A properly installed furnace that’s regularly tested and maintained by a certified HVAC professional should operate efficiently without problems. But, there is a difference between a normal furnace service and an emergency repair. The last thing that you need when the weather is cold outside is a furnace failure. It’s important to understand that some furnace problems are more severe than others, and these types of problems need urgent attention. In this article, we will look at six common furnace problems and explain if they need a professional fix.
- Strange, Loud Noises
Under normal operating circumstances, your furnace should make little to no discernible noise. It’s normal to notice a low noise, which is the treated air moving along the ductwork, but if the noise is louder than usual, you may have a problem. This may be a lack of insulation that is causing the ductwork to be louder than normal. If the source of the loud noise is the furnace, this could be caused by a pilot light that needs adjustment or the blower motor needs oiling at the lubrication ports. Other common causes include a dirty burner unit and a loose belt that needs adjustment. Let’s take a closer look at some common noises and their likely cause.
Rattling: This is usually a loose panel that needs to be tightened.
Grinding: This could be the motor bearings, and an HVAC repair specialist should be called to fix them.
Squealing: This is the belt that connects the fan to the motor. It may have slipped and need adjustment, or it may be failing entirely and need a total replacement.
Popping: This is usually caused by a thermal expansion. The ductwork is contracting and expanding as it cools and heats up again.
Strange noises may not seem like a big deal, but they should be checked by an HVAC professional. Think of these noises as a warning. When a problem is detected earlier, it’s usually easier and less expensive to fix.
- Electrical Problems
We rely on electricity to power many systems in our homes, and this includes the heating and cooling systems. All electrical issues should be investigated and fixed by a professional. It is true that a basic understanding of electrical systems can protect you from electrocution, but it may be a better idea to avoid the risk entirely. Here are three sobering facts on electrical home safety.
- Electrical malfunctions caused almost 44,000 home fires annually.
- These electrical fires cause around 430 deaths and 1,600 injuries.
- They also cause around $1.5 billion worth of property damage!
It’s a good idea to find a local trusted HVAC professional and have them on speed dial. Then, when you have electrical problems, you won’t be searching around for someone to help you discover the cause and fix it quickly.
- The HVAC System is Rapidly Turning On and Off Again
When a furnace is turning on and off again rapidly, this is called “rapid cycling”. There are many reasons why this may happen, and it needs to be fixed quickly. A common reason is a dirty or worn out air filter that needs to be cleaned or replaced. This is an easy fix. The full instructions are detailed in your owner’s manual. A clogged air filter prevents the circulation of air, which can place additional stress on the compressor. Over time this can lead to mechanical failures, and it may even shorten the useful lifespan of your heating and cooling equipment. Short cycling can also occur when the blower motor and fan belts need to be adjusted or replaced. Finding the exact cause requires the services of a professional HVAC technician.
- The Heating System is Only Blowing Cold Air
The blower could be clogged with debris, and there may be a flashing light in green or red, which mean different things.
- If the light is green, everything is working fine.
- If the light is red, you need to call an HVAC technician and ask about a service.
- If there is no light at all, the furnace issues may be related to other problems, including the run capacitor, the blower motor, the thermostat, the transformer, or the furnace control board. All of these problems should be investigated by an HVAC technician.
In summary, if the light is green, the furnace is running fine, anything else and you need to get some professional help.
- Foul Odors
Because gas is toxic and odorless, an odor of sulfur which smells like rotten eggs is added as a warning. So, if you can smell rotten eggs, you need to get out of the home immediately and call for help. This odor is extremely distinct, you cannot confuse it with anything else, and it means you have a gas leak. Here are nine steps that you need to follow.
- Get your family out of the home.
- Don’t turn on lights because it can ignite the gas.
- Avoid using the stove.
- Leave any windows open or open a few on your way out.
- Don’t use a cell phone or phone in the home.
- Leave the car in the garage, don’t start the engine!
- Get to a neighbor’s house and call for help.
- Do not return to the home until the gas leak is fixed.
- Turn off the gas if you can do it safely.
- The Pilot Flame is Not Blue
The pilot flame should be blue. If the flames are yellow, it may indicate a combustion problem. The gas is not being burned efficiently, and this can lead to an excess of carbon monoxide. This is very difficult to detect without a smoke detector, and this is why it’s known as “the silent killer”. Carbon monoxide may be found in gas ranges, fireplaces, and the furnace. It’s a highly toxic gas, and it can poison anyone that breathes it quickly. If your furnace has a dirty burner and/or condensation in the unit, it can malfunction, leading to carbon monoxide buildup. It’s a great idea to get the burner assembly cleaned annually as part of an HVAC system checkup.
If you’re affected by any of the issues discussed in this article, contact your local certified HVAC professional for expert help and advice today.