As a homeowner, it’s important for you to understand a little bit about how your home works, especially your home’s heating system. It’s good to know quick troubleshooting tips to get your heat going again should you have a furnace mishap. Should you have any problems with your heating system during the winter, follow these tips to get it going again until the calvary arrives to save the day.
Of course, with our busy schedules, especially in a crazy year like 2020 (and who knows what’s coming in 2021), thinking about your heating system when it’s not actually cold outside seems like a waste of time. In reality, it’s the ideal time to prevent any issues during the frigid winter months of central Ohio. Fall is absolutely the best time of the year to get your furnace inspected and repaired by a professional HVAC contractor to prevent furnace issues during the coldest days (and nights) of the year.
A basic furnace inspection by a licensed, certified HVAC service technician will catch any potential issues and have them handled before the cold weather arrives to stay. This is important to consider, especially if your furnace is older, or if it’s been run pretty hard recently. Fortunately, we had a mild winter in early 2020, but still… better to be safe than sorry.
Listed below are signs that you can watch for that indicate your furnace may need to be repaired, replaced, or at the very least minor service. We also include some troubleshooting tips to help you get your furnace going again in an emergency. Lastly, we’ll discuss some strategies to find the best furnace repair service near you.
Telltale Signs Your Furnace Might Need Repairs
The age of your home’s heater is one of the most important factors that indicate your furnace may be in need of repairs. Even fairly new systems have been known to fail due to gross neglect or damage. Watch for these signs to determine if your system is broken, or about to fail.
Temperature Just Isn’t Right
If your home is either too cold or too hot versus the temperature shown on the thermostat, there could be trouble afoot. Worn internal components, a clogged or dirty filter, a loose belt, or a damaged fan motor can all contribute to less than ideal performance and lead to failure.
Pricey Utility Bills
Modern, properly-functioning furnaces are generally fairly efficient. Over time, however, they tend to before less efficient and waste more fuel to generate the same amount of heat. If you notice a huge spike in your gas or electric bill that doesn’t have a reasonable explanation, it might be a sign to call a licensed HVAC repair service to inspect your heating equipment.
Uneven Heating, Hot or Cold Rooms
Uneven heating can be caused by a number of things, such as dirty or clogged ductwork, a faulty thermostat, a badly-designed system, or air leaks in the house or ducts. If you notice one room that’s too hot or too cold, your best bet is to get on our schedule to have one of our friendly certified HVAC service technicians pay a visit.
Natural Gas Leaks
Natural gas is normally odorless, but the gas company adds a scent similar to rotten eggs to the gas to help detect any leaks. If your olfactory picks up this smell in your home, particularly around your furnace, hot water tank, or range, shut off the gas for the entire house and call the fire department immediately. They can check to see if you have a gas leak or not. If they, or the gas utility, determines you have a leak, they will not allow you to turn it back on without a proper repair and inspection. If the leaks is coming from your furnace, we can help you get that resolved. If it’s from the gas pipes in your home, you’ll need to contact a licensed plumber to handle the repairs. The utility company can recommend approved vendors nearby.
Heating System Troubleshooting Tips
Now that we’ve determine some of the indicators of furnace problems, let’s take a look at how to fix small problems and get the furnace running again. Again, having an HVAC service technician inspect and maintain your equipment annually can prevent most of these types of problems from happening.
- Thermostat If required, replace the batteries in your thermostat from time to time. We recommend checking and replacing your thermostat batteries at the same time you check your smoke alarm batteries (spring forward/fall back). While you have it open to replace the batteries, go ahead and use a can of Dust-Off (compressed air for computer maintenance) to gently remove dust and debris than can cause issues. You can do the same with a soft brush, but be gentle.
- Furnace Filters Believe it or not, this is one of the most common issues we find when we arrive at our customers’ houses to service their HVAC equipment. Every molecule of air that blows through the heating and cooling system passes through this filter. We all know what it’s like having trouble breathing through a mask in 2020, but having a clogged furnace filter is similar. If you can’t get air, you can’t breathe… the same applies to your furnace. We recommend you check the furnace filter monthly, and replace at least every two months, more often if necessary.
- Electrical Power If your furnace won’t start, check your breaker box (a.k.a. the ‘electrical panel’) to be sure the power is switched on to the furnace. The blower motor won’t start if it’s not receiving power. If the breaker is tripped, flip it back on. If the fuses is burned or discolored, replace it. If the furnace tries to start but the breaker flips again or the fuse burns again, leave your breaker off and call for professional service. This issue indicates something is wrong with the electrical circuit and could cause long-term damage to your system, or personal injury or death to the humans in your home. Electrical short circuits are a serious problem and shouldn’t be ignored.
