Do you turn off furnaces for summer?

5 Replies

Do you turn off your furnaces for the summer? My tenants pay their own heat so this has no impact to my expenses but have been told turning off ther furnaces in the summer may extend the life of some components of the furnace. I did find a post on the internet whereby one person claimed that turning the furnace off in the summer might create more maintenance problems than less.

We turned off the gas heaters in the summer, because just the pilot light can create heat.  Our apartments were utilities included.  But, the power and gas company had a free service where they would turn off and turn on pilot lights, and check and even clean gas appliances for leaks, etc.  (meaning they'd clean the pilot lights).  This was in Santa Clara CA, and the power company was PG&E.

It's amazing how much a pilot light can heat up a room.  Our units were mainly tiny studios.  But, even the pilot lights on the gas stoves would really heat up the kitchens, which also had gas hot water heaters in them.

Never had any issues with the gas heaters being lit/unlit.  It gave us the opportunity to check them for leaks, etc., twice a year.  And, like I said, the power company would even do basic checks for free.

You could explain to your tenants that it will save them money in air conditioning, and it would also give you a good excuse to do a quick inspection at the same time.

I'm no HVAC expert, but my experience with the above would lead me to believe that there would be no danger to damage with your units, if you turned them off in summer.

If you have an old-timey gas or oil furnace with a pilot light, I could see how turning off the pilot light could save you a few bucks. But most modern furnaces have electronic ignition, so there is no pilot light to burn. The only appliance I have in my house with a pilot light is the water heater. I do turn it down to the vacation setting if I'm going to be gone for awhile. That just means it won't turn on to heat the water while I'm gone. The pilot light remains lit, though. It's just too big of a pain to turn it back on, so I leave it on.

Originally posted by @Peter Fokas :

Do you turn off your furnaces for the summer? My tenants pay their own heat so this has no impact to my expenses but have been told turning off ther furnaces in the summer may extend the life of some components of the furnace. I did find a post on the internet whereby one person claimed that turning the furnace off in the summer might create more maintenance problems than less.

We don't turn our furnaces off because in our climate there are sometimes cool summer days and heat may be needed.  We do use the fan feature (on/off/auto) to keep air circulating as needed. This is especially important in the moist environment of the Pacific Northwest.... or should I say Pacific North"wet". We also use the "vacation" setting on the hot water heater when away for a few days and we show tenants how to use that too.

I've never heard that turning furnaces off will extend the life of components and/or create more maintenance problems. But if the appliance (furnace, hot water heater, range, dryer) is fueled by natural gas, we prefer the type with electronic ignition instead of a standing pilot light. The pilot lights do create a little heat, but not a significant amount. 

We still have a few appliances with pilot lights. If a pilot light goes out, we will relight it for the tenant; it's not worth risking tenants messing with open flames (lighter) and natural gas (fuel). Newer appliances with pilot lights are likely to have a button to push to relight the pilot, instead of requiring a hand-held lighter; that's a good safety feature. However, one still must know the proper steps to follow even when using the button. That's why we prefer these to be "off limits" for our tenants. We teach our tenants how to use the emergency shut offs for water, gas, electricity... then when and how to contact us!

Originally posted by @Peter Fokas :

Do you turn off your furnaces for the summer? My tenants pay their own heat so this has no impact to my expenses but have been told turning off ther furnaces in the summer may extend the life of some components of the furnace. I did find a post on the internet whereby one person claimed that turning the furnace off in the summer might create more maintenance problems than less.

We don't turn our furnaces off because in our climate there are sometimes cool summer days and heat may be needed.  We do use the fan feature (on/off/auto) to keep air circulating as needed. This is especially important in the moist environment of the Pacific Northwest.... or should I say Pacific North"wet". We also use the "vacation" setting on the hot water heater when away for a few days and we show tenants how to use that too.

I've never heard that turning furnaces off will extend the life of components and/or create more maintenance problems. But if the appliance (furnace, hot water heater, range, dryer) is fueled by natural gas, we prefer the type with electronic ignition instead of a standing pilot light. The pilot lights do create a little heat, but not a significant amount. 

We still have a few appliances with pilot lights. If a pilot light goes out, we will relight it for the tenant; it's not worth risking tenants messing with open flames (lighter) and natural gas (fuel). Newer appliances with pilot lights are likely to have a button to push to relight the pilot, instead of requiring a hand-held lighter; that's a good safety feature. However, one still must know the proper steps to follow even when using the button. That's why we prefer these to be "off limits" for our tenants. We teach our tenants how to use the emergency shut offs for water, gas, electricity... then when and how to contact us!

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