Reactive behavior is defined as acting after an event has occurred. We do it all the time. A friend sends us a text and we respond.
Proactive behavior means that we act upon something to prevent an event from happening. Instead of waiting for the text, we call the friend, saving him the trouble of texting.
Each behavior has its downsides and benefits. If you wait too long to react, you might have to deal with a preventable event. Trying to stock up on grocery essentials while a blizzard is already happening means treacherous roads and the likelihood that your grocery is already out of milk and bread.
If you stock up on food proactively too soon, there’s a chance it will go bad before the storm hits.
On the other hand, proactively traveling to a place where the storm will miss saves you several headaches.
And there’s no way you can guess where lightning is going to strike. You will have to react if it strikes a power line or tree.
With furnace maintenance, it’s easier to be proactive.
Is It Better to Be Proactive or Reactive When Scheduling Furnace Maintenance?
Getting an annual tune-up by a professional HVAC technician is much, much better than waiting for a part to break, which might disable your whole system.
Yes, you’ll need to spend money upfront, and maybe your system sounds fine and is providing enough heat. But how about tomorrow? Or when the blizzard is about to hit?
Right now, while the temperature in Columbus is negative 5 degrees Fahrenheit, people are calling and saying that their furnace is broken. We have to report the bad news: We are booked solid, and we can get there in five days. A breakdown over a holiday weekend makes it worse.
Our call center is flooded with service requests when it gets super cold outside. We often end up booking days or even weeks out if we’re receiving hundreds of calls in a day. This is the very reason we advertise heavily in the Fall and Spring. We want our customers to be worry-free when the weather is at its worst.
Does that mean that preventative maintenance stops your furnace from ever breaking down? No. But it sure as heck helps.
The easiest comparison is changing the oil in your car. Your car can run with some oil, but oil goes bad, and that is terrible for the engine. There will be a time when the oil is used up and your engine stops working. One small issue - changing your oil - becomes a major problem, costing thousands of dollars.
When Is the Busiest Season for Furnace Maintenance?
We urge our customers to schedule maintenance on their furnaces in the late fall. That would be the time when the temperature is starting to dip to the 50s. (Conversely, we urge customers to schedule their air conditioning before they need it, in late spring.)
When does our service department get the busiest? When it gets really cold. That’s the point when homeowners are most uncomfortable. Cold air is seeping in through windows, and basements turn into rooms that aren’t pleasant places to be.
We perform many furnace tune-ups in the middle of winter. It usually happens when something breaks down.
A Maintained Furnace Will Have a Longer Life
Regular furnace cleaning will give you a longer system life if you’re proactive. The easiest comparison that people can understand is when you compare it to a vehicle. You buy a brand new car, you never get your oil changed, you never do any annual furnace maintenance, and you never check tire pressure. You’re going to shorten the life of your vehicle.
If you never change your oil, you could blow the engine - even on a brand-new car. That’s just neglect. You can’t run it without proper levels of fluids.
It's similar to a furnace or air conditioner. It needs to be checked. It needs TLC.
With the proper care, it can outlast the warranty by a decade. Most warranties are for 10 years. A furnace that’s had good care can last 15-20 years.
Regular Maintenance Will Satisfy Your Warranty
In order to maintain the warranty, you have to have annual maintenance done. The maintenance needs to be done by a licensed HVAC professional. It can’t be someone such as your brother-in-law who’s handy and can open the unit and take condensed air and blow stuff out.
If we’ve installed the system, we’re the ones who want to work on it. If you have a ten-year-parts-and-labor warranty, your HVAC company can say that it’s valid only if the maintenance is done by the company that installed it.
On a day when it’s below zero, we might have to tell you that it’s a week-long wait. Naturally, you call someone else who can get to the furnace in a day. You’ll get warmth soon, but it might void the last 7 years of your warranty. It happens all of the time. It’s up to the company’s discretion to honor it or not.
When another company works on it, we won’t have any record of what they did, or even if they performed satisfactory maintenance. When someone else works on it, we don’t know what they did or did not do to it.
You Could Save Money on Your Energy Bill
Cleaner is always better than dirty when it comes to HVAC, as well as many other things. A furnace’s blower motor is in motion when the furnace is providing heat. (It’s also running when you’re running the air conditioner.) It’s the force that propels air throughout the vents.
A dirty blower motor is going to be heavier and will affect electrical consumption. Why does it get heavier? If left alone, dust and debris will wind up on the blower wheel. Dirt can also hinder the heat exchanger and the gas igniter.
Dirt is the arch-nemesis of efficiency.
A Clean Furnace Provides Better Indoor Air Quality
If you’re cleaning off the blower and other components, you’re going to have better air quality. The dust and debris floating in the air can come from the inside of your furnace. It blows into the ducts and then into your home.
On sunny days, you’ve probably noticed the specks of dust that float in the air. According to Chemical and Engineering News, most indoor dust is comprised of sloughed-off skin cells, hair, clothing fibers, bacteria, dust mites, bits of dead bugs, soil particles, pollen, and microscopic specks of plastic.
None of that should wind up in your lungs, but it does.
(A clean air filter produces better air quality, as well.)
A Clean Furnace Provides Better Health for Your Family
A clean furnace will help cut down on allergens and germs. Some of what’s floating in the air is especially hard on people who suffer from allergies. If you have young children or senior citizens, they could benefit from fewer germs going from the furnace through your ducts.
Preventative maintenance gives you insight into larger problems. A routine check-up could identify a cracked heat exchanger. There could be signs that it’s getting old and going bad. You can tell if the heat exchanger is showing signs of wear. It may be time to get it replaced before the next season.
That can lead to a health hazard, potentially a fatal one. A cracked heat exchanger means carbon monoxide is leaking out, and it doesn’t take much until it leads to poisoning.
Your Furnace Will Provide Better Comfort
As part of any thorough maintenance visit, your HVAC technician should look at the flame of your gas furnace. It’s quite easy for dirt and grime to build up there. A buildup on the burners can produce a weak flame. A weak flame means that your furnace can’t provide the heat that a clean one can. Your furnace might run, but you’ll notice a lack of warmth. You might notice cold spots and inconsistent temperatures.
Insufficient heating is one of the most inconvenient symptoms of dirty furnace burners. When temperatures drop, the last thing you want is a lack of heat due to temperature changes.
Furnace Maintenance in Columbus, Ohio
Here at Fire & Ice in Central Ohio, we stand by ready for your call. We have three maintenance plans in place to help you maintain the ideal HVAC system year-round. They’re intended to save you time and money and to avoid frustration.
Don’t roll the dice with a system that costs thousands initially, and could cost you thousands more if you don’t take care of it.
And if you’re in Columbus, Ohio, and need maintenance, get in touch. We’d love to help you.