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Do Natural Gas Boilers and Furnaces Need to Be Cleaned?

Christie Gross

Natural gas boilers and furnaces must both be cleaned each year to ensure that they operate efficiently. Failing to clean them can reduce their efficiency and cause components to break, which can result in a safety hazard. Although you should have a heating system specialist evaluate your gas boiler or furnace performance annually, you can perform a thorough cleaning of them yourself.


Burners rarely become dirty because they operate in a closed environment.

Natural gas boilers and furnaces provide heat to homes, either through hot water or steam, in the case of boilers, or through hot air forced through ducts, in the case of furnaces. The U.S. Department of Energy states that natural gas and propane are the primary fuel sources for most boilers and furnaces in homes throughout the United States.

How to Clean Your Boiler or Furnace

Shut off the switch to the main natural gas supply that fuels your boiler or furnace. Let the system sit and cool for a few hours before you attempt to handle the parts. Remove the front panel by loosening its screws with a screwdriver. Consult your owner's manual for instructions for locating the heat exchanger. Remove dust from around the heat exchanger with a rag or small brush and go over the blower blades until they are wiped clean. Use a wet/dry vacuum cleaner or a hand-held vacuum to completely eliminate dirt inside the boiler or furnace. Reassemble each unit by replacing the panel and fastening the screws.


The Contractor Directory recommends having your natural gas boiler or furnace inspected by a heating system specialist at least every 2 to 3 years or every year if you have a pet. The specialist should evaluate the venting system to guarantee it's in good working order. He should review the heat exchanger on either system, to make certain there are no water leaks in the boiler, or that the furnace is not emitting any natural gas fumes into household air. Finally, he should review the boiler or furnace system controls and settings for energy usage to promote optimal performance.

Automatic Shut-Down

Most natural gas boilers and furnaces shut down automatically when a problem is detected. However, do not wait until this occurs to finally clean your system, as an automatic shut-down usually indicates a more serious problem.