Our Furnance Repair Bill

October 22, 2009

Heating & cooling your home isn’t cheap, especially when you add in furnance repair bills like the one we had last weekend.  We came home last Sunday afternoon and found that although our thermostat was turned to 65 and we could hear the furnace blower kick on, there was no hot air coming out of the vents.

Heating System

Our central heat system uses a heat pump to warm the house when the temperature is above a certain level and then a gas furnace kicks in as auxilary heat when the temperature outside gets too cold for the heat pump to keep up.

I opened up the furnace and could see that the gas burners weren’t lighting but didn’t see a pilot light anywhere.  Reading through the owners manual I discovered that some of the newer gas furnaces like ours have an igniter instead of a pilot light and they recommended having a professional diagnose it.

Furnance Repair

I knew it would be more expensive for a weekend call but it was pretty cold so I called up the evening and weekend number and scheduled an emergency repair visit.  It turned out our furnance igniter had gone bad but luckily for us he had a van full of furnace parts and had the one we needed.

The total furnace repair bill was $180. The service call was $120 since it was on a weekend, and the part was $60.

Furnance Maintenance

I questioned the furnace technician as he worked to see what I could do to prevent future $120 weekend service calls.  He said that other than regularly changing our furnance filter there wasn’t much else simple that I could do myself.  He did show me how he cleaned the burner and sensor with some steel wool and just cleaned the dust and dirt out of the furnace cabinet.

He said that although our Carrier furnance was pretty easy to disassemble compared to other brands like Trane, where you need special tools just to take apart the furnace, if I wasn’t familiar with the inner workings of our furnace that my best bet was to get it serviced once a year.

He gave me a sheet with a breakdown of all the things they do in their furnace annual service.  Apparently they take apart the furnace and lubricate all the moving parts and go over the following components:

  • Burner
  • Heat Anticipator
  • Heat Exchanger
  • Safety Controls
  • Air Filter

As part of the maintenance, they also check:

  • Flue for proper drawing
  • Temperature rise through furnace
  • Fan and limit control
  • Proper combustion
  • Gas line & manifold pressure
  • Pressure regulator
  • Blower components

Since I don’t have much spare time, I’ll probably take advantage of their annual tune-up either this winter or next.  Hopefully that will ward off any future emergecy weekend repairs.


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Ben Edwards, the founder of Money Smart Life, saved up enough to buy a Nintendo back when he was 12 years old. When he used the money to buy shares of Wal-Mart stock instead, he knew he wasn't like the other kids... His addiction to personal finance has paid off for his family and now he's helping you to afford the life that you want. Check him out on the web at Google Plus, Twitter and Facebook.

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