As the weather cools and winter approaches, keeping your home warm and cozy becomes a top priority. Your furnace is a key part of staying comfortable all winter, and the last thing you want is a furnace breakdown. It’s not only unpleasant, but you may have a costlier and less convenient repair appointment.
Fortunately, you can prevent a furnace breakdown with some simple furnace repair tips. Take a look at the importance of regular furnace maintenance, common problems you may encounter, and tips to fix them from the pros at ASI Heating & Air.
Why Does Furnace Maintenance Matter?
Before we dive into furnace repair tips, it’s important to understand why furnace maintenance is part of the equation. The furnace is a complex piece of equipment with many moving parts. If you don’t maintain it properly, you could end up with inefficiencies, increased energy bills, and the risk of a complete breakdown.
Here’s why furnace maintenance is so important to your furnace’s health:
Regular maintenance can significantly extend the lifespan of your furnace. When all the components are clean and in good working condition, you can reduce wear and tear on your system and maximize your furnace’s longevity.
Reduced Energy Bills
A well-maintained furnace operates more efficiently. It can heat your home using less energy, which can significantly reduce your energy bills and consumption. With utility costs rising, this is a huge benefit.
Furnaces can pose a safety risk if not maintained correctly. Problems like gas leaks or carbon monoxide emissions can occur, putting you and your family at risk of health problems. Regular inspections and maintenance can help with preventing safety issues by identifying faulty components and potential risks and correcting them.
Preventing Expensive Repairs
Routine maintenance often catches minor issues before they can grow into major, expensive, and often inconvenient problems. It’s generally simpler and cheaper to schedule a minor repair than a major repair – especially during the busy season – and gives you time to plan.
Many furnace manufacturers require regular maintenance to keep the warranty valid. Failing to adhere to your furnace’s maintenance schedule could void the warranty, leaving you on the hook for the repair or replacement costs.
Common Furnace Problems and Troubleshooting
In addition to furnace maintenance, learning to identify and fix common furnace problems can help you keep your furnace in top condition in between service appointments. It’s important to realize that some issues can be solved with DIY solutions, but many will require professional furnace repair and service.
Safety is the most important consideration, so if you’re not comfortable, make sure you consult a professional HVAC technician instead of doing it on your own.
If You Experience No Heat or Inadequate Heat, Check:
- Thermostat settings:Check the thermostat settings to ensure your furnace is set to the desired temperature and that it’s in heating mode.
- Clogged air filters:Dirty or clogged air filters can restrict airflow and reduce heating efficiency. Replace or clean your air filters regularly, which should be about every one to three months.
- Pilot light issues:For older gas furnaces, the pilot light may have gone out. Follow the manufacturer’s instructions to ensure it relights safely.
- Ignition problems:Newer gas furnaces have electronic ignition systems. If it’s not working properly, you may need to call a professional for repairs.
If Your Furnace Is Cycling On and Off Frequently, Check:
- Dirty or clogged air filters:Dirty filters can cause your furnace to short cycle, wasting energy and causing wear and tear. Try cleaning your air filters, and if that doesn’t work, replace them with the appropriate air filter.
- Thermostat location:Make sure your thermostat is not located near heat sources, drafty areas, or in direct sunlight. These conditions can make it easy for the device to misread the temperature and cause the furnace to cycle on and off.
- Overheating:If your furnace is overheating, it’s likely to cycle on and off. This could be due to a malfunctioning blower motor or a clogged air filter. Consult a professional HVAC technician for diagnosis and repair.
If Your Furnace Is Making Strange Noises, Check:
- Rattling or vibrating:Loose screws, nuts, or bolts can cause rattling or vibrating sounds. Check the furnace cabinet for any loose components and tighten them.
- Squealing:Squealing noises may indicate a problem with the blower motor or a worn-out belt. This is an issue that should be addressed by a professional HVAC technician.
- Banging or popping:These sounds may be due to the expansion and contraction of air ducts as they heat and cool. It’s often normal, but if it’s excessive, you may need to consult a technician.
If You Experience Uneven Heating, Check:
- Blocked vents or registers: Ensure that all vents and registers in your home are open and unobstructed. Blocked vents can also lead to uneven heating.
