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Boiler & Furnace Maintenance Tips | Pittsburgh PA | Top Notch


Summer is gone. Regrettably the time has come to prepare for another unpredictable Pittsburgh winter. Did you know that gas furnaces and gas hot water or steam boilers need periodic tune-ups to stay in tip-top running shape? Just like a car.

Any heating system young or hold requires maintenance. Proper maintenance is the best way to give your furnace or boiler a long life. It’s also the best way to ensure you don’t wake up on winter’s morning to a cold house with no heat.

Although boilers and furnaces have different parts and operate differently, they share some of the same maintenance needs. Each also has their own unique maintenance requirements. In this post, the Pittsburgh boiler and furnace maintenance pros at Top Notch Heating & Cooling look at a few common heating system maintenance needs.


  • Check the Venting System & Chimney – The condition of a home’s vent connection pipe and chimney can deteriorate over time. It’s recommended that a trained professional assesses their condition. Chimney problems are common with old Pittsburgh houses and can often be expensive to fix. Sometimes installing new heating equipment that bypasses an existing chimney may actually be more cost-effective.
  • Check Heat Exchanger Condition – It’s important to assess the physical integrity of a boiler and furnace’s heat exchanger. A leaky boiler heat exchanger will be noticeable and could be due to overheating, freezing, or pump failure. However, a leaky heat exchanger in a furnace is potentially dangerous. Heat exchanger leaks can release varying amounts of combustion gases into the air you and your family breathe.
  • Adjust Controls – To increase both comfort and efficiency, adjust boiler and furnace controls for optimum water or air temperature settings.
  • Boiler & Furnace Combustion-Efficiency Testing – If your heating system is a bit dated, a periodic combustion-efficiency test will tell you how effectively fuel is being utilized in the combustion process. This will identify if the unit needs to be retrofitted or altogether replaced.


  • Check Combustion Chamber for Cracks – A cracked combustion chamber may let flue gases circulate in the air throughout the house. Carbon monoxide exposure is obviously the main threat in this scenario. A crack near the burner also presents fire and electrical risks.
  • Carbon Monoxide Testing – Furnaces between the ages of 5 to 10 years old should be checked for carbon monoxide gas leaks by a professional service technician.
  • Clean the Furnace – It’s important to clean the furnace’s exterior, vacuum its interior, and clean the blower, pilot light/igniter and flame sensor each year. Air filters should also be regularly inspected and replaced. You want to rid the unit of efficiency-reducing/allergen-inducing dirt, soot, and dust buildup.
  • Check for and Seal Leaky Ducts – Tracking down and sealing leaks in forced-air ductwork each year can potentially save you a ton of money. Ensure connections between the furnace and main ducts are sufficiently sealed.


  • Monitor Pressure – Monitoring the pressure of a hot water heating system is critical. Most boilers can only withstand 12 to 15 pounds of pressure. If pressure exceeds 30 pounds, the boiler can be seriously damaged and even become dangerous.
  • Test Pressure Relief (TPR) Valve – Mineral salt buildup, rust, and corrosion can make the TPR valve non-operational. This prevents it from opening to release pressure buildup in the water heater. Therefore, it’s necessary to test this valve to confirm its in working order.
  • Inspect Pressure Tank – It’s important to make sure the hot water expansion tank is filled with air, not water.
  • Clean Heat Exchanger – If your hot water system uses a heat exchanger, it will need to be cleaned to maintain optimal performance.


  • Drainage – To improve the efficiency of the heat exchanger and prevent sediment clogs, drain some water from the boiler and float chamber to flush out sediment.
  • Test Low-Water Cutoff & High-Limit Safety Controls – Low-water cutoff controls are like anti-lock brakes in an automobile. They help prevent accidents but can fail without proper maintenance and regular testing. A steam boiler’s high-limit control is rarely called upon under normal conditions but must be tested to confirm it can stop the burner or another heat source when needed.
  • Boiler Water Analysis – It’s a good idea to check boiler water and add any necessary chemicals to prevent corrosion and control deposits.


Sure, some homeowners are knowledgeable enough to follow direction and handle routine boiler and furnace maintenance tasks themselves. But the annual tuneups and preventative maintenance provided by the Top Notch Heating & Cooling team offer unmatched safety and thoroughness. Take care of what you’ve got and don’t let yourself fall victim to emergency repair rates. Our boiler and furnace maintenance in Pittsburgh is second to none and will save you considerable money in the long run. Call us today at 412-381-0598.