This winter has surely turned out to be one to remember for Houston area residents. Snow in November, temperatures in the 20’s for New Year’s Eve, and unseasonably cold weather the rest of the time. We aren’t even to Groundhog Day and it’s safe to say we’ve seen more of the low end of the thermometer than we are used to. At the same time, we do not get many opportunities to see significant snow fall so it is a welcome show of nature; right, kids? However, what if we get another arctic blast into the 20’s and your furnace responds with a resounding thud, puffs of smoke, or a stench that smells like scorched earth? Sounds like a problem? Oh, it most definitely is, and may be a costly one at that, but if you follow us, then you already know some of the most common furnace symptoms that can indicate a serious problem that can lead to failure.
Common Causes & Signs of Furnace Trouble
Pay attention to your furnace and it will tell you many things; it’s no Alexa or Siri but if you are observant and have a keen sense of smell, it will give you just as much information on its status. Knowing what it is telling you and what it means can make the difference in a modest repair or maintenance call and an expensive complete overhaul or replacement if you don’t procrastinate in acting:
- Failure to Maintain Regularly: When you do not schedule annual furnace service and inspections you open yourself up to letting very minor wear and tear issues turn into critical failures.
- Clogged Filters: Those filters you see full of dirt and soot are part of the lungs for your furnace. It needs to breathe clearly to function and when you let the airways become obstructed with dirt and other gunk it works harder to breathe. In some situations, ignoring the inexpensive filter replacement can end up costing a lot more when it causes the limit switch to fail, which controls the fan and is a costlier repair.
- Wear and Tear: Wear and tear is normal, it happens and there is nothing you can do to stop it from happening. It can cause airflow issues as well as heat control issues or overheating. Therefore, regular inspections are so important.
- Electric Ignition/Pilot Problems: A defective ignition or pilot light can make it hard to heat your home. Thermocouple issues, drafts in your home or clogs in the furnace are usually what cause an unlit pilot light or ignition failure.
- Thermostat Failure/Inaccuracy: A thermostat that is faulty can lead to the furnace not functioning at the proper level or overworking due to inaccurate temperature sensing.
- No Heat From The Furnace: A furnace that doesn’t heat is useless. This could be due to issues with the thermostat setting, power to the unit, gas line supply or the pilot light malfunctioning.
- Not Enough Output: While a clogged filter usually is the culprit from low output, it can also just be as simple as not having a large enough unit for the size of home you are trying to heat.
- Cycling Too Much: When a furnace cycles from the “On” and “Off” modes too frequently it can be due to a clogged air filter, insufficient air flow or a bad thermostat.
- Blower Constantly Runs: Similar to a cycling problem, if the blower never cycles off it is likely a problem with the limit switch. This component should be left to a trust professional to diagnose and replace.
- Excessive Noise: If your furnace has the shake, rattle and roll that wakes you in the morning; that is a bad sign. It usually means a mechanical issue, a severely clogged burner or an airflow obstruction.
Only You Can Prevent Furnace Failures
We have opined before on the importance of paying attention to what your furnace is telling you. It never fails however, that when that cold snap hits, we still get inundated with dozens of preventable furnace failure calls. Do not underestimate the massive impact that a few proactive furnace maintenance and diagnostic habits can have on extending the life of your furnace:
- Replace Your Air Filters: Airflow that is dirty and full of debris particles leads to many furnace issues and can compound other issues. Make sure you clean or replace your filters at least once a month in accordance with the instructions in the owner’s manual.
- Check Your Thermostat: When your HVAC system is not heating the home to the temperature you set there could be numerous things wrong with your thermostat. If you furnace isn’t producing the right amount of heat, check the batteries in your thermostat and change them, that usually solves this issue. If it seems like it is cycling too often, check the settings and make sure it is set to auto. If it is set to On, Low, or any other setting other than auto, those modes will make the fan run continuously. If you keep having failures, it may be time to call AirTeam to install a new thermostat. A new thermostat will cost anywhere between 100 and 300 dollars on average, but it’s better than letting it go and wearing your entire HVAC system out.
- Inspect Breaker and Power Supply: If your furnace stops working completely or your thermostat screen is blank; first action should be to check the circuit breaker. A blown fuse is almost always the culprit if not a more serious issue. Also, it seems elementary, but never underestimate the fact that it could also be something simple like the cord coming unplugged from the outlet.
- Get A Handle On Those Drafts: If your pilot light keeps going out you may need to close a window or some doors as a draft could easily blow out a pilot light. If all your windows are closed but still letting in a draft, you might need replacement windows as this could indicate a faulty seal in the pane or encasement. If there are no drafts and a problem persist, leave pilot light or electric ignition issues to a professional; it is a delicate component and can be dangerous if you don’t know what you are doing.
- Call AirTeam For Regular Maintenance: Once a year you should call us for an annual check-up. At the end of summer or the beginning of fall is the best time to inspect and maintain your furnace. Our expert techs prep your furnace for the upcoming cold season and can fix small problems before they trigger a complete breakdown.
- Don’t Attempt Mechanical Repairs: That is, unless you have been certified for HVAC repair, but then again if that were the case you wouldn’t be here. The short lesson is HVAC systems can be highly complex and sensitive pieces of equipment. Leave the mechanical repairs of these components to the professionals who have the tools and know how to get your unit repaired safely, without accidentally causing a larger, more expensive issue.
- Natural Gas/Propane Issues: If it seems like your gas line or valve might be the cause of your problems. Stop immediately and call a professional; it is far too risky to try your luck at utility repair with a “baptism by fire” method. You literally might get exactly that if you don’t know what you’re doing.
If Your Furnace Has Lit It’s Final Fire
If you’ve followed these diagnostic and routine maintenance habits and have had a professional out to determine that your furnace is beyond repair and needs replacement; do not fret, it’s not the end of the world. The upside is you found out before a more serious problem caused damage to your home. The key is getting a furnace within your budget that is sufficient to heat your home. It does seem like a daunting purchase and can be if you don’t call the right HVAC company. When you call AirTeam you get years of experience and an honest consultation team among other benefits:
“No Lemon” Guarantee
We care about our reputation in the community, so we won’t lie to you and act like there are never defects in HVAC manufacturing; the fact is it happens. Because we know this we stand behind everything we supply with our “No Lemon” guarantee. If you invest in our Member Value Plus Preventive Maintenance plan and maintain that membership for the life of the unit, we will replace your furnace heat exchanger if it malfunctions or fails within the first ten years. We aren’t in this for the short term; we want lifelong, satisfied customers for generations.
24-Hour Service Guarantee
Your HVAC needs are as unpredictable as Texas weather. We understand that and have our techs available to service your furnace 24/7/365. Your HVAC needs don’t take vacations so neither do we; even if it’s 2am on Christmas Eve, it doesn’t matter we’ll be there for you.
Installation Workmanship Guarantee
When we hire technicians, our qualification criteria are stringent and rigid, it must be. We are depending on our techs to get the job done right the first time, every time. Their skill, their passion for customer service, and their integrity is what separates our team from the rest. Our techs go the extra step to leave your home as if they were never there. From wearing