When you buy and install a heating system in your home, it’s a significant investment that needs to be protected. Sadly, many homeowners don’t care for their HVAC equipment, and they take their system for granted. This usually results in an equipment failure during a high demand period, and there may be considerable downtime to repair or even replace the entire system. The key to keeping your equipment running efficiently is to schedule some annual maintenance before the heating season begins. Let’s take a closer look at three common furnace problems that can be avoided if your equipment is maintained regularly.
- Electronic Ignition Systems
Many modern residential furnaces now light up with an electronic ignition system. There are two different types of electronic ignitions; they are hot surface and intermittent. The igniters in both of these electronic ignition types can become dirty during regular use.
The hot surface igniter can accumulate a thin layer of dust over the exterior of the igniter unit. This will act as a layer of insulation, and it can prevent the igniter from lighting. The igniter cannot get hot enough to light the gas jet, and the furnace will not work as intended. During routine maintenance, the component in the hot surface igniter will be checked and cleaned to prevent any possible lighting issues.
There is a fuel nozzle located in the intermittent igniter pilot, and this can become clogged over time. The dirty fuel nozzle will prevent the flow of gas, and the furnace will not be able to light. During an annual maintenance check, the fuel nozzle and other components will be checked and cleaned to ensure that the furnace lights correctly.
- Problems with the Fan Components
The heating system in your home will treat the air and then it has to be distributed throughout your home via the ducts. The air is moved into the ducts by the fan, which has a number of critical components that can easily become defective over time.
The fan has mechanical moving parts, and any component that moves will inevitably create some friction. Whenever friction occurs the two surfaces that come into contact with each other can become damaged. For this reason, moving parts need to be lubricated to reduce the friction and reduce the potential for damage.
Another common problem in moving mechanical parts is the vibration created by the movement of the part. Whenever a part is moving there will be some lateral movement that will increase over time as the part begins to loosen. Eventually, the part can even begin to shake, and it could move away from its mounting entirely. A loose fan could easily begin to bang against other nearby components and damage them.
There are many common problems related to a fan in an HVAC system, such as a dry ball bearing creating friction, bent fan blades, worn out fan belts, fan motor issues, and electrical issues. Over time the wiring in the fan unit can become frayed, and this can lead to a burning electrical smell that needs to be fixed as soon as possible.
When you schedule regular annual maintenance for your furnace, the fan will be inspected, and any problems can be identified and fixed. Early detection is preferred; it’s easier and cheaper to fix a minor issue before it can develop further into a major problem that will be harder and more expensive to solve.
- A Dirty Burner Unit
During regular operations, the furnace can become very dirty, and this can affect the performance and efficiency of the heating system. If the burner unit becomes covered in a thin layer of dirt and dust, a number of problems can occur. The burner may be harder or even impossible to light, and the furnace will not work. If the burner can light, the dirty surfaces may cause it to work inefficiently, and this could lead to uneven heating performance. When the burner is dirty, it has to work harder in less than optimal operating conditions, and this can lead to excessive wear and tear. This can lead to an unexpected repair bill, and in extreme cases, it could require a replacement part.
When you have regular routine maintenance carried out on your furnace, the burner will be closely inspected and cleaned. Removing the dirt and dust will allow the burner to light easily, and you can look forward to even heating performance. A clean burner is less likely to fail when you need it most, and the life of the component will be extended.
Some Final Thoughts on Maintenance
Many homeowners skip regular annual maintenance to save money, but this is a bad choice in the medium to long term. When you compare the cost of maintenance to the extensive repairs or even a replacement required on a heating system, it’s far cheaper. The old adage “prevention is better than the cure” is very applicable to regular maintenance for your furnace.
When an HVAC specialist carries out annual maintenance on your furnace, this isn’t a quick inspection followed by some light cleaning. The entire heating system is checked and tuned up to prepare your home for the heating season ahead. This will involve some essential cleaning, but it will also cover lubrication and adjustment of all the moving parts and a thorough examination of the electrical components. Frayed or corroded wiring can be repaired before it fails and causes a fire.
Annual maintenance is no guarantee that the furnace will work perfectly all the time. Unforeseen component failures can occur, but if your heating equipment is inspected regularly be an HVAC specialist, this is far less likely. Detecting problems earlier is advisable because you will be less likely to experience downtime when the weather is colder. If you’ve skipped maintenance in the past don’t despair, a local HVAC specialist will be able to get your heating system back in shape with some expert care and attention.