Owning a home can provide a sense of stability. It can also become a source of anxiety when things go wrong. In winter especially, common furnace problems can quickly become dangerous if not repaired.
Common Furnace Problems to Look Out For
To get ahead of problems before they happen, there are a few things property owners should be aware of. Here are some of the top furnace problems we encounter.
1. Lack of Maintenance
Everything we have requires some degree of maintenance.
You know you need to regularly check the oil in your car, and rotate the tires every so often. Once a week, you might mow the lawn to prevent it from getting unruly. Even your floors are regularly swept and vacuumed to keep things fresh.
So why would your furnace be any different?
Just like every other feature of your home, your furnace requires regular maintenance to keep things running smoothly.
If you don’t remember the last time your furnace was inspected or just looked at, now is the perfect time to set an appointment to avoid common furnace problems.
2. Clogged or Dirty Filters
Without regular maintenance, furnace air filters will become dirty and clogged. This limits airflow and makes it harder for the unit to function.
Clogged furnace filters are among the most common furnace problems. If you are having issues, this is one of the first places to check.
3. Thermostat Issues
Programmable thermostats, in particular, may cause issues if you set them during warm months. If you don’t remember to change them as the weather gets cooler, things may get uncomfortable.
Not all thermostat issues are caused by user error, however. A malfunctioning thermostat will also lead to temperature regulation problems.
4. Is it Turned On?
It may seem obvious, but sometimes the biggest problems are the easiest to solve.
If the heat isn’t working, check to see if your furnace’s circuit breaker has been tripped.
Similarly, it’s possible that somebody meant to turn off a switch for something else and accidentally switched off the furnace.
5. Ignition Problems
As utilities become more efficient, they also become a bit more complicated. Common furnace problems often revolve around the ignition.
Newer furnaces don’t use a continuous pilot light. Instead, they use an intermittent pilot or hot surface ignition. Hot surface ignition requires electricity-heat up the igniter, similar to a light bulb filament. And just like a light bulb will eventually burn out, so do these igniters.
There are also safety switches and computer boards that can eventually fail, resulting in failure to ignite.
The more features are included in a system, the more possibilities for problems.
6. Malfunctioning Burner
If the ignition is working but you’re still having heating issues, it could be related to your burner.
It could just be dirty or require minor adjustment, but these are tasks that should be handled by a professional.
Working with gas is dangerous, and you don’t want to mess with anything that could cause a gas leak.
7. Wrong-Sized Furnace
Have you just moved into a new home and feel like the furnace isn’t working too well?
Maybe it’s the wrong size for the space.
Over time, your house may have gotten new additions, or maybe the last owner simply got the wrong sized unit.
Many common furnace problems go back to user error. So it’s possible the wrong furnace was chosen for house or building.
8. Blower Problems
If the furnace blower is continuously running, you may have an issue with the limit switch.
Your blower problem may even be a belt problem – and not really a blower problem at all. The belt may need some lubrication, or it may be worn and need replacement.
The blower motor may also need to be repaired or replaced.
In any case, blower issues can be found and addressed during regular inspections and maintenance.
They should always be handled by professionals who know what to look for and how to fix the problem. This is another reason it’s important to keep up with maintenance schedules to avoid issues down the road.
9. Closed Room Heating Registers
If you’ve had everything checked and you’re still noticing that the heat isn’t working as it should, maybe it’s not the furnace.
See if the temperatures are consistent around the house. If you notice that one or two rooms are cooler than the others, it might be the heat registers.
Check to make sure the heat registers are open in each room. If not, that blocked access would prevent the heat from entering those rooms.
10. Noisy Operations
While many common furnace problems won’t be easy to detect, loud systems might be a tip-off.
A certain amount of pops and bangs are to be expected as ductwork expands due to heat.
A rattling sound, however, could be from loose furnace panels. Grinding sounds could mean that the bearings have reached the end of their life cycle and need replacement.
A poorly aligned belt, on the other hand, can cause a squealing sound within your furnace.
If there aren’t any problems with your furnace, but the noise is still bothering you, flexible insulation can be installed to muffle the sounds.
Keeping Your Furnace in Good Working Order
As we stated earlier, it’s always best to prevent problems before they start. Therefore, you’ll want to adhere to a scheduled maintenance plan to find areas for improvement.
Even if the technician just changes your filters or does a basic cleaning, these steps are important to keep your furnace working efficiently.
If you wait until the heat stops flowing completely, you’ll likely be spending much more time and money fixing a problem that could have been easily addressed months ago. And, lack of heat can cause other problems as water pipes freeze and burst – so don’t delay in getting your heating system checked!
Scheduling a furnace cleaning and safety inspection is typically a good idea during the fall. However, if you still haven’t gotten your system checked out this year, it’s never too late!
Schedule a furnace inspection and tune-up now to avoid costly problems later.