Homeowners: Are You Guilty of These 10 Common Furnace Mistakes?

Homeowners: Are You Guilty of These 10 Common Furnace Mistakes?

  • Furnaces
  • Heating
furnace mistakes

Taking care of the systems in the home is part of being a good homeowner and this is especially true in regards to your furnace. Failing to properly use or maintain the home furnace can result in safety issues, an increased risk of furnace or flue fires, higher than normal utility bills, unexpected repair costs to correct the problem, inefficient heat, shortened lifespan, or even a complete furnace failure. If you are in charge of caring for your home’s furnace, this list of ten common mistakes homeowners often make with their furnaces will help you avoid future problems and ensure that your home stays safe, cozy, and warm all winter long. 

Filter change issues 

Before the furnace can provide heat to comfort a room, the warm air must first travel through a filter system. This filter system benefits the occupants of the home by removing dust particles and other contaminants from the air, making the air quality of the home healthier and helping the home stay free from contaminants and dust. Over time, the filter becomes clogged and the air can no longer travel efficiently through the filter to warm the room to the level specified by the thermostat setting. this causes the furnace to work harder to try and reach that level and results in higher utility bills and premature aging of the furnace components. To ensure your furnace does not suffer these problems, make sure that you use the filters specified by the furnace manufacturer or installer and ensure that they are changed on schedule. In addition, if the home is subjected to severe winter weather causing the furnace to work harder, changing the filter more frequently will help to keep it running properly. 

Failing to schedule annual maintenance by a qualified professional 

Even furnaces that are running perfectly can benefit from having an annual maintenance checkup. In addition to cleaning and adjusting your furnace to improve efficiency, your furnace professional will be able to look for signs of developing issues and make proactive repairs to prevent failures and mechanical issues during the winter heating season. 

Setting thermostats too high 

Setting the thermostat too high forces the furnace to work non-stop to attempt to reach the temperature of the thermostat setting. Instead, choose to keep the thermostat on a normal setting and look at making other changes in your home to help your furnace run more efficiently, such as adding more insulation, covering exposed windows with insulated draperies or blinds, and having a heating professional assess your home to see if your furnace is sized correctly and working as efficiently as it should. 

Failing to upgrade or replace aging systems

 Postponing furnace service, upgrades, or replacements is not a good way to save money. In most cases, a furnace that is 15 years old or older will run far less efficiently than a newer system, making the utility bills rise sharply. Planning to replace an aging system before it fails or causes utility bills to skyrocket is an excellent way to get the best value from your home’s furnace. 

Using cost as the only guide when choosing a new system 

When looking for a new system, cost should only be one factor in choosing the replacement system. A quality furnace that offers improved efficiency will end up being less expensive over its lifespan than one that costs less to purchase but results in higher utility and maintenance costs.  

Failing to adjust the heat when nobody’s home 

Most homeowners can see real savings on their utility costs by installing a programmable thermostat and taking the time to set it to reflect the family’s schedule. While mom and dad are at work and the kids are at school, or the family is sleeping, the thermostat can automatically reduce the temperature in the home creating a significant savings on the utility bill and prolonging the life of your furnace. Your furnace professional can help you select and install the best programmable thermostat for your particular system.

Allowing clutter to build up around the furnace components 

Since furnaces are often located in basements, closets, attics, and other seldom used spaces, clutter can really build up around them. This not only creates a potential fire hazard, it also prevents the furnace from having proper air flow which can shorten the life of the system and make it work less efficiently. A good way to keep this from happening is to take a few moments during each filter change to vacuum the area and clear away any clutter near your furnace components. 

Disregarding potential signs of trouble, such as odd odors, noises, or visual clues that something may be amiss 

Most families become so familiar with their furnaces that they fail to notice when it is actually operating. If a normally quiet furnace begins to make unfamiliar sounds or there are any odd odors, noises, or visual signs that something is different, contact your furnace professional immediately for a maintenance checkup. Noticing these signs and attending to them can be the best way to prevent an emergency failure and costly repairs later.

Failing to keep the furnace components clean or eliminating contaminants 

Like any other appliance, your home’s furnace will operate safer and more efficiently when it is kept clean. Allowing dust or other contaminants to build up in or on the components can shorten the lifespan and create conditions that could result in a fire. Using a shop vacuum or a soft, clean cloth to clean the surfaces will help to prevent this type of problems. 

Not following manufacturer’s instructions for use, care, and maintenance 

Failing to read or follow manufacturer’s instructions for use, care, and maintenance is one of the most common mistakes homeowners make. Furnace models, sizes, and fuel types vary greatly and each one will have specific requirements for peak efficiency and lifespan. To get the most from your furnace, make sure that you learn what the manufacturer recommends and follow the instructions carefully.  

