When the weather is cold, there’s nothing worse than waking up to a chilly home because the furnace isn’t working correctly, or it has stopped working altogether. The first reaction is to call your local certified HVAC technician to locate the source of the problem and fix it quickly to restore your home heating. But, there are minor furnace problems that you can tackle yourself with little to no experience if you follow a few simple rules. In this article, we will look at four common furnace problems that you can fix yourself.
- The Thermostat is Turned “Off”
This may sound strange, but it’s surprising how many homeowners call for professional HVAC assistance when the thermostat isn’t turned on. This is a very simple fix, simply set the thermostat to the “heat” setting and adjust it to 5º above the ambient room temperature. The thermostat is the brains of your entire HVAC system, and if it isn’t turned on, the system will simply not work as intended. Here are a few more checks that you can carry out to make sure your thermostat is working correctly.
- Some thermostats are battery powered, check the battery periodically to make sure they are working and change them annually.
- Check the times and dates on your thermostat to make sure they are correct for seasonal cooling and heating adjustments.
- Every few months, open up the thermostat and blow away any dust or debris inside that could affect the sensor or clog the unit.
- If the thermostat isn’t working and it’s powered via the mains, check the breaker and fuse to make sure they have not been tripped.
- The Furnace Will Not Produce Heat
There could be a number of reasons why your furnace isn’t producing heat, but it makes sense to make some checks yourself before you call an HVAC professional. Sometimes the furnace heat can be restored by resetting the home circuit breaker, and this is easy if you follow the steps below.
- Check the thermostat is on the “heat” setting and move the temperature up a few degrees to check for any increase in heat.
- If there is no change, it’s time to check if the circuit breaker is tripped or if a fuse has been blown.
- Locate the home breaker panel, find the circuit that controls your furnace and check if it’s been thrown into the “off” position.
- Manually test the breaker by flipping it up and down.
- Place the breaker into the “on” position, and it should stay there when released.
- If this works, the breaker has been reset; if not, there is a problem in the circuit breaker or the circuit wiring, and you need to contact a professional for help.
- The Heat is Inadequate
A furnace that’s struggling to produce an adequate level of heat is a very different problem. There are a number of complicated reasons why this may happen, but one of the most common causes is a clogged air filter. Checking and changing a clogged air filter is an easy task that requires no special skills or tools. Simply follow these steps, and you may be able to quickly restore the heating performance from your furnace.
- Locate the air filter, this is often found in the furnace intake, and it will look like a grate in the wall, floor, or ceiling. Certain furnace models have the air filter inside the furnace itself, so look for an access panel.
- Once you’ve located the filter, take a look at the surface, hold it up to a light source, and if you cannot see any light, it needs to be changed.
- Turn the furnace off, check the replacement filter orientation, an air filter is designed to only filter in one direction, and installing it the wrong way round will reduce the efficiency considerably.
When the air filter is cleaned the furnace will perform better, and the indoor air quality will be improved. An adequate level of airflow is also needed to protect the HVAC system, if there isn’t enough air the heat exchanger can overhear, and this is expensive to replace. Checking and replacing the air filter is a simple preventative maintenance task that can boost performance, reduce energy consumption, and extend the useful lifespan of your heating and cooling equipment. Check the air filter at the start of each month, and your HVAC system will perform better.
If the air filter isn’t clogged or changing it doesn’t work, it’s time to contact a local certified HVAC professional for expert help.
Don’t Ignore A Burning Odor
During the warmer months, we don’t use our furnace, and we quickly forget about it until the weather gets colder. Over time many people begin to store items around the furnace or even on it, and dust accumulates on the surface. When it comes time to fire the furnace up for the first time, there may be a burning odor, and this is a warning sign. Get rid of the smell and reduce the risk of a house fire by following these simple steps.
- Check on and around the furnace for any clutter, such as; garden furniture, tools, ladders, and anything else that may be a fire hazard.
- Vacuum the surface of the furnace to remove any deposits of dust, dirt, and debris that may make that horrible burning odor that spreads throughout the home.
- Excessive dust and dirt around the furnace can quickly clog the air filter, so check it and change it following the instructions detailed above.
- Designate a safe zone of at least 5 feet around the furnace where items cannot be stored to reduce the risks of fire. Post signs, tape off the area, and make sure everyone in the home follows the rules.
Working safely on a furnace is a job best left to a trained HVAC technician. If you encounter any problems outside those detailed here or you’re not confident about trying these fixes yourself, contact a local trusted HVAC contractor for expert help and advice.