contracts depending on the current temperatures, and over time, it may develop cracks. This could then result in carbon monoxide escaping into your home, which is extremely dangerous. According to the Washington Post Trusted Source Why a carbon monoxide monitor in your home may not be enough to protect you - The Washington Post Some experts say the detectors only respond to high levels of the poison — when it may be too late. www.washingtonpost.com , this is enough proof of how important it is to monitor and maintain your furnace regularly. 
  4. Temperature variance: you may start noticing that some rooms are warmer than others. This not only causes discomfort but also significantly impacts your productivity.

How to know it’s time to tune up your furnace?

You should tune up your furnace at least once every year, preferably during spring and fall. If it’s been a long while since your last maintenance or furnace repair, you should watch out for the following signs:

  • Changes in air quality. If the air in your home becomes rier that usual, it could be an indication that your furnace needs repair. This is often accompanied by excess dust settling around your home even after you constantly clean it. This change in air quality is an indication that your HVAC system is clogged with dust and needs a clean-up. This dust buildup could also result in bad odors. 

It’s, however, important to note that dry air is a common occurrence during the cold seasons and not necessarily an indication of a faulty furnace. If you’ve recently tuned up your heating system, consider getting a humidifier to add moisture to the heated air. 

According to popular reviews, the Levoit Ultrasonic Humidifier is one of the best humidifiers and comes in handy when you start to experience bloody noses, dry skin, sinus, congestion, and the flu. It comes with an automatic humidity sensor that adjusts the mist level based on the humidity in your home. 

  • Reduced level of comfort: this is probably the first sign you’ll experience. If you find that your room is not warm enough despite changing the thermostat settings, you should conduct a furnace tune up. You should, however, note that the level of discomfort is often not uniform in all rooms. This means that some rooms will be warming perfectly while others remain cold, so make sure you check whether the reduction in comfort is impacting all rooms.
  • Increased utility bills: you may not experience any discomfort, but your power consumption will skyrocket. If you can’t explain the significant spike in your energy bills, it could be because your furnace is overworking to keep you warm.
    Furnace Tune Up: Be Fully Prepared Before the Winter Comes!
  • Reduction in the flow of air: your house may be comfortably warm, but if you notice that the warm air isn’t spreading evenly, it could be an indication of the furnace’s airflow system being faulty. If you dont address this issue, it causes the system to overheat and then eventually shut down. 

Other signs include:

  • Developing allergies or asthma. If this keeps getting worse despite getting treatment, it’s probably due to a problem with the heating system.
  • Unusual loud noises from your furnace. Pay close attention to any grinding, humming, hissing, or dripping noise coming from the furnace.
  • Reduced level of heating.

You should also check the yellow pilot light on your furnace. If it’s flashing, then you need to schedule a tune up immediately. 

How much does a furnace tune up cost?

A furnace tune up can cost anywhere from $50 to $200 depending on the amount of work that needs to be done and how long it takes. The pricing is also dependent on your location and the company you hire to do the maintenance for you.

Keep in mind that low estimates are not always an indication of poor quality work. It could be that the maintenance company is new in the market and is offering exclusive discounts to new clients. They may end up doing a thorough job to turn you into a loyal customer. The same applies to high costs. They aren’t always an indication of quality services. 

Make sure you conduct extensive research before you settle for HVAC maintenance professionals. 

How is a furnace tune up done?

To ensure a thorough job is done, we advise that you have a furnace tune up checklist. This will ensure that you don’t neglect some elements of the maintenance.

Some of the items your checklist should have include:

  • Flue inspection: don’t start the burner until you’re sure that there is a tight connection, and you won’t experience any leaks of poisonous gases such as carbon monoxide. 
  • Basic check: this includes starting the furnace to see whether the blower comes on, the burner fires, and the motor starts.
  •  Filter check: look at the filter, and if it’s clogged with dust and debris, you should clean it. A dirty filter causes the furnace to overwork, ultimately increasing your power consumption. It also results in too much dust in your home and may result in mechanical damage.
  • Furnace clean-up: get rid of all the accumulated dirt and debris inside your furnace using a vacuum cleaner. You should use a clean cloth for the burners and use sandpaper or emery cloth to get rid of the carbon in the igniter. 
  • Check that the igniter isn’t worn out.
  • If your furnace has a pivot, adjust it to the correct height.
  • Check the electrical components to ensure they are not overheating and that the wiring is correct.
  • Adjust the burners to ensure they are running at maximum efficiency.
  • Inspect the ducts and the heat exchanger.
  • Clean the indoor coil and maintain the blower assembly. 

Final thoughts

A furnace tune up is one of the most neglected activities yet one of the most important. It ensures that your heating system is running efficiently, thus enhancing comfort. It also improves the air quality of your home, enhances your safety, and increases the durability of your furnace. On average, you should schedule a furnace tune up at least once or twice a year but if you notice any of the above signs, make sure you schedule maintenance immediately.


Indoor Air Quality | US EPA
This page explains the connection of the ROE indicators to the chapter themes. This page includes the ROE questions, lists of the related indicators, and additional background information.
Why a carbon monoxide monitor in your home may not be enough to protect you - The Washington Post
Some experts say the detectors only respond to high levels of the poison — when it may be too late.
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