Essential Guide to Furnace Cleaning in Calgary (Plus Duct Cleaning)

May 21, 2024

Furnace cleaning is essential in all homes but when furnaces are responsible for keeping families warm for many months on end, it’s doubly important to look after them.

Most furnace and duct cleaning in Calgary requires professional eyes and hands but there are also one or two tasks you can do regularly yourself to maintain optimal furnace efficiency and comfort levels.

Taking good care of your furnace with regular cleaning and maintenance will also help to keep monthly energy bills manageable and extend your furnace’s life, saving you from unnecessary outlays on furnace repairs or installing a premature replacement.

Here’s what you need to know about furnace and duct cleaning in Calgary…

Table of Contents

How does the Calgary climate affect a furnace’s cleaning requirements?

Furnaces are complex mechanical systems responsible for many tasks. They need to filter and heat cool air, distribute it around the home, remove harmful gases, and remain efficient and safe at all times. Like all mechanical systems, they will start to fail if they are neglected.

In the Calgary climate, we ask our furnaces to work harder for longer than in many other locations.

Working overtime can put a strain on furnaces as they try to maintain comfortable indoor temperatures. When this happens, furnace components that haven’t been maintained properly may struggle. Also, a furnace that is not cleaned becomes less efficient and this will add to the strain—and increase the monthly fuel bills.

The resulting problems can lead to poor air quality in the home and even heating system failure—not something that any Calgary homeowner wants to contemplate for too long.

In colder climates like Calgary, therefore, it’s essential to clean your furnace and change filters regularly, as well as schedule at least annual furnace maintenance in the fall before the coldest weather descends.

The importance of effective airflow for furnace performance

Maintaining sufficient airflow in your furnace system is one of the most important ways to ensure efficient heating performance.

Anything that interrupts or impedes this airflow—such as a lack of cleaning leading to dirt, dust, and pet dander buildup—is likely to impact performance. Even clean-burning, modern gas furnaces will generate a lot of residues from the combustion process. If this is allowed to build up, it will harm furnace efficiency.

Dirty filters, clogged coils and blowers, and other signs of neglected cleaning will exert extra strain on the system, use more energy, and lead to performance issues.

It is estimated that cleaning heating systems that are even a little dirty can result in energy savings of 11 percent. Other research indicates that 25-40 percent of the energy used for heating or cooling can be wasted due to air pollutants forcing an HVAC system to work harder from restricted airflow. 

The cost savings from a clean system with unimpeded airflow are on top of the other significant benefits that come from regular cleaning…

Benefits of regular furnace cleaning

Professional furnace cleaning is associated with many benefits for homeowners…

  • Enhanced heating performance: a lack of cleaning can result in tepid, lukewarm or even cool air blowing from a furnace. Regular cleaning maintains comfort levels with the desired level of warm air heating the home.
  • Enhanced indoor air quality: regular cleaning ensures that pollutants like dust particles and other contaminants are kept out of the home’s heating system and out of the air that you and your family breathe. This is especially important if you have allergy sufferers who are susceptible to pollutants in the household.
  • Lower repair costs: the average furnace repair costs in Calgary can mount up unless you look after your furnace. Regular cleaning keeps these costs down, especially because a professional furnace technician can check the furnace for issues such as gas leaks or blockages during cleaning and flag problems early before they require emergency repairs.
  • Extended life expectancy of the furnace system: regular cleaning means that components suffer less strain, which can extend their life and prevent the need for premature furnace replacement. According to the Heating, Refrigeration, and Air Conditioning Institute of Canada (HRAI), regular cleaning and maintenance can extend the life of an HVAC system by several years. Most modern, high-quality furnaces can last 15-20 years.

Besides these benefits, it’s common sense that if you’ve paid the significant costs of installing a furnace system, you need to protect your investment with regular cleaning and maintenance. This will provide the peace of mind that you’re doing the right thing for your furnace and your family.

Common signs that your furnace needs cleaning

Typically, we see the same issues come up again and again when furnace troubleshooting in Calgary homes. Many problems relate to a lack of regular furnace maintenance and cleaning…

Clogged air filters

If you hold your furnace filter up to the light and you can’t see through it, the filter is way beyond needing changing.

As the first line of defence against polluted, dusty, and contaminated air, clogged air filters can lead to a range of furnace problems. If this line of defence fails, the entire furnace system is exposed to dirt and grime that can impact the performance of key components as well as health.

