It's strange to ask that question, as we are, in the end of August, isn't it? Not if you know how the heating business works. See, if it's the end of August, it means that fall is right around the corner -- and with fall comes a drop in temperatures. Not enough that many of you will be cranking up the heater right away, but enough that you will be soon -- and that, in turn, makes fall the right time to have your annual heater maintenance done. Which makes right now the right time to call heating services and get your annual maintenance scheduled.
In the strictest sense, no -- no more than an annual trip to the dentist is necessary for your teeth to continue functioning. There may be a few heating services whose warranties will automatically void if you don't keep up with your annual maintenance checkups -- but they're few and far between. Assuming your heater doesn't come from one of them, your main motivation for a maintenance checkup is that every annual checkup adds somewhere upwards of six month's life to a heater -- that's a 50% increase in lifespan! If you've checked the price of a new heater lately, you'll be able to easily calculate out the fact that ten or twenty $100 annual checkups isn't worth nearly as much as you'll pay to buy a whole new heater several years earlier than you would've.
That's hard to tell -- it seems like every heating company has its own methods for maintenance. In general, however, a 'good' inspection will include all of these:
In addition to this list, heating contractors say that they regularly do static air pressure checks, gas pressure testing, and temperature rise checks. In short, it's a fairly long, comprehensive process and your ability to do it yourself without years of training -- and it's the best way to keep your heater thriving for many years to come.