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Furnaces FAQ

HVAC Frequently Asked Questions

Our answers to frequently asked questions are broad generalizations, and are provided for entertainment purposes only. Watkins Mechanical, Inc. cannot be held liable for damages resulting from use of this information.

Furnaces FAQ

  1. How often does my furnace need a check-up?
    • All manufacturers recommend annual maintenance by a trained service technician. On a gas furnace, this helps ensure safe and efficient operation. If you have an oil furnace, yearly tune-ups are a must due to the dirty fuel and a more sensitive burn cycle. A modern oil furnace that is not maintained can drop efficiency from 80% to 50-60% in just two years. Clogged fuel filters can lead to fuel pump failure. A dirty burner can cause soot buildup in the heat exchanger and chimney, requiring an expensive chimney cleaning. An annual tune-up can keep your oil furnace at peak efficiency and help avoid these costly problems.
  2. Can a propane furnace be converted for use with natural gas?
    • Yes. Most furnaces are shipped for use with natural gas and are field-converted to propane by the installers. The natural gas components are typically stored in the furnace in case natural gas is available in the future. If the required parts are missing, they can be ordered. The cost for conversion is generally $200-$300.
  3. What is carbon monoxide?
    • Carbon monoxide is an odorless poison gas produced in small amounts by any gas or propane appliance. CO (Carbon monOxide) produced by a furnace is removed from the house by the chimney. CO from a gas cook stove is normally produced in small quantities and should not cause a safety issue. CO becomes a problem when an appliance malfunctions. A bird could get stuck in a chimney and within minutes a furnace or water heater could fill a house with CO. Any house with gas or propane appliances should have a CO detector. We have personally seen cases were a furnace malfunctioned and the CO detector awoke the family and saved lives. Carbon monoxide detectors are inexpensive and can be purchased at any home store. They
  4. How do I light the pilot on my furnace?
    • The method for re-lighting a pilot varies from one furnace to another and instructions should be printed on the furnace door. Occasionally a pilot light can be blown out by a strong down draft. However, a blown pilot is usually caused by a dirty pilot burner or a bad thermocouple. For safety reasons, these repairs should be completed by a technician. Modern furnaces do not have standing pilots, and attempting to manually light a furnace can be very dangerous. Newer furnaces have either an automatic spark to relight the pilot, or an electronic ignition system (hot surface ignitor), and cannot be manually lit.