For more information about using or maintaining your furnace, ask your furnace professional to assess your system, answer your questions, and help you develop a good maintenance plan. 

Call MillTown today and schedule your checkup to see if you need furnace repair in your home!

Read What Our Happy Customers Had To Say!

By Milltown Plumbing

Heating System Tune-Up: Things to Check for Peace of Mind This Winter

Heating System Tune-Up: Things to Check for Peace of Mind This Winter

  • Furnaces
  • Heating
heating system tune-up

Cooler weather is here, so it’s the perfect time to get a tune-up for your heating system.  It’s easy to forget about, but you should think ahead to what might happen if your heating system fails down the road. 

Obviously, losing the heat in your house in the middle of winter is inconvenient at best.  Even if you can get it fixed, you’re still at home shivering or at the local motel until the repair service eventually makes it through their list to your place.  (There are likely many others in the same boat as you when heating systems start up in the fall!) 

Even if there isn’t a full heating system failure on the horizon, you are likely to be wasting money or suffering from poor heating performance if it hasn’t been checked recently. You could even be facing health and safety issues, with poor air quality or carbon monoxide poisoning. If that isn’t enough motivation, at least think of the peace of mind that comes with knowing that your heating system is fully functional and ready for the rest of the winter.

Here are the specific benefits of a heating system tune-up:

  • Improved energy efficiency
  • More uniform heat flow
  • Reduced cost (preventive maintenance is much less expensive than emergency repairs!)
  • Longer heating system lifetime
  • Comprehensive evaluation of one of the most valuable systems in your home
  • Safety – protection against carbon monoxide and contaminants!

So, here are 21 steps that a professional heating system tune-up will provide, to get you that peace of mind  … not mention performance, efficiency, savings, and safety:

It all starts with inspections!

  1. Inspect the burner:  The burner needs to be free of contamination and structurally sound to make sure that it works as designed.
  2. Inspect the combustion chamber:  Similarly, any contamination or irregularities in the combustion chamber can prevent proper heating and even create a hazard if the combustion chamber isn’t in working order.
  3. Inspect heat exchangers:  Consistent heating requires the heat exchangers to be working properly, since this is the heart of the system.  The transfer of heat from where it is generated to the medium that distributes through the house is obviously critical for efficiency.
  4. Inspect the flue:  The flue is critical since proper venting is needed for efficient functioning.  If a duct or pipe is blocked – even partially – contaminants can build up or the products of combustion can accumulate inside the system.  
  5. Inspect belts for cracks:  Any belt requires some flexibility and is therefore subject to cracking eventually.  Cracks might not be immediately visible, so a thorough inspection by a professional is needed.
  6. Inspect belts for tension and alignment:  Belts can move out of alignment or loosen as they age, so this is another important target for a professional inspection.  If these problems aren’t fixed, the belt lifetime is likely to be diminished.
  7. Check gas line for leaks:  A leak in the gas line is clearly a major problem!  A heating system professional will have the experience and equipment to detect even the smallest leak, which could save your system (and more!) from a catastrophic failure.
  8. Check safety controls:  Obviously safety is the main concern in a heating system, so the safety controls should be checked regularly.

A series of adjustments will come next:

  1. Adjust fan control:  This adjustment will allow for better airflow, thus increasing the efficiency of the system and create heating that’s even.
  2. Calibrate thermostats:  Thermostats often need to be adjusted to trigger at exactly the right temperatures, to heat your house as intended when you set the thermostats.
  3. Adjust the pilot light:  It is important for the pilot to be functioning right for proper turn-on of the system.
  4. Tighten electrical connections:  Electrical connections can loosen over time, especially in any large electromechanical structure like a heating system, so tightening all of the connections periodically prevents one common source of problems.

Finally, some routine maintenance and testing finishes the job:

  1. Lubricate moving parts:  This ensures smooth and efficient operation.
  2. Replace thermocouple:  A thermocouple measures the temperature in the system and is a common source of early failure, so the thermocouple should be checked and replaced if needed.
  3. Clean air filters:  Cleaning improves air quality.  The filters should be replaced periodically too.
  4. Clean blower components:  Air quality and efficiency are better, of course, when the part of the system responsible for moving the air is kept clean.
  5. Test combustion air openings:  Air next to get to the combustion area for proper combustion, so this is another spot where imperfect air flow affects system performance.
  6. Test manifold gas pressures:  The manifold is where gas flows from the source to the main burners, so checking the pressure there will identify any gas flow issues.
  7. Check noise and vibration levels:  Any excess noise or vibration is likely to indicate some problems in the system that need to be identified and addressed.
  8. Clean the interior of the vestibule:  The vestibule creates an airlock between the inner furnace components and the outer door, so this must be kept clean to prevent contamination and inefficiency.
  9. Conduct operational test:  Finally, a full operational test will make sure that steps 1 through 20 were done properly.  A heating system professional won’t assume that every step was done perfectly.  Too much is at stake!