- Zoning issues: If your home has a zoned heating system, make sure the dampers are correctly adjusted to balance the heat distribution.
- Leaky ducts:Leaking ductwork can cause uneven heating, causing your home to feel uncomfortable. Seal any leaks you can see but be sure to call a professional to assess and repair ductwork issues.
If Your Furnace Blower Constantly Running, Check:
- Thermostat fan setting: Check the thermostat fan setting. If it’s set to “on” instead of “auto,” the blower will run continuously. Switch it to “auto” to allow it to run only when the heat is needed.
- Limit switch issues:The limit switch could be faulty, causing the blower to run constantly. This is another issue that’s better handled by a professional.
If You Smell Foul Odors, Check:
- Dusty or musty odors:If you notice a dusty or musty smell when you turn on the furnace for the first time in the season, it’s likely due to dust and debris buildup. Allow the furnace to run for a while to burn off the dust. If the smell persists, consider cleaning the air ducts.
- Burning odors:If you detect a burning odor, turn off the furnace immediately and contact a professional. It could be a sign of an electrical issue or overheating components.
If You Experience Noisy Burner Flames, Check For:
- Yellow or flickering flames:This could indicate a problem with the gas supply or combustion. Yellow flames often mean incomplete combustion, which can be dangerous. Turn off the furnace and call a professional HVAC technician.
- Blue flames with yellow tips:In some cases, blue flames with yellow tips are normal. If these flames persist or are excessive, speak to a technician to ensure that your furnace is combusting properly.
DIY Furnace Maintenance Tips
While some furnace problems may require professional intervention, there are some DIY maintenance tasks you can perform on your own to keep your furnace in good condition. Here are some essential DIY furnace maintenance tips:
Regularly Replace or Clean Air Filters
Air filters are your first line of defense against dust and debris. Clean or replace your air filters every one to three months or as recommended by the manufacturer.
Clean the Blower and Blower Motor
Cleaning the blower and blower motor can help you keep your furnace running its best between servicing. Before cleaning, make sure to turn off the power to the furnace. Then, remove the blower cover and vacuum any dust and debris from the blower wheel and motor. Be careful to avoid any wiring.
Check the Blower Belt
If your furnace has a belt-driven blower, check the condition of the belt. It should be properly tensioned, not cracked, and free of excessive wear. If you notice issues, consider replacing the belt or calling a professional for a recommendation.
Lubricate Moving Parts
Some older furnace models have motor bearings and other moving parts that require lubrication. Check your furnace’s user manual for guidance on lubricating these components.
Inspect and Clean the Flame Sensor
The flame sensor ensures that the burners ignite correctly. Over time, it can become covered in soot or debris, causing ignition problems. Gently remove the sensor and clean it with a fine abrasive pad.
Clear Obstructions Around the Furnace
Make sure that the area around your furnace is clear of any obstructions, flammable materials, or clutter. Good ventilation is crucial for safety.
Check and Clean Air Ducts
Inspect your air ducts for any visible leaks or obstructions. You can seal small leaks with duct tape, but it’s often best to consult a professional for duct cleaning and maintenance.
Test the Thermostat
Test your thermostat by setting it to different temperatures. Ensure that the furnace responds correctly and that the temperature readings are accurate.
Check for Gas Leaks
If you have a gas furnace, it’s important to ensure that there are no gas leaks. Use a gas leak detector or consult a professional if you suspect a leak.
Listen for Unusual Sounds
It’s important to listen to your furnace on occasion to know what it sounds like normally and identify any unusual sounds. When you are familiar with your furnace’s normal operation, and the signs that there’s a problem, it helps you deal with any issues early.
Contact the Pros at ASI Heating & Air
Your furnace is a vital component of your home, especially in winter. Following the furnace repair and maintenance tips in this guide can help you ensure that your system is running safely and efficiently, preventing major repairs and breakdowns.
While there’s plenty you can do on your own, it’s best to rely on professionals for regular maintenance and major repairs, such as the team at ASI Heating & Air. Contact us today to schedule your appointment!