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Your Guide To Gas Heater Servicing

Regularly servicing of your gas heater is very important if you want the appliance to last long. This helps keep the heater in good condition, preventing unnecessary emergency repairs.

You can do servicing and cleaning yourself if you have the skills and tools needed for the task, but it is best to have the job done by a professional. This article will assist you through the process of servicing your gas heater.

Types Of Gas Heater Services

There are two main types of gas heater servicing, which are:

Gas Heater Repair

A gas heater repair is done when the heater is not functioning properly. Experts advise that this servicing be done every one or two years depending on the gas heater model and the manufacturer’s advice.

Rinnai, which is one of the most popular brands of gas heaters in Australia, recommends a yearly gas heater repair service for their appliances. Other manufacturers have their recommendations for both fixed and portable gas heater repairs. So, you need to go through your manual.

A typical portable gas heater repair includes the following:

  • Cleaning of filters
  • Safety testing of carbon monoxide level
  • Checking the setting of the gas pressure
  • Replacing the thermocouple if needed
  • Cleaning, servicing, and possible replacement of the pilot injector
  • Cleaning of the flame sensor
  • Cleaning and unclogging of the burners
  • Inspecting the heat exchanger for damage and leakage
  • Inspecting and testing gas heater fan motors

Heater repair also includes cleaning flues in open-flued heaters and other procedures required for the specific model of the gas heater you have. Gas heater repairs need to be scheduled periodically to examine if the heater is working perfectly and also to do some safety checks.

A good and timely gas heater repair will not only save you money in the long run by avoiding gas replacement, but it will also keep you safe, especially from carbon monoxide poisoning. A licensed gas fitter should only do this repair. It is not a DIY activity.

Gas Heater Cleaning

Gas heater cleaning is essential for the health of your gas heater. Almost all the gas heaters with fans have filters that require regular cleaning. The owner can do this cleaning. While it is essential to consult your appliance manual for instructions on how to clean your appliance, the steps below can also act as a guide.

Before you start cleaning, ensure that you have the following; screwdrivers, stiff bristled brush, new furnace filter, emery cloth, ratchet and socket, vacuum with an upholstery brush attachment, and lightweight machine oil.

Step One: Switch off power and gas supply to the furnace

Use the breaker to turn off power to the furnace and shut down the gas by turning the valve 90 degrees.

Step Two: Clean the furnace’s surface

  • Use a damp rag to clean the external surface of the furnace.
  • Lift the furnace access door so that you can remove and bring it out.
  • Loosen the screws.
  • Carefully remove the burner cover if there is one.
  • Use a household vacuum cleaner with a wand or upholstery attachment on the base of the burner and furnace.
  • Lift the blower door and vacuum the area.
  • Examine the furnace for soot, and if you find some, it is a sign of poor combustion, which needs professional attention.

Step Three: Remove the blower

Unscrew the control panel if it obstructs the blower. You can then use a socket and ratchet to remove the bolts that hold the blower. Remember to do this gently.

Step Four: Clean the blower gently

Carefully clean the blower taking care not to tamper with the wiring distribution and counterweights on the blades of the fan. Do this using a vacuum cleaner with a small brush.

Step Five: Clean the igniter and pilot

Carefully remove dust from the pilot by blowing into a drinking straw. If the heater is new, you may have to clean the igniter as well. Do not touch this part as it is quite fragile. After cleaning, replace the furnace door gently.

Step Six: Clean the flame sensor

  • Bring the flame sensor down out of its bracket
  • Clean it gently with a fine emery cloth
  • Put the flame sensor back

Step Seven: Inspect the drive belt

Examine the blower belt to see if there are cracks. If you find cracks, replace the belt. A replacement costs about $10. Install the new belt to deflect between ½ and ¾ inches.

Step Eight: Apply lubricant

Remove and clean all oil caps. Apply oil to the blower motors and shaft bearings. Do not apply too much lubricant; two or three drops are okay.

Step Nine: Replace the air filter

This should be done once every quarter to protect the system. Stick to the manufacturer’s specification and upgrade to a higher efficiency filter.