Call MillTown today and schedule your checkup to see if you need furnace repair in your home!

Read What Our Happy Customers Had To Say!

By Milltown Plumbing

Indicators That It’s Time to Repair or Replace Your Furnace 

Indicators That It’s Time to Repair or Replace Your Furnace 

  • Furnaces
  • Heating
furnace repair

As the cold seasons begin looming on the horizon, your furnace will soon be under the spotlight. Eventually you temperature will drop and your furnace-use will skyrocket while you keep your home and your water warm enough to survive. Unfortunately, just like every other major appliance you love in your house, your furnace doesn’t get any younger. Whether this thought has occurred to you already or not, something could go wrong with your furnace that warrants a repair call or a replacement furnace altogether.

We always recommend that you make system checks before the winter truly hits so you can rest easy knowing all of your utilities will function properly during any inclement weather or blizzards. Your furnace is no exception to this rule. We’ve decided to lay out a few indicative signs to watch out for when performing your furnace check that may determine if you are in need of a repair/ replacement:

Pay close attention to the following four furnace issues.


Typically, the average lifespan of a furnace is 15-20 years, but higher quality furnaces that have been well maintained may extend far beyond that. This first issue may seem obvious, but we’ve found that not many people can answer how old their furnace truly is. Rule of thumb dictates that if your furnace is old enough to acquire its own driver’s license and go to prom with another beautiful furnace, it is probably time for a replacement.

If the age is getting up there, usually after year 10, it is most likely reasonable to assume that you may be in store for a furnace repair pretty soon, especially if no maintenance work has been done previously. Parts get old and rust/corrosion takes its toll. Also, it’s important to dig out your furnace warranty information and maintenance history. Some furnace warranties extend as long as 20 years, so check your warranty, whatever service you need may be covered. 


This may come as a shock, but your furnace does not double as a percussion instrument. The only noise it should be making is the low grumble it exudes when it is cycling, similar to a reluctant family member who forgot to do a chore. Bangs, scrapes, booms, screeches, thumps, or any other array of comic book onomatopoeia should be treated as a sign that a repair or assessment call needs to be made as quickly as possible. Noises coming from your furnace can be attributed to any number of issues but if it is particularly loud and disrupting when turning on it may be a sign of a serious safety issue that should be addressed straightaway. 


Is your monthly heating bill becoming an increasing burden? If so, your furnace may be to blame. In the past furnaces were far less efficient than today’s best models. Many furnaces common in homes have efficiency ratings (the amount of fuel that is turned into heat) that are in the ~70 percentiles. The most efficient options today have ratings as high as 98.5%.

An increased heating bill without increased use is almost certainly indicative of a furnace in need of repair. You will want to act on this realization as quickly as possible, or turn your furnace off altogether, for every second this furnace is running you are paying for resources that you are not necessarily in need of. The main culprit of this problem can usually be traced to the ductwork within the furnace, but that’s not to say it couldn’t be a plethora of other reasons. A repair should be able to take care of the issue, but in some less frequent cases you may end up having to start shopping for a new furnace depending on how severe the issue. 

Sight and Smell

As you’ve probably guessed by now, a furnace in distress can mostly be noticed by you in the moment. We’ve already covered hearing, but often times visual and auditory cues will key you in that something’s wrong. Two liquids pooling around your furnace that you’ll be able to see and know that something is wrong are water and gas. One of these things is a lot more dangerous to have pooling than the other, but either way you will want to notify your contractor about the issue immediately. If you smell gas, odds are the furnace is leaking gas but you just can’t see it. In both cases if you can see or smell gas, you will want to turn off your furnace as well as its gas supply valve in that moment. Especially if it is leaking gas, your home could be at risk if not treated appropriately and right away

If you’ve concluded that a new furnace is necessary, it’s not all bad news, and may be a long-term win. You can ensure your home is equipped with a safe, quiet, warrantied and efficient furnace that results in lower monthly heating costs, no unexpected repair bills, higher home resale value and greater peace of mind. 

Call MillTown today and schedule your checkup to see if you need furnace repair in your home!

Read What Our Happy Customers Had To Say!

By Milltown Plumbing