Furnace Tune Up Cost and Guide 2019

A furnace tune up costs $115 to $200 based on the checklist of services included. Average cost is $140.

A furnace tune up should be done yearly to every five years based on a range of factors.

Full furnace maintenance details and costs are explained below.

Furnace Tune Up Overview

This guide covers these furnace maintenance topics:

  • Furnace tune up checklist
  • Furnace tune up cost
  • How frequently a furnace should be maintained
  • Furnace tune up service agreement pros and cons
  • Furnace tune up scams

Furnace Tune Up: What and Why?

A furnace tune up or furnace basic maintenance includes cleaning the furnace interior, inspecting all parts and providing additional maintenance as needed.

The purpose of tuning up a furnace is to:

  • Optimize efficiency and performance
  • Check safety issues
  • Find and fix minor repairs before they cause major mechanical failures

A clean, well-maintained furnace will keep your home comfortable, reduce energy costs and run safely.

Furnace Tune Up Checklist

What is done during a furnace tune-up?

Here’s the checklist and purpose for each step:

Inspect the flue for a tight connection: Before starting the furnace, the technician should take a look to make sure combustion exhaust gases including carbon monoxide will leave through the flue rather than leak.

Check and clean or change a dirty filter: A dirty filter makes the furnace work too hard, wastes energy and can cause mechanical damage.

Start the furnace: This is done to check basic operation – make sure the draft motor starts, the burner fires and the blower comes on and sounds like it is running properly.

Clean the furnace interior: This step includes vacuuming out debris and using cleaner and a cloth to clean the burners and pilot assembly or hot surface igniter. The blower motor and its “cage” will also be cleaned.

The igniter will often be cleaned with emery cloth or sandpaper to remove carbon and improve performance.

Test the ignitor: Over time, an igniter will wear out. As it does, less charge gets through it. Eventually, it won’t work. This video discusses this important step and shows how you can do this yourself. https://youtu.be/D5ZL05RspWw

Adjust the pilot: Few furnaces still have pilots. If yours does, the technician will adjust it to optimal height.

Adjust the burners: This important step ensures the burners are burning at maximum efficiency.

Check and adjust the gas pressure and the air mix: This ensures safety and the cleanest burning of the burners.

Check electrical components: A range of parts are inspected and tested – Thermostat contacts, safety switches, limit control which prevents overheating, fan control and wiring.

Maintain blower assembly: The motor will be checked and lubricated, if needed. Blower speed might be adjusted to optimize airflow. The wheel will be cleaned and inspected.

Inspect visible ducts for leaks: Leaking ducts waste up to 30% of the heat created.

Clean an indoor coil: If your furnace contains an AC coil, it will be cleaned and inspected for leaks. See our AC Tune Up Guide for full details.

Inspect the heat exchanger: Air from your ductwork flows over the heat exchangers to be heated and dispersed in your home. A cracked heat exchanger will leak deadly carbon monoxide into your home. It usually means furnace replacement.

The #1 furnace scam involves the heat exchanger. See details below.

Start the furnace again: After the furnace tune up, the tech will fire the furnace again to make sure it runs as it should.
The technician might write up a report to show what was checked, its condition and the maintenance that was done.
The report might also suggest repairs or possibly furnace replacement. More on this topic below.

Furnace Tune Up Cost

As noted, the range in most areas is $115 to $200. If the cost of living where you live is much lower or higher than average, prices might be lower.

Low estimates: There are two other reasons for low estimates, “$79 fall specials,” for example.  

First, the heating and air conditioning company might legitimately be trying to attract new customers. They offer a great deal on furnace maintenance, and do a thorough job. When you have a repair or want to replace the furnace, you call that company. Nothing wrong with that approach.

The other reason for low tune up costs is that the tech is going to find something wrong with your furnace, whether there is a real problem or not. See Scams below.

High costs: When a furnace tune up cost is $175 or higher, the company probably has all the business it wants. That’s one sign of a well-respected company. However, it could also mean they’re lazy – figuring they will get less work if they charge more, but might still make the same amount of money in the end.

  • 4 tune ups x $100 = $400
  • 2 tune ups x $200 = $400

We discuss below how to find a reputable HVAC company to tune up your furnace.