- Pilot Light Older furnaces may have a continuously-running flame in the form of a pilot light. When the temperature drops, and the thermostat gives the order to fire the furnace up again, the pilot light is there to provide flame for the burners. If the pilot light isn’t lit, try re-lighting it using the instructions in the inside cover panel of your furnace. If it lights but goes out again, that could indicate a faulty gas valve (a common problem). The gas valve is a safety feature that prevents the pilot light gas tube from releasing gas when there is no flame present. Once again, the next step is to contact a competent furnace technician to resolve the issue for you.
- Heater Vents Visually inspect the vents/registers to ensure they are open. Closed vents can obviously keep a room from getting warm, and may cause back pressure on your system to prevent it from functioning properly in the rest of the home. If you find vents closed, open them. If you have furniture sitting in front of, or on top of, heating vents, rearrange the furniture to eliminate the issue. Note: many homes have inline valves in the ductwork that allow you to determine how much air can flow into a particular branch off the main duct line. This can have a similar effect as a closed vent. Have the system tuned by a professional HVAC contractor to resolve this issue.
Typical Furnace Repair Issues That May Arise
Over time, we frequently see these as some of the most common repairs required at our customers’ homes.
- Damaged Blower Belt Some furnace models use a belt-driven blower motor. If you hear a high-pitched whine or a burning rubber smell from your furnace, it’s likely the belt. Since replacement requires getting deep into your furnace, a professional HVAC technician is a must.
- Worn Ball Bearings The blower motor, like many motors, has bearings the keep the motor shaft turning fast and true. This fault is usually indicated by a scraping sound when the furnace first kicks on. Most motors are sealed, so to remedy this issue you’ll most likely have to replace the blower motor. Not a DIY project.
- Rapid Cycling When your furnace is turning itself on a off frequently, this could be an issue with the thermostat or the filter. A dirty, blocked filter can impede airflow, resulting in the furnace “gasping” for air and continually trying to turn on, and safety measures in the furnace kicking it off. Check the filter, and check the thermostat, then call a professional the problem isn’t resolved.
- Weak Pilot Light The pilot light should be a steady, bright blue flame with a yellow tip. If it flickers, or if it’s mostly yellow, that could indicate there is an imbalance in the gas to air mixture. This could also indicate there is a high amount of carbon monoxide present. Schedule a furnace repair immediately.
- Damaged Heat Exchanger A strong odor emanating from the furnace, particularly a burning smell, could indicate the heat exchanger is damaged. This is a common problem with older furnaces. A cracked or damaged heat exchanger could be leaking dangerous carbon monoxide into the air. Turn the furnace off and call an HVAC contractor right away.
How to Determine the Best Furnace Repair Service Near You
Since most of us live in our homes for awhile, it’s important to find the right heating repair company near you that is reliable, honest, and experienced. It’s a good idea to have a solid heating and air conditioning contractor on call when you need them the most – usually when the heat is out on the coldest day of the year.
Our society is more mobile than ever. The average time a family spends in a home in the US is now about five years, so it’s not always easy to find a reliable furnace maintenance service you can trust. Try searching with terms like “local furnace repair” or “gas furnace repair in my area” to locate a reputable and reliable HVAC company in your service area.
Start with Reputation
Surveys suggest that people today trust online reviews from real people as much as a personal recommendation from a friend! So the first place to start to find a reputable heating repair company near year is to search the major search engines (Google, Yahoo, or Bing). To find companies near you, check out the map on the search results page. It will show you the three top companies that service your location. Select the company with the highest rating and the largest number of reviews.
At Dor-Mar Heating and Air Conditioning, we ensure our customer experience is second to none. We consider the customer the most important person in our world! When you call us to service your furnace, you can be sure you’re getting one of the highest-rated, reliable furnace service providers near you.
Dor-Mar to the Rescue!
Schedule an appointment for HVAC system installation, troubleshooting or maintenance with us today by using our online contact form, or call one of our seven neighborhood offices listed below. We pride ourselves on our customer-focused service, and our reviews show it.
Dor-Mar…Your Climate Hero!
*Please note: neither the Centers for Disease Control(CDC), the World Health Organization (WHO), nor the manufacturer of our UV-C Devices have officially announced whether UV-C kills the current strain of Corona Virus (COVID-19). We urge you to err on the side of caution until we have a definitive answer, and take other measures to prevent the acquisition or spread of this virus.