When I first raised the thermostat setting in the fall, the furnace started up without any problem.
However, there was a musty smell and quite a bit of dust coming from the vents.
I hoped that these issues were caused by sitting idle from mid April until the end of October. Unfortunately, this past winter was especially brutal. We experienced temperatures down to negative twenty-five degrees. The conditions were well below freezing for months at a time, and the wind chill made the air feel even colder. The furnace seemed to run all the time. I adjusted the thermostat setting a few degrees higher several times, because the house felt chilly. The heater simply couldn’t keep up with demand. My utility bills were huge. I should have realized that these were all warning signs of a problem with the furnace. Instead, I totally ignored the concerns until the heater quit completely. It failed during the middle of the night, when the weather was so cold there was no way we could get by without heat. I worried about the water pipes freezing and bursting. I had no choice but to pay extra for emergency furnace repair. The technician who fixed the heater told me that the malfunction was entirely caused by a buildup of dust within the mechanism. He said that seasonal maintenance would have prevented the need for the super expensive service call. He also told me that I was very lucky the failure of the furnace hadn’t resulted in a crack in the heat exchanger. Because I’d neglected annual tune-ups, the warranty didn’t cover the cost of parts or labor.