Regardless of cost, it is important to learn about companies before you hire one.

How Often Should a Furnace Be Tuned Up?

The answer to this common question is that it depends on two factors.

How heavily it is used: Furnaces get heavier use in cold climates, so need to be maintained every few years.

Hot climate? Remember that the furnace supports central air conditioning, so if you use AC a lot, the furnace needs to be maintained every few years.

Moderate climate? If you don’t heat or cool heavily, a furnace tune up can be delayed for 3-6 years.

How old the furnace is: As a furnace ages, mechanical issues become more likely. If your furnace is 12+ years old, especially if heavily used, then you might want it inspected and tuned up every year or two. This will reduce the risk of it failing during the worst weather of the winter or summer.

Pro tip: If it has been a few years since your furnace was cleaned and tuned, and you have a furnace repair, ask the tech to clean it at the same time the repair is made. Ask for a discounted price, since the tech is already there.

Furnace Tune Up Plans – Good and Bad

The cost of a furnace tune up agreement is $150 to $350. They can save you a lot of money on repairs and furnace replacement, but if you don’t use it, the money is wasted.

A furnace maintenance agreement – or tune up contract – ensures your furnace will be maintained once or twice per year.

Most have other perks including one or more of following:

  • Priority repair service: If your furnace breaks down, you’ll be first in line for repairs. This might include standard repair costs instead of higher costs for evenings and weekends.
  • Discounts: Expect 5% to 15% discounts on most repairs, repair parts and new furnace installation.

Our recommendation: A furnace tune up and maintenance contract is not a good value while the furnace is under warranty. Warranties on cheap furnaces are 5 years. They are 10 or 12 years for quality furnaces.

When the warranty expires, a furnace service contract becomes a better value, especially if the furnace has already had major repair issues and you’re concerned it will break down soon.

Check and compare furnace maintenance agreements from several heating and cooling companies before choosing the best value for the money. Be sure the provider is reputable, the last topic discussed in this guide.

Furnace Tune Up Scams

Some technicians look for bogus repair issues during their furnace tune up. A few unscrupulous companies give bonuses to techs for finding things they can repair whether the repair is real or not.

Most HVAC companies and technicians are honest and reliable. Even some that might cheat know that their reputation will suffer if they get caught – bad Google or Yelp reviews, low BBB ratings.

Still, some bad apples run scam operations.

Common fake furnace repair claims are:

  • Your heat exchanger is cracked, and you’ll be poisoned with carbon monoxide if you run the furnace
  • The blower motor is about to fail
  • The AC coil in the furnace is leaking
  • Your ducts must be cleaned (many reasons might be given)

First, we don’t recommend duct cleaning unless someone in your home has severe breathing issues. Even then, the cleaning might not improve air quality.

Most duct cleaning is ineffective or worse – it loosens dust and allergens in the ducts, and they end up in the air you breathe.

Only consider duct cleaning when animals have gotten into them, there is visible mold or foul odors are coming from the grates.

Get a second opinion: If major repairs are “diagnosed,” tell the technician you’re going to have another company inspect the furnace.

If the tech promises you a big discount on the spot but pressures you to sign a contract for repair or replacement, that’s a red flag you’re being lied to about the repair.

It makes sense to get another opinion before spending $500 or more on furnace repair or $1,500 or more on replacement.

When you get a repair estimate, it might be helpful to compare it with costs listed in our annual Gas Furnace Repair Cost Guide

Choosing a Furnace Repair Company

If you need furnace repair, do your research before hiring one.

Ask friends and family for recommendations on an HVAC company. Make a short list, and check their reviews on Google and ratings with the Better Business Bureau.

Call to ask about pricing and what services are provided during furnace maintenance. You might want to ask about their long-term service contracts and their cost.

This process can take a few weeks.

If you’d like a quicker approach, our Free Local Quotes service is fast and convenient. The furnace companies are pre-screened for experience, and they are licensed and insured.

Fill out the quick form or call the number, and you’ll receive estimates from top HVAC contractors in your area. The service is free to use, and you’re not obligated to accept any of the estimates.

Even with the service, we recommend that you check local reviews and ratings before hiring a furnace repair company.

Looking for tips for AC tune up, read our Central AC tune up guide here.

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