The winters in the northeast can be bitterly cold, and few things are worse than finding out your heating system isn’t working properly when the weather dips below freezing. Suddenly finding yourself with little or no heat in the middle of winter can be a frightening situation. Still, there is no reason to panic as many heating problems can be caused by fairly minor issues that you may be able to resolve on your own.
1. Some Rooms Won’t Heat Up as Much Others
Uneven heating in the home is a fairly common problem and one that can be caused by numerous potential issues. For instance, if you find that only one room in the house isn’t heating up properly, it might be something as simple as the vents in the room being clogged or obstructed.
If several rooms in the home aren’t heating up properly, the issue could be a result of leaking ductwork, a dirty air filter or a problem with your furnace itself. The first thing you should do when you notice this problem is check your air filter to make sure it isn’t overly dirty or clogged. A dirty air filter can drastically reduce the airflow coming into the furnace, which results in it producing much less heat than it should. This same problem can also make it more difficult for the blower fan to properly circulate air throughout the entire house. To avoid this problem, make sure that you check your air filter regularly and change the filter every 30 to 90 days.
Damaged or leaky ducts can also result in the same uneven heating issues. Any duct leaks can allow the hot air from your furnace to escape before it reaches every room in the house. Leaks also make the blower fan work much harder and make it more difficult to properly circulate air through the entire building. If your home has exposed ductwork, you can inspect it to see if you see any visible damage or feel any air leaking out of it. However, it is usually best to call in a professional to have your ducts inspected and sealed if necessary.
The issue could also be result of a problem with your furnace itself. For instance, it might be that the furnace is shutting off before it can complete its entire heat cycle. Known as short-cycling, this is a fairly common problem that can be caused by numerous issues, but the end result is that the furnace can’t produce enough heat to adequately warm up every room. In this case, you will definitely need to have an HVAC technician inspect your furnace in order to diagnose and repair the underlying issue.
2. Cold Air Coming Through the Vents
If you notice cold air coming through your vents when the heating is turned on, this often indicates a problem with either the thermostat or pilot light. The first step to diagnosing this issue is to check and make sure your thermostat is turned on and set properly. You will also want to make sure it is set to Auto instead of Fan On. If it is set to Fan On, this will cause your fan to run constantly and potentially circulate unheated air throughout the house. You should also try to turn up the heat on the thermostat to see if this changes anything. If nothing happens when you adjust the thermostat, it could indicate that either your thermostat is broken and needs to be replaced or that the furnace isn’t turning on for some reason.
3. Furnace Won’t Turn On
If you think your furnace isn’t turning on, the first things to check are that the pilot light is lit and that the circuit breaker isn’t tripped. Your furnace obviously won’t turn on if it doesn’t have power. Therefore, you’ll want to check your electrical panel to see if the breaker for your furnace is tripped. You can also reset the breaker by turning it off and then back on.
If the pilot light isn’t lit, you should follow your furnace manufacturer’s directions for relighting it. If you can’t get it to relight, then this usually indicates that gas isn’t getting to the furnace for some reason. In this case, you will need to contact a professional to see what is causing the problem.
If you have a high-efficiency furnace that won’t turn on, the problem is likely caused by dirty or faulty sensors within the unit that detect whether the gas is turned on or not. Newer high-efficiency furnaces utilize an intermittent pilot light and electronic ignition instead of a conventional standing pilot. In this type of system, the pilot light only ever comes on when the main burner is on, which means you won’t actually see a light if the system isn’t running. Unfortunately, these systems tend to be much more difficult to troubleshoot and will require the help of a professional.
4. Furnace Won’t Turn Off
If your heating system won’t turn off, this is almost always a sign that either your thermostat isn’t working properly or there is an issue with your blower fan. Leaky ductwork or a clogged air filter may also cause this issue by making it impossible for your heating system to ever reach the set temperature. In this situation, first make sure that the thermostat is set to the Auto setting so that the system automatically shuts off the blower fan when it reaches the set temperature. If this doesn’t rectify the situation, you may be dealing with a broken thermostat, faulty blower motor or some other issue that is preventing your furnace from producing enough heat. In this case, you’ll need to have your thermostat, furnace and blower fan professionally inspected.
5. Unusual Smells Coming From the Furnace or Vents
Noticing any strange smells coming from the furnace or vents can be a sign that there is something wrong with your heating or your ductwork. If you smell moldy or musty odors coming from the vents, this usually indicates that you have mold growing inside your ductwork. In this case, it is essential that you have the ducts professionally cleaned to ensure the mold doesn’t damage your health.
It is normal to notice a slight burning smell when you turn your heating system on for the first time in the winter. This is simply the dust and debris that has collected on the furnace burning off. In most cases, this is nothing to worry about and the smell should go away within a few minutes. However, if the smell persists, this could be a sign that your air filter is clogged. If this isn’t the case, you should immediately turn the heating system off and unplug your furnace until you can have it professionally inspected.
Beltway Air Conditioning & Heating has years of experience helping customers in Hanover and the surrounding areas overcome their heating issues. No matter what issue you’re facing, our professional HVAC technicians can identify the problem and ensure that your heating system is running as efficiently and effectively as possible. We also offer the entire range of air conditioning services for residential and commercial customers including installation, maintenance and repair. Don’t struggle without adequate heat one minute longer. Contact Beltway Air Conditioning & Heating today to see how we can help.