As the cold weather sets in, you will probably use your furnace more to keep your house warm. This is an opportune time to maintain your furnace to prevent unexpected problems and costly repairs. Here are five common furnace issues that you can avoid with routine maintenance.
1. Problems With the Furnace Fan
The furnace fan, or blower, is crucial to heating your home because it moves the heated air from your furnace through air ducts and into your house. Without proper maintenance, furnace fans can develop problems.
A furnace fan can wear down and accumulate debris over time. Both issues can make your furnace run poorly or cause it to stop working altogether. Worn-out belts are a common issue with fans. They can also slip out of place. If the problem is the belt, you will often hear a high-pitched noise coming from your furnace, and the belt may need to be replaced.
Furnace fans also experience bent blades and frayed electrical wiring. If the blades are bent, they cannot circulate the air properly, which reduces airflow and could lead to further problems with your unit. Issues with the electrical wiring pose a potential safety hazard along with improper flow of electricity. In addition, the ball bearings inside furnace fans can wear down. This issue is usually accompanied by a scraping sound, and your furnace should be turned off. Not attending to this issue can lead to major problems with your unit.
Regularly scheduled maintenance will allow a professional to evaluate your fan belt and detect any of these issues. Fixing or replacing a furnace belt will help your heating system last longer, be more energy efficient, and head off more costly repairs.
2. Problems With the Pilot Light or Ignition
Depending on your HVAC unit, your furnace may have a pilot light or an electric igniter. Older furnaces tend to use pilot lights, which start the process of heating the air once triggered by the thermostat. They are usually located at the bottom of your furnace and can go out when not used for some time.
A pilot light is a blue flame that ignites the gas that travels into your furnace. A common issue is when a pilot light goes out and does not relight. A low flame setting or a dirty pilot orifice could be the reason. The issue could also be a faulty safety switch, which indicates a more dangerous situation.
Routine maintenance can determine the cause of the and the appropriate next steps. Since pilot lights involve gas, relighting them poses a safety risk that is best handled by a service professional. If a pilot light continues to go out, then it may be time to replace it.
Modern furnaces usually use electronic ignition systems to start the heating process. Once the thermostat sends a signal to your furnace, the igniter initiates a spark that lights up the gas coming to your unit. Some electronic ignition systems do not need a spark and instead heat a surface that makes contact with the gas, which in turn directs heated air into your house.
One issue here is that the fuel nozzle of the ignition can become clogged over time from dirt and debris. This clog in turn blocks the flow of gas. With maintenance, a service professional can inspect and clean the ignition area and arrange for any repairs. If your furnace is not turning on, the issue could be the igniter or pilot light.
3. Issues With the Furnace Burner
The furnace burner is a third area of your heating system that may cause problems without maintenance. Like other components of your furnace, the burner can acquire dust and dirt buildup over time. Once this occurs, your unit may produce inconsistent heating or stop working altogether.
Burners are the part of your furnace where fuel and air combine to produce heat. They naturally accumulate particles and dirt that if left uncleaned can stop them from releasing enough fuel to create combustion. Some furnaces come with one burner, while others have a dual burner. Excessive buildup can stop one or two burners from working, lead to unusual wear and tear, and result in a cold home.
A furnace with a burner that is not working properly usually results in cool air being circulated throughout your house. With a maintenance visit, a technician can check and clean your burner, make sure it is working correctly, and help your house stay warm in the winter.
4. Your Furnace Is Not Blowing Air
A furnace not blowing air is another common issue that can be avoided with maintenance. A dirty air filter is the most likely explanation for this problem.
Air filters catch dirt, dust, mold, and other particles to provide clean air throughout your home. As they collect debris, air filters have to work harder to provide adequate heat. This added strain on your furnace can lead to higher energy bills and a breakdown of your unit.
Usually, a clogged air filter leads to either your furnace not blowing air sufficiently or not at all. While you should check your filter regularly and clean or replace it as necessary, a maintenance visit provides a chance for your technician to check your system for any issues related to the filter. For example, dirty filters can transfer particles to your air ducts, which can reduce your airflow.
The furnace fan or blower, from the first item above, could also cause your furnace to not blow air. It too can get clogged with debris and make your furnace stop working. Service visits can also take care of this issue.
5. A Leaky Furnace
Last but not least, furnaces can produce condensation that may leak on the floor around the unit. High-efficiency furnaces, those with an annual fuel utilization efficiency (AFUE) rating above 90%, can develop this problem. This issue can occur for several reasons.
High-efficiency furnaces rely on a second heat exchanger to convert fuel into heat. By doing so, these units produce condensation. As you use your furnace more in the winter, more condensation develops that can clog the condensate drain line, leading to a leak.
A damaged exhaust pipe is another reason for a leaky furnace. High-efficiency models use plastic PVC exhaust pipes that can become cracked or clogged. An exhaust pipe may also not be fitted correctly and cause a leak as water is drained away. Likewise, your condensate pump may get blocked and lead to water leaking on the floor.
This fifth issue can also be addressed with a maintenance visit. Routine maintenance can go a long way toward heading off potential problems that leave you cold in the winter.
Trustworthy HVAC Services
Please contact us at AJ Danboise Plumbing, Heating, Cooling & Electrical for more information about furnace maintenance. We provide furnace repairs, AC repairs, and installation along with plumbing and electrical services to Farmington Hills, MI, and surrounding areas. We are a dedicated team of professionals who can take care of all your plumbing, electrical, and HVAC needs. Call us today!