Picture this! It’s a cold winter’s night, and you’re about to turn in, but there’s a bitter chill in the air. You’re uncertain why this is happening because the last time you checked, your furnace was working as usual. However, you start thinking about the last time you serviced the furnace, and you can’t remember exactly when you did. Now the pieces of the puzzle are coming together, and you realize that your furnace isn’t working and requires immediate repair. Unfortunately, the next appointment you may get with an HVAC technician is days or weeks later.
To avoid this scenario, it’s imperative that you consider servicing your furnace regularly. There are signs that you can look out for to call in a qualified professional to prevent your furnace from breaking down.
Generally, furnaces last 15 to 20 years and replaced after that. You can verify a furnace’s age by checking the serial numbers on its label. Any furnace under 15 years should be properly maintained according to the manufacturer’s guidelines.
The Furnace Runs Longer Than Usual
In ideal conditions, the furnace turns itself on for a couple of minutes which makes it difficult to detect a problem. If you notice it switched on for a longer time with reduced rest time in between, you have a failing furnace.
The Air Filter is Blocked
The primary purpose of the air filter is to trap dirt and prevent it from entering your home. Primarily, it assists in keeping the air clean. However, over time, too much dirt clogs the filter and restricts the airflow causing the furnace to work harder. You should check for signs from any of the home’s occupants if they’re struggling to breathe as this is a direct result of blocked air filters. Always check the air filters first because it’s the most common cause of a problematic furnace and is the easiest, fastest, and most affordable to repair.
Inspecting the air filter is relatively simple:
- Turn off the furnace and thermostat.
- Find the filter which may be situated inside or out but resembles a grate in the wall or ceiling.
- Hold the filter up to the light to determine if it passes through. If you cannot see light shining through the filter, its time for a change.
- Install the new filter with the arrows in the direction of the airflow.
HVAC technicians recommend you change the filter every 90 days.
Although it’s a small component, if the thermostat is not communicating with your furnace, your system won’t run effectively. As a result, there may be too little or too much heat in your home, creating an uncomfortable environment. You can follow these steps to identify the problem:
- Increase the temperature by five degrees and check if it follows suit.
- Check that it isn’t being affected by sunlight or other heat sources providing false information to the furnace.
- Ensure the batteries are fresh.
You require the services of a professional to replace the thermostat. Consider upgrading to a digital thermostat since they automatically change your temperature every day, saving you energy and money.
Inspect the Flame
Natural gas or propane usually power the flames of a furnace. A signal of it safely burning fuel is an even, blue-colored flame. Any other colors such as yellow or orange suggest the burner requires cleaning and you should call a technician to address the problem. A combustion issue pushes the furnace to work harder, driving up your energy costs. While you can use a vacuum cleaner to remove soot and debris, you should reserve dealing with this aspect for a trained person. On some occasions, the light may go off completely, which may be the result of drafts, clogs, or a faulty ignition system. Do not attempt to relight the burner yourself and instead call in a qualified technician.
After checking all the other aspects for possible faults, perhaps the energy supply is the issue. The obvious step is to check the furnace power switch. The next step is to inspect your breaker box but before you flip any switches, ensure there’s no moisture around the components. After that, flip the HVAC on and ensure it stays in that position. If there’s no problem there, switch the breaker off and inspect the furnace’s fuse. Check if it is discolored or melted which is a sure sign that it’s blown.
Carbon Monoxide Detectors
Furnaces have exhaust pipes that lead to the outside, and you can detect any breakages with a carbon monoxide detector. It’s essential in identifying any issues that may cause harm to the occupants of the home.
The Maintenance Checklist
Regularly servicing your furnace means your family can rest easy during winter, keeping warm thanks to the efficiency of the system. However, always ensure that you pay attention to these steps:
- Inspect the condition of the vent connection pipe and chimney
- The condition of the heat exchanger
- Do a combustion-efficiency test
- Check for cracks in the combustion chamber
- Test for carbon monoxide
- Clean and oil blower
- Remove soot and dirt
- Check fuel and flame
- Seal all connections
For regular maintenance, recruit a reputable contractor that you can trust.