Furnace and Heating Issues that Demand Attention

It started to get cold, winter appeared, and you turned the thermostat the other way. Instead of going down in temperature, you’re moving the numbers up a little bit. The heating system is turning on and sometimes things don’t sound, smell or feel right. What to do?

If furnace and heating system repair and maintenance has not been important over the years, then you might start experiencing some maintenance and repair issues during the cold part of the year that you didn’t anticipate.

You will want to keep this important system up and running efficiently for the safety and well being of your family and for your own financial comfort. Here are some things to look, feel, and listen for as you go through the winter months.

Thermostat Errors
The thermostat sets the heat point and calls on the system to reach certain temperatures throughout the day. It determines how much heat is produced in a 24 hr. cycle of time. If it has problems, then you will have intermittent heating cycles, too many on cycles, and inadequate or uneven temperatures throughout the house. A thermostat is usually a self-contained electrical device full of intricate electronic components that require a professional to sort out.

Clogged or Wrong Filters
The longer the furnace is in service, the more used and clogged the filters will become. This is as it should be, as they are designed to stop pollutants, air debris, and harmful biologicals that can deteriorate indoor air quality. Ideally, filters should be inspected monthly and changed as needed. Washable filters should be removed, cleaned and replaced.

Doing these things will enhance your furnaces performance and lengthen its working life. As time passes and more air debris passes through the filter, the more that airflow will be inhibited. As this happens, the furnace has to work harder to achieve the same results. Over time, this has a negative impact on the internal parts of the system and your cost per month will increase.

On and Off Cycling
There are some reasons why your furnace may turn on and off frequently during an hour. The heat exchanger may be overheating and the system is shutting down to reduce this temperature. The things to look for if the heat exchanger is overheating include dirty filters, blocked air vents and blocked exhaust vents.

You may have a malfunctioing thermostat and may need to replace it. It is the central brain of the HVAC system and if it sends the wrong signals, then your furnace will just do as it demands. Check your thermostat for battery life or electrical connection. Assess the location of the thermostat and make sure it is not receiving extreme atmospheric readings based on its location.

Incorrect Sizing
If you have recently had a new furnace installed, make sure the installers did not overestimate the size of the unit for your space. The installers should have done a manual J Heat Load assessment. This evaluation takes into consideration your square footage, ductwork and length, and the amount and kind of insulation in your dwelling.

If a “rule of thumb” was used to calculate the heat load, then you might just have a wrong sized system that is quickly heating up the space and quickly turning off. This action drives up energy cost and puts an unnecessary amount of stress on the parts of the system.

Mechanical Usage
Mechanical parts do not last forever. They are made of metals, alloys, and rubbers that deteriorate over time based on usage. Inside your system are pulleys, gears, bolts, motors, electrical components, fans, pumps, and a variety of mechanicals spreading out all over your house. When they wear out, other parts of the system begin to have an undue amount of stress placed on them also. Worn out belts and bearings can happen which will eventually result in a stoppage in the system.

Overheating can result from parts coming to the end of their warrantied life. Safety issues come into play at this point as severe overheating can cause fire or the overproduction of toxic gases.

Keep these pointers in mind as you look, feel, and listen to your furnace this season.