We rely on our HVAC systems to keep our indoor temperatures comfortable all year round. But, these are complex systems, they have electronic, mechanical, and electrical components that need to work in harmony. Some people attempt DIY repairs or hire a local “handyman” to work on their HVAC systems, but this is a bad idea. It’s easy to make the problem worse without formal training, special tools, and extensive experience. In this article, we will look at six common HVAC problems and how they can be fixed.
1. Insufficient Maintenance
Unfortunately, some homeowners ignore the maintenance needs of their HVAC system to “save money”, but this is a bad strategy. Many common HVAC problems can be mitigated or avoided entirely with regular HVAC maintenance. A professional technician will carry out an inspection of the system and this is when they identify potential problems. Early identification is key. Smaller issues tend to develop into larger problems when they are ignored. When a smaller issue is fixed, it’s a less invasive process and it will cost less than a more extensive repair. Well maintained HVAC equipment will perform better, it will be more energy efficient and it tends to have a longer lifespan. In the medium to long-term, regular maintenance will save you money on repairs and an earlier than expected replacement. Check with your local HVAC specialist, ask them about a preventative maintenance program and you can save money on servicing.
2. Dirty Air Filters
One of the most underrated HVAC components is the air filter and when it’s dirty, it can have a major effect on the entire system. The HVAC system relies on a consistent airflow to work efficiently and when the filter is clogged it impedes the passage of air. This can lead to a wide variety of problems such as short cycling that can damage the components. The HVAC system may need to work harder to compensate for the lack of airflow and this will drive up the energy bills. Overworked equipment is more prone to failure, which can lead to expensive repair bills.
The saddest aspect of these situations is that they are entirely avoidable and you need no special skills to change the air filter. The air filter housing is easy to access, the full instructions are detailed in the owner’s manual and the entire process only takes a few minutes. The main consideration is that a replaceable air filter should be the same model number. If the air filter is too small, the air will pass around it and particulates can enter the system where they may cause damage. If you have a washable air filter, it can be cleaned under running water and it must be allowed to air dry for at least 24 hours. This is important to prevent the growth of mold on the surface of the air filter membrane. Running the HVAC system without an air filter is inadvisable, so it’s a good idea to have a spare unit on hand.
3. Frozen Outdoor Components
When the weather turns colder, the water that’s held in the lines and coils can be susceptible to freezing under harsh conditions. When water freezes, it expands and this will cause damage to the coil and water carrying lines. If you notice any frozen components, it’s important to contact your local HVAC specialist to fix the problem.
4. A Malfunctioning Thermostat
The easiest way to think about a thermostat is that it is the central brain of the entire HVAC system. So, if there is a thermostat problem, it will affect how the system performs or if it works at all. Whenever there is a problem with your HVAC system, it is worth checking the thermostat first because it may be a simple issue that you can fix with no special training or tools. The first common problem is a failing or failed battery that is preventing the thermostat from working as intended. The second issue is a coating of dust on the sensor unit inside the thermostat that’s causing false readings. The final common problem is a nearby source of heat that’s confusing the thermostat by making it think that the room is warmer than it is. Removing heat sources, cleaning the sensor, and changing the battery may restore normal thermostat operations. But, if the unit has failed, it’s time to contact a local HVAC specialist about a replacement thermostat. This is the perfect opportunity to look at programmable or smart thermostats that may improve the functionality and lower energy bills.
5. Hot and Cold Spots
The heating and cooling needs of rooms in your home can vary depending on a number of factors, including home orientation, shade, the number of windows, insulation levels, and more. Some rooms may feel hotter or colder at certain times of the year and this is natural in most homes. But, if you’ve noticed that the temperature variances are extreme and those areas are heated or cooled, then you may have a problem. There could be a problem with the ductwork system, which is preventing the delivery of treated air to those areas. The HVAC system may be too small to provide adequate heating or cooling for the entire home and this can drive up the energy bills. Contact your local HVAC specialist and ask about a home energy audit to identify the cause of these hot and cold spots.
6. Furnace Ignition Problems
A gas furnace that’s well maintained is a reliable and less expensive way to heat your home during the winter months. But, there are a lot of important components that need to work together in harmony to make the furnace work at optimal efficiency. The parts include the pilot light, flame sensors, the burners, and more. If the furnace cannot ignite correctly, it can lead to a loss of performance, short cycling problems, and exposure to carbon monoxide. When gas is not ignited and full combustion is not achieved, there is a real risk of carbon monoxide poisoning which should be taken very seriously. The usual cause of furnace ignition problems is deposits of burned carbon that can be removed to restore normal operations. Another common problem is a failing component that should be replaced by a licensed and certified HVAC specialist.
If you want to schedule some essential HVAC maintenance or the system is not working at optimal efficiency, contact your local heating and cooling specialist today.