You should have your furnace serviced by a professional every year but if you can’t afford it or don’t have the time there is a simple test to let you know if your system is operating safely and efficiently.
Trahan’s Smoke Test
(this test requires a stop watch)
When the children are away from home, turn on your heat to 85 degrees and begin timing when the blower starts. If you haven’t had your system serviced, you will begin to smell smoke. When the smoke smell goes away record the total elapsed time and refer to the table below:
0-10 Seconds – Congratulations! You have been changing your filters regularly and/or have had your system serviced recently.
11-30 Seconds – This is fairly normal and, although it can cause an anxious moment, your system is most probably operating correctly and the efficiency is minimally affected. If your smell time is over 15 seconds you may wish to change your filter more often or switch to a pleated filter.
31-45 Seconds – You are most probably safe. Reset your smoke alarm and open a door or window to clear the smoke smell. We will caution you to observe the system for an additional 10-15 minutes for any unusual signs of danger. At this point, the efficiency of your heater and air conditioner has been reduced to the point that a professional service call will pay for itself and save you money on both air conditioning and heating.
46-60 Seconds – Turn off your furnace or air handler immediately. If the smoke smell stops, schedule a professional service call before you turn on the heat again. Large accumulations of dust on the furnace heat exchanger or the electric heat strips indicate poor system maintenance which can affect safety and efficiency. A skilled service man can clean dust from the heater as well as the blower wheel and evaporator coil assuring you of safe operation and dramatically increasing your efficiency.
Over 1 Minute – Turn off your furnace or air handler and call a service company immediately. Observe your heater in the attic or closet for signs of continued burning. Be aware that a gas furnace with a cracked heat exchanger can cause flames to “roll out” of the furnace and up the side so make sure that there are no combustibles near the furnace (for instance, clothes or Christmas decorations). Even if the service company cleans the system and gives the all clear consider adding a smoke detector and carbon monoxide detector for protection.
Trahan’s is now offering $20 off a one time cleaning or annual preventive maintenance agreement. If you live in the Greater Houma, LA area call us at (985) 206-8073 to schedule maintenance. We are also available 7 days a week for your emergency needs. Call us. We’re here to help.
© 2011 Trahan’s Heating and Air Conditioning, Inc.