December 4, 2023
Furnace services and installation

Your furnace is essential to your household’s comfort during the winter. It works hard to keep your home warm and protect your house from issues, such as frozen pipes. However, just like other vital systems, your furnace requires routine care to keep it in peak condition. When your heating system begins to malfunction, you can notice a range of symptoms from odd new odors to changes in your indoor comfort. Here are seven simple furnace troubleshooting tips you can employ before you call for help.

1. Check Your Furnace Filter

Your filter plays a significant role in how your heating system functions. This filter removes contaminants from the air to protect your air quality. When this filter fills up, it impedes airflow, which can make the system work harder and eventually lead to system burnout. If your furnace refuses to start up or stay on, it may be overheating due to a clogged filter. You should change your filter every 30 to 90 days depending on your household. They typically need to be replaced more regularly if you have a large family or live with pets.

2. Check Electrical Panel

Even if you have a gas furnace, the system still requires electricity to work. You’ll want to make sure the power that is running to your furnace is turned on at the circuit breaker. Look for the switch labeled HVAC and reset it. If you have a fuse box, you’ll need to replace any discolored fuses. You can then turn your furnace back on and see if it runs. If you notice that your heating system immediately powers back down after you start it up, there’s a chance it may be overheating or there’s an issue with the control board, and issues like these require professional help.

3. Check The Igniter

Electric furnaces use automatic electronic ignitions to start their heating process. When this component malfunctions, it will stop your heating system from starting. A faulty ignitor won’t be able to produce the spark necessary to kick on the burners. In gas furnaces, the pilot flame continuously stays lit, allowing the system to ignite its fuel from this source when it begins a cycle. There may be an issue with your natural gas supply or the burners, and you will know this if you notice the flame has turned orange or yellow or is flickering. The pilot light should always burn steadily blue.

4. Set Thermostat Correctly

Your thermostat is the brain of your furnace because it controls when it starts or stops running, and it also regulates the temperature in your home. If your thermostat is not set correctly, this can result in a myriad of problems.

One problem that results from incorrect thermostat settings is the furnace will either run for too long or not run long enough. The average furnace cycle length should last between 10 to 15 minutes. However, this will fluctuate depending on how cold it is outside and what type of furnace you use. Your heating system shouldn’t be staying on for upwards of 20 to 30 minutes at a time. The system also should not turn off shortly after it starts running, a problem that is commonly referred to as short cycling.

When your furnace refuses to start up, your thermostat may also be to blame. Check to confirm that the device is in the heat setting. If necessary, switch out its old batteries for new ones. Keep the location of your thermostat in mind because nearby heat sources, such as lamps, space heaters, or ovens, can impact its ability to accurately read the temperature of the environment. You can try setting the temperature several degrees higher to test your furnace. If your heating system doesn’t turn on or problems with your furnace persist, you need professional HVAC service.

Short cycling that persists after you have performed basic troubleshooting steps with your furnace may mean your furnace is overheating or triggering a safety mechanism. A furnace that continues to run much longer cycles even when the thermostat is working correctly can be the result of blower problems. You may have a blown fuse, or some of the wires inside the motor may be corroded.

5. Clean Out Your Condensate Drain

All the moisture produced by your furnace should be pumped safely out through the condensate line. High-efficiency heating systems tend to produce more water than standard furnaces, but you should still never see pools of water collecting near the base of your system.

If you notice that water drips from your furnace, you are contending with condensation. Condensation happens when your condensate drain is clogged. You can clean out your condensate drain by flushing distilled vinegar through your condensate line. Allow the vinegar to remain for 30 minutes, and then flush the condensate line with water. Once this process is complete, vacuum the condensate line with a wet and dry vac for three minutes. If these methods do not resolve the clog, you must contact a professional because the problem may be more severe, such as a broken condensate line or a more severe clog that you cannot dislodge. In some cases, your heat exchanger may be cracked and create excess condensation. It’s also possible your drain pan broke. It is important to rectify this problem quickly because frequent exposure to moisture can lead to premature rust and corrosion, lowering the overall lifespan of your system.

6. Check Your Vents

If temperatures are uneven in your home, check your vents to make sure they are not closed or blocked by furniture. If all your vents are free from obstructions and temperatures are still uneven, have a professional inspect your ductwork to see if there are any holes or gaps that allow air to leak out. Your ductwork may also have clogs that obstruct airflow to certain areas of your home, and these will need to be removed via a duct cleaning service.

7. Remove Clutter From Around Your Furnace

If you use your basement or utility closet as a storage space, make sure you do not have any clutter near your furnace. This is not only a fire hazard, but this can also interfere with how it functions because clutter can obstruct airflow. Always keep three feet of space around your HVAC system.

Leave All Major Issues Up to the Professionals

While there are many easy troubleshooting steps you can employ to fix problems with your furnace, all major furnace repairs should be left to experts. Trying to replace any internal parts or change the wiring can result in damage to the system. You may also inadvertently electrocute yourself, as furnaces utilize copious amounts of power that can be dangerous to untrained homeowners. Not to mention, you can void your manufacturer’s warranty if you have one.

Experienced Heating and Cooling Service

Beltway Air Conditioning & Heating is a top-notch HVAC company in Hanover, MD. We’re BBB-accredited, locally owned, and employ licensed technicians who make honesty and integrity top priorities. Count on us to repair or maintain your HVAC systems. If you are a business owner, we can also help improve the comfort of your commercial establishment. Finally, we offer a variety of heating and cooling rebates and coupons to help our customers save big. Contact us today.

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