If you just turned on your furnace for the first time since last winter, there are some things you may want to watch for as the colder months roll in. We typically find that problems are likely to pop up right when we begin using our heating and cooling systems for the first time in a while.
Here are 10 common issues your furnace may face and what you’ll want to do about them.
1 – Air Filter Change
This is the bare minimum of furnace maintenance. We can’t stress highly enough how important it is to change your furnace’s air filter regularly. While it varies from home to home, we typically recommend checking your filter monthly and replacing it quarterly (at the least). Some homes can get away with more time on their filters, but many homes will actually require less.
Air filters are easy to diagnose and obtain. You can order them online or pick one up at the local hardware store. Not sure which size you need? Check the current filter to see if the size is listed or try searching for your furnace’s model number online to see what filter sizes are accepted by your system.
2 – Wear and Tear
Furnaces get old and need to be replaced. While many systems will last upwards of 15-20 years, there’s no guarantee that your furnace will perform well for that long. For instance, furnaces made just 10 or 15 years ago are noticeably less energy efficient than their present-day counterparts.
If your furnace requires regular repairs or is just getting up there in age, you may actually save a good deal on your monthly utilities by replacing the system before it goes out. Similarly, if you have an outage, it may be best to consider upgrading your system as opposed to a costly repair on an older model that may just go out soon anyhow.
3 – Thermostat Issues
Sometimes, the problem doesn’t lie with the furnace at all. We often get calls for furnaces not working properly, only to find the actual issue is that the thermostat was off. Ensure your thermostat is set correctly and has working batteries before attempting to diagnose your furnace.
Likewise, it could be that your thermostat just needs to be replaced. This is often a simple matter that can be a DIY job. If you’d like the team at Lion to help, we’d be happy to take care of it as well and check for other issues at the same time.
4 – Power Problems
Occasionally, clutter or activity around a furnace will lead to it getting unplugged. Many homeowners don’t actually even know their furnace plugs in at all, but they certainly do.
Likewise, it is possible that you need to reset the breaker associated with your home’s furnace, which could especially be the issue after a power outage in your area. Before calling an HVAC specialist, it never hurts to check if your furnace is actually receiving power or not.
5 – Not Hot Enough
If you find that the air coming from the vents just doesn’t feel very warm or that you’re constantly adjusting the thermostat to get the house warm enough, there could be a few potential problems.
In most cases, it will require HVAC maintenance to ensure that there aren’t technical issues with the furnace. If you’re new to the home, it could just be that the furnace isn’t actually powerful enough to properly heat the entire home. Other common issues, such as a clogged air filter or blocked air intake vents, could also be the culprit.
6 – Not Hot At All
There’s a big difference between not very hot and not at all hot when it comes to your home’s heating system. If your furnace isn’t producing even warm air, you likely have an issue with the pilot light or ignition. This could be problematic, especially if the furnace is continually trying to create warm air and failing.
In this instance, we suggest you give our team a call right away to ensure that nothing dangerous is going on. It’s likely best to shut off the system while we work on troubleshooting or getting a service expert your way.
7 – Turning On & Off Frequently
If you’re noticing an on-again, off-again problem with your furnace, this likely has to do with improper air flow coming from or into the system. Since your furnace works on a forced air system that requires cycled air from within your home to push heated air through the vents, you should first check if air intake vents are blocked or otherwise obstructed.
It could be that you need to get your vents cleaned or a new thermostat, as well. The first place to check should be the thermostat, then air intake vents, and finally the furnace itself, likely with an HVAC service expert.
8 – Always Running
We occasionally get the call from folks that feel they have to manually control their furnace by turning the heat entirely off to get it to stop running. There are a couple of potential culprits here, but the root issue should not be left unaddressed any longer than necessary to avoid excess wear-and-tear on the other systems within your furnace.
For instance, if the limit switch is faulty, it could cause your heat exchangers to remain active longer than necessary, which can cause a far more expensive (and potentially dangerous) problem for your furnace.
9 – Heat Exchanger Issues
While not the most common issue to run into, problems with the heat exchanger are usually the end of a furnace’s life. There are a few reasons for this:
First of all, noticing something wrong with this system often comes after the problems have progressed to a serious level.
Next, a faulty heat exchanger system is the root cause of many carbon monoxide poisoning cases nationwide, so a DIY repair is certainly not recommended.
Finally, the heat exchanger system is built to last the life of your furnace. If it’s going out, your furnace may not be worth repairing anyway; this is doubly-true for the expensive heat exchanger system. For this reason alone, most serious heat exchanger issues lead to a furnace replacement being the best-case scenario.
10 – General Lack of Maintenance
It is no surprise to local homeowners that furnaces are not inexpensive purchases and should be taken care of as a future investment in the home. All too often, we meet homeowners who regret not having regular maintenance performed on their system over time, as a more costly repair or replacement looms over their head.
Nearly every issue listed here could be caught and prevented or repaired during a routine maintenance inspection of your furnace. Before the really chilly months hit Northern Colorado, it’s best to get your maintenance planned and scheduled to go into the winter with peace of mind.