When you suspect your furnace is on the fritz, part of the dread that comes with it is knowing it’s going to cost you money to repair. The idea of DIY-ing it may pop into your head and cause you to wonder, “Is DIY furnace repair a good idea?” Well, to answer that — it depends –but probably not.
You might be a very handy person who can wield a hammer with the prowess of Thor. It’s very possible you are practically a pro yourself when it comes to electrical work or plumbing. But . . .
There are a few things you should know about DIY furnace repair. Just because you have the skills to install a new furnace on your own, doesn’t mean you should. And, if your mechanical acumen is shaky, you should really think about spending the money on hiring a furnace repair technician because—
- Insurance will usually deny a claim if there have been faulty workmanship. If you did your own furnace repair or installed a new furnace yourself, and then something goes wrong, like an electrical fire, you are on the hook for the damage. Your insurance will hold whoever performed the work liable for the damages. Do you really want to incur a possibly financially devastating loss just because you wanted to save a couple hundred dollars on professional labor?
- You will void the manufacturer’s warranty. In order to keep your warranty valid, manufacturers often require homeowners to hire insured pros to perform any repairs. This detail is actually stated in the owner’s manual, so going against the fine print can cheat you out of being able to call in your furnace’s warranty if you should ever have the need.
- You will void the warranty if you cannot provide documentation of regular maintenance. Hiring a qualified HVAC company to perform regular seasonal tune-ups will maintain your furnace’s warranty. But, if you tried to save money by forgoing service or doing it yourself, you may have caused more harm than good in the long run.
- If you use off-brand parts, it can also void your warranty. Manufactures always suggest you use OEM (original equipment manufacturer), meaning their parts. So, if you searched for a deal online and are getting your replacement parts from an off-brand company on eBay, the original manufacturer of your furnace won’t be thrilled if you ever try to use the warranty.
- You can still seriously injure yourself. Maybe you are really good at HVAC DIY, but you are still putting yourself, your family, and your home at risk. That risk is absorbed by the HVAC contractor doing the furnace repair when you hire a pro.
- You’ve wasted time fiddling with your furnace; and meanwhile, your family has been freezing—you could have saved yourself time—wasted time and the time your family spent as bundled up human popsicles.
A pro knows exactly how to diagnose problems, how to fix them, and where to get the right OEMs, and do it all much faster than you could.
What You Can Do on Your Own to Keep Your Furnace Running
None of this means you should never touch your furnace. There are steps you need to take to keep it running optimally. If your furnace won’t switch on, be sure to run through a check-list of potential remedies.
Check your thermostat and make sure it has batteries or isn’t malfunctioning in some other way. Also, check and replace the furnace filter. You’d be surprised how often this simple filter is the culprit. It’s also a good idea to take your vacuum with the brush attachment and gently clean internal components. It seems obvious, but you should also check the circuit breaker and fuses as well as check that the gas going to the unit is on.
Beyond scheduling regular furnace tune-ups with an HVAC tech, you need to keep your unit clean and working at its peak by changing the filters at least every six months. Check with your owner’s manual for the suggested filter replacement schedule. You should also lubricate its moving parts and make sure nothing is blocking the outdoor air intakes or the chimney or exhaust flue.
On the Fence Over Whether to DIY the Furnace Repair? Consider a Few Points First.
So, if you are thinking about DIY furnace repair, consider your skill level, amount of time you have to dedicate to the project, and all the factors I listed above before you jump in with your tools. Ultimately, as the homeowner and controller of the wallet, the choice is yours whether you hire an HVAC contractor or you do it yourself.