Safety is the main concern for needing an annual check. Carbon Monoxide exposure puts an estimated 15,000 people in to the hospital and kills 500 every year, according the CDC. Heating systems are the leading cause for this exposure.
The heat exchanger is a critical component that must be inspected thoroughly. Your heat exchanger functions as a barrier between your home and the gases and fumes produced by your furnace in addition to transferring heat from the flame of the furnace to the air circulating throughout your home. Over time your heat exchanger will develop cracks in this barrier. As the metal ages, it becomes brittle from the constant expansion and contraction through normal everyday use. If a heat exchanger should crack, carbon monoxide can leak into the air in your home and this is where the danger lies.
In addition to safety, an annual furnace inspection is a great way to protect your investment in the equipment, making it last longer and lowering energy bills. Furnaces may fail for a number reasons including a deficient air return, dirty filters, humidity, improper installation, improper venting, lack of sufficient air to combust, over firing of burners and having an undersized or oversized unit. These problems can exacerbate a worn furnace and can raise utility costs up to 20%. However, most issues can be prevented with annual routine maintenance performed by a licensed technician.
The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 states that any residential home owner can receive a tax credit up to $1500 for installing or replacing an existing furnace. So if you need to replace your furnace, now is the time to do it.
The energy efficient tax credit have no income limits. They are currently retroactive until January, 1st 2009 and expire December 31, 2009. In order to qualify Natural gas and propane furnaces must have a 95% AFUE (Annual Fuel Utilization Efficiency) and oil furnaces must have 90%.
Please consult your local professional heating and cooling professional to see how you can upgrade to more energy-efficient HVAC equipment to save both on your energy bills now, as well as on taxes next year. Also, don't forget to ask them about their maintenance and service plans for both heating and air conditioning equipment.