HVAC service companies often advertise furnace certifications. While the process tends to be expensive at $150 or so, homeowners do often buy.
If you are tempted to do so yourself, there are two things that you should know. To begin, certifications are only required when one sells a home. A certification helps prove to potential homebuyers that the furnace that comes with a home is safe to use. It’s also important to know that it takes a highly qualified furnace inspector to perform a certification. It isn’t a simple process. There’s no such thing as a quick certification inspection, unless corners are cut. It’s never a good idea to take the purchase of a certification service lightly.
What kind of shortcuts are taken?
To be certified, a furnace must have various components closely inspected, especially the heat exchanger. Among other tests, the inspector visually checks them for cracks or other damage.
The problem is that furnace innards are usually extremely inaccessible. Over the course of simple inspections, inspectors are usually only able to see the side of the heat exchanger that faces the burner. This part of the furnace is usually rusty and dirty. It can be impossible to visually spot a crack. It’s the rare furnace model that comes with removable panels around the heat exchanger to allow a good look.
For this reason, rather than perform thorough checks, inspectors will usually simply use the Orsat test. In the test, inspectors attempt to make educated guesses without actually performing difficult visual tests. The Orsat test measures temperatures, levels of carbon monoxide and oxygen. These may or may not reveal the presence of serious issues such as cracks.
What does a worthwhile certification service involve?
Qualified certification inspectors come in with the full arsenal of tools to get to every important furnace component . They will take the appliance apart, and use tools such as smoke bombs and borescopes. It can take hours.
Any test that doesn’t involve these tools will usually achieve very little.
Finding a good certification service
If you’re selling your home, or feel the need to have your furnace thoroughly checked out for any reason, you need to ask for a good certification service, rather than a simple inspection. Before you buy, though, you need to make sure that the inspector plans to use the full complement of tests available.