Clogged blower motor

A furnace’s blower motor is responsible for operating the fan that helps circulate heated air throughout the home. 

If this becomes clogged with dust and debris, furnace efficiency can be drastically reduced, leading to increased demands on energy and other components in the system.

Blocked furnace flue

Furnace flues are responsible for expelling the combustion gases from your home to the outdoors. They have a critical furnace safety role to play as many of the byproducts of the heating system are potentially harmful to health.

If these fumes are not expelled properly, it could be due to a blockage that needs to be removed.

Ducting blockages

Ducting delivers the warm air from the heating system to the rooms of your home. If warm air is not reaching all rooms, it could be due to blocked ducting. This may indicate that your furnace’s ductwork needs cleaning or simply that a blockage needs to be removed.

Poor indoor air quality

Indoor air quality impacts both the comfort levels and health of families. Healthy air quality should be maintained so that it remains free of allergens, contaminants, and toxins.

A clean furnace helps you do that but if cleaning is neglected, the furnace can rapidly stop filtering out harmful dust and other particles that enter the heating system. Ultimately, these can end up in the lungs of your family.

Higher energy bills

A less efficient furnace means increased energy usage, which most homeowners will eventually notice in their inexplicably higher bills.

How to clean your furnace

The basic steps for furnace cleaning are as follows:

Clean or replace your furnace filter regularly

Some furnace filters are reusable and need to be regularly cleaned. You can learn how to do that here.  However, most furnace filters are disposable and need to be replaced every 2-3 months.

The simple task of replacing an air filter has multiple benefits and can prevent many common furnace problems—and homeowners can manage this task themselves. Just keep a supply of filters handy and follow the instructions to replace the old filter.

Light vacuuming

Homeowners can lightly vacuum to remove obvious dust and debris from around the furnace. This will help prevent harmful contaminants from entering the furnace system and keep things looking neat and tidy…

Book a deeper clean at least once a year

You might handwash your car from time to time but a full service, clean, and detail by a professional will keep it in good working order. The same applies to your furnace.

Even if you vacuum regularly and change the filter every few months, furnaces in Calgary need deeper professional cleaning at least once a year because they work so hard.

Service tune-ups and maintenance calls will usually include cleaning essential components such as the blower, coils, heat exchanger, and all surfaces that are exposed to the airflow within the system. These must all remain clean and free of debris to avoid problems with blocked airflow. 

However, if your cleaning has been neglected for a while, you may need more than a standard service or tune-up—with deeper cleaning including the ductwork, vents, registers, and more.

How to clean furnace ducts in Calgary

Your furnace’s ductwork is a series of metal ducts that provide a channel through which air flows to your home. The air emerges through vents in each room of the home, either in the ceiling, walls or flooring.

The ductwork and vents are susceptible to moisture buildup in summer when the furnace is usually off. This can lead to the formation of mold and mildew if humidity levels are not managed, which can be particularly problematic for people with respiratory illnesses or allergies in Calgary homes.

Ductwork can also become blocked with dust, hair, and other debris over time if the furnace is not well maintained. Even furnace filters that are changed regularly cannot catch every pollutant.

Basic duct cleaning may be a component of some tune-ups but to maintain an efficient and healthy system, specialist furnace duct cleaning services may be required every two or three years. 

These services generally use a push-pull negative air pressure method for duct cleaning. The air is compressed and the resultant negative air pressure creates a powerful pull to suck the dust and debris out of the ducts. Other specialist tools can be used to push, agitate, and remove the dirt and grime simultaneously.

As you may have guessed, duct cleaning is a job for professionals—not a DIY job.

How often should you clean a furnace in Alberta?

The general rule for furnace cleaning is to book a tune-up and clean once every year—preferably before the coldest weather hits. In Calgary, this normally means around September or October.

You may need slightly more regular cleaning if your furnace is old or allergy/asthma sufferers or pets are in the household—and you’ll need to be extra diligent about changing furnace filters regularly.

Reliable furnace cleaning in Calgary

In Calgary, our winters are too cold to live without a high-performance furnace. The simplest way to ensure high performance is to perform regular cleaning.

For safety, air quality, energy efficiency, and comfort levels in your home, schedule a year-round furnace tune-up, which includes inspections and testing of all key components as well as cleaning,

All of our furnace professionals are SAIT-certified and trained to service any type or brand of furnace in Calgary.

Call us at 403-236-4366 or contact us online to book furnace maintenance.

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