Step Ten: Activate the burners

Switch on the power and gas and turn up the thermostat to activate the burners. Verify if the flame is blue and evenly burning. If you see a yellow flame, it is a sign of a dirty burner, and you need to call a professional gas fitter.

Step Eleven: Adjust the dampers

If you use your heating duct for air conditioning as well, switch it to seasonal mode.

How Often Should I Service My Gas Heater?

Like all other appliances, a trained professional should service a gas heater regularly if you want it to serve you efficiently. Experts recommend that a gas heater be serviced at least once a year by a certified gas heater servicing professional. This will keep the heater in good condition, and it will serve you well, especially during the cold season.

Advantages Of Servicing Your Gas Heater Regularly

Reduces your energy bills

Following the manufacturer’s servicing schedule ensures that the gas heating system is energy-efficient, and that translates to reduced monthly energy consumption. During the servicing of the gas appliance, the heater repair expert will carry out the necessary repair and maintenance work to ensure that the heater is functioning optimally.

The servicing technician will apply lubricants on all the moving parts of the heater to reduce friction. They will also replace clogged filters that would ordinarily cause the heater to work harder to heat your home. Your gas heater will operate more efficiently with regular servicing, and your energy bill will come down.

Keeps your warranty valid

Most gas heater manufacturers insist that you service your appliance at least once a year. Failure to do this will automatically void your warranty. Warranties are very important; they can save you a whole lot of money when you need to do a major repair. By servicing your gas heaters regularly, your warranty will remain intact.

Prevents carbon monoxide poisoning

It would be for the best if you regularly serviced your gas heater to prevent carbon monoxide poisoning in your home. Carbon monoxide, when inhaled, denies your body the oxygen it needs, which might result in a fatality. The problem with carbon monoxide is it’s odourless and colourless, which makes detection very difficult, and that is why the gas is referred to as the silent killer.

Exposure to this gas can also cause nausea, dizziness, and migraines. In Australia alone, the gas is estimated to be responsible for the hospitalisation of over 10,000 individuals every year. This has led to measures by the government to eradicate open-flue gas heaters in Australia.

A reputable gas technician will examine the gas heater to find out if it is functioning properly and then make the needed changes to ensure that the people around are not exposed to deadly gases.

Extends your heater’s lifespan

Aside from improving the working efficiency of the gas heater, regular servicing will also prolong its lifespan. A build-up of dirt can shorten the lifespan of a heater because the particles cause the heat exchanger to do more work than necessary before it can warm your house.

During routine servicing, the technician will clean the furnace and replace worn-out parts so that your heater can work smoothly, thereby extending its lifespan.

Gas Heater Maintenance Tips

  • Hire licensed personnel: Your gas heater should only be serviced by trusted hands.
  • Service frequency: Follow the instructions of your appliance manufacturer. Most recommend that these appliances be serviced every one to two years. For instance, Rinnai and Bosch recommend every two years, while Rheem and Paloma recommend that you service the heater each year.
  • Consult your heater’s manual: Always consult your heater’s manual, and be sure to check what it says regarding safety precautions to take when servicing the appliance.
  • Look out for warning signs: Always look out for warning signs. A yellow or red flame should concern you. Also, look out for yellow or brown soot around the appliance and pilot light. If this deposit gives out an acrid odour causing eye irritation, call a professional immediately.
  • Regular cleaning: Gas heaters should be cleaned regularly.
  • Hoses and connections: Always inspect hoses and connections and make sure they are tested for leaks.
  • Check flue pipes: Flue pipes should be checked for damages, blockages, and rusting.
  • Inspect regulators: Gas regulators have a lifespan, so inspect and replace yours when necessary.
  • Check the gas pressure: Improper gas pressure can affect the amount of oxygen going to the burner. This can lead to incomplete combustion and subsequent production of carbon monoxide.
  • Use the correct LPG gas: Every heater has its recommended LPG gas. Use the recommended type.

Servicing A Heater Is Not A DIY Activity

Should you service your own gas heater? A gas heater is complex, and so you should not try servicing one yourself even if it’s to save on gas heater service costs. Although you should clean the appliance as regularly as you can, routine gas heater repair and servicing should be done by a professional. A professional will carry out a proper assessment of your system and make sure your appliance is working perfectly and your safety is guaranteed.

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