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Debunking Confusion between Visual and Mechanical Furnace Inspections

When booking your regular furnace and duct cleaning service it can be confusing knowing what level of technical service you are receiving with the cleaning of your equipment. Some companies do visual inspections and some do mechanical inspections and there are many different ways of describing them. As a homeowner it is important to know the difference to receive the proper servicing for safe and efficient operation of your furnace.

A visual inspection of your furnace is just that, visual only. Components are not removed, tested, or fully inspected. When you remove a furnace door, you can only see half of the internal components. Some furnace configurations have many important components to the back of the furnace where they cannot be seen unless disassembled. This means not only are your components not being serviced during a visual inspection, only half of them are visual in the first place.

A mechanical inspection, like the inspection included with our furnace and duct cleaning services is a full service inspection. It includes full disassembly of your furnace to mechanically test and inspect all of its components. Only certified servicemen can complete a full mechanical inspection, which is what is always recommended with natural gas appliances. Some examples of important components that must be fully serviced are:

  • Blower motor and fan assembly: your blower motor and fan are the components that move the air in your furnace when it is running or the fan is operating. These components are often the most susceptible to dust and debris buildup that can cause the furnace to overheat and the parts to fail. We replace hundreds of fan motors every year in no heat emergencies – you can prevent this kind of costly situation with a thorough cleaning and servicing. During a mechanical inspection, the blower and fan motor are fully removed, cleaned and inspected and then re-assembled in the furnace.
  • Flame Sensor: the flame sensor detects the flame created by the natural gas to ignite the furnace when you turn up your thermostat for heat. If this sensor is dirty or corroded it can cause the furnace to fail. These sensors are especially susceptible to dust and other household irritants and should be cleaned yearly to prevent damage. During a mechanical inspection, the flame sensor is removed, cleaned and then tested to ensure it is sensing the flame correctly. If it is too corroded following cleaning, the serviceman can replace the sensor, preventing an emergency failure during the heating season.

Certified servicemen who can complete mechanical inspections of your furnace are certified Gasfitter (A) Journeymen or Apprentices. They have received mechanical training in the field and at NAIT (Northern Alberta Institute of Technology) and also accumulated required hours of experience in order to properly perform mechanical inspections on your furnace. This is a valuable maintenance service that will keep your heating bills down and unexpected repair costs low. Mechanical inspections can also provide preventative maintenance to replace parts that are soon to fail as diagnosed by the serviceman. A visual inspection is a waste of your money when you can perform it yourself – save your money for service that is actually service. If you are not a trained serviceman then you don’t know what to look for in the first place.

Another way to look at visual inspections is to think of your car and what kind of service it needs for a 1500 km road trip. You wouldn’t want your safety and destination ensured by visual inspection only right? Touching and disassembling components is essential. Your furnace is also putting on km when it is running even though its not going anywhere. A 1500 km road trip is a long way, but just think how many km your furnace is putting on throughout the year. Get your energy dollars worth and make sure you get a mechanical inspection with your regular furnace and duct cleaning.

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