For the savvy DIY home-owner, no project seems too big to tackle on your own. Plumbing, roofing, landscaping, and flooring may have all been conquered, and even some basic electrical work isn’t too frightening if you take the proper precautions. But there are a few projects that even die-hard DIY’ers should steer clear of, and working with your home heating system is one of them.
Here are a few of the many situations in which working with your furnace can end badly, and why you should just call out the professionals in the first place.
If It’s Not Done at All
If you’re not a trained expert, you don’t know what problems you may be looking for when you do the recommended annual check. If you don’t know what your furnace should look and sound like, you won’t know what isn’t supposed to look or sound like either.
If a problem isn’t caught in time, any number of dangerous situations could occur, including carbon monoxide leaks, fires, and explosions…all of which can be potentially fatal. So if you don’t know the parts of your furnace well enough to tell if they’re damaged or functioning properly, don’t try to diagnose the problem yourself. Call in professionals or your local heating company and have them perform the annual maintenance check on your furnace instead.
If It’s Diagnosed Wrong
If you hear strange noises coming from your furnace or start smelling gas, you’ll know there’s something wrong, but that doesn’t mean you’ll know what. Diagnosing the problem right the first time is essential when you’re dealing with your heating. If you guess wrong, you’ll be tampering with gas lines and parts that might be functioning perfectly, and damaging them will only lead to more extensive, expensive problems.
Further, while you’re busy trying to repair something that isn’t broken (or trying to fix the broken part but going about it the wrong way), the real problem may only be getting worse. Delaying proper care only increases risks of fire and CO2 poisoning, which kills over 200 people every year, according to the Consumer Product Safety Commission.
If It’s Done Improperly
Even if you manage to get the diagnosis right, there’s no guarantee that you’ll be able to fix it. Furnaces are complicated machines—it’s not as simple as unclogging a toilet or landscaping a flowerbed. With many DIY projects, there are multiple ways to fix the problem. With other projects, you don’t have as much freedom. With a furnace, there is one right way to fix each problem. And if you don’t do it right, you’ll only compound the problems. At best, you’ll only delay the need for real maintenance. At worst, you’ll ruin your entire furnace and have to replace it completely.
If It’s Too Much to Handle
Getting halfway through a project and not knowing how to finish can be one of the most frustrating problems to run into as a DIY’er. And some projects are definitely more complicated than others. Furnace repairs will be one of those times you wish you had just called in the professionals—it might not seem like challenging work at first, but it’s more complicated and risky than it looks.
Some potential problems with your furnace include:
- Dirty Burners
- Leak in Gas Line
- Cracked Heat Exchanger
- Poor Venting
- Failed Thermocoupler
If you’re like most of the world, you probably don’t even know what each of those parts is, much less where they’re located or how to fix them. Don’t risk getting stuck with a furnace that’s half-taken apart with no way to put it back together.
Signs to Watch Out For
If you’re not in the habit of checking your furnace regularly, here are a few signs to watch out for that might indicate that it needs maintenance.
- The furnace isn’t producing as much heat as it usually does
- Funny clicking or rattling noises
- The pilot light goes out consistently or won’t light at all
- The burner flame is yellow instead of blue
- Your gas or electric bills are going up
- Your furnace is over 20 years old
Some projects can be done by the average homeowner; however, others need more professional care to avoid potential hazards that could severely damage your home or health. So if you suspect that your furnace needs maintenance, call your local Los Angeles or Edmonton furnace repair and get it checked out—don’t try to do it yourself. The risks aren’t worth it.
Connor Adkins enjoys helping people stay fit and healthy. He also enjoys DIY projects, landscaping his yard, and spending time with his wife and three children. Connor wrote this article for Always Plumbing and Heating.