As we move closer to winter, that distinctive chill in the air may have you thinking about your furnace. Consider these troubleshooting tips to help you prepare for common problems you may encounter. Some issues have simple solutions that you can resolve on your own, such as replacing an old air filter or making sure the thermostat is set correctly. Others are more complex and require professional help.
1. Thermostat breaks or isn’t set properly.
If your heat isn’t working, the first place to look is your thermostat. Make sure the settings haven’t been accidentally changed. The thermostat should be set to “heat” with the desired temperature set above the current room temperature. The fan should be set to “auto.” If the thermostat is set correctly, it may be malfunctioning and should be inspected by a professional.
2. Air circulation problems.
If your home isn’t heating properly, the problem could be a faulty fan motor. Worn or damaged belts or bearings can cause excessive heating or poor heating control.
3. Dirty or clogged filters.
Replacing your furnace air filter should be part of your routine household maintenance. This is a simple, inexpensive way to keep your furnace running smoothly and efficiently. Filters get clogged with pet hair and other debris that inhibits airflow. Installing a new one every 1 to 3 months (depending on the type) will improve the flow of air and keep your furnace cleaner so it works more efficiently.
4. Furnace or heating system pilot or ignition control problems.
A pilot light can go out for a number of reasons including a faulty thermocouple, a dirty gas tube or even a draft. Problems with the pilot light or ignition control should be diagnosed and repaired by your HVAC professional.
5. Inconsistent maintenance history.
A well-maintained furnace will always outperform one that has been neglected. Over time, even the course of one season, your furnace accumulates dirt and parts can get out of alignment or begin to show wear. Having your furnace professionally cleaned and maintained at least once a year maximizes efficiency and performance, and prevents small problems from becoming large costly repairs. Added bonus: Units that run efficiently use less energy and save money.
6. Circuit breaker.
If your furnace has unexpectedly shut down or won’t turn on, check to see if the circuit breaker has been tripped or blown.
7. Furnace is past its prime.
Frequent repairs, poor or inconsistent performance, and high utility bills are all signs you may need a new furnace. The good news is that newer models are much more efficient to operate and the savings you realize on your monthly energy bills can quickly offset the cost of a new system. Rebates may also be available to help you recoup your investment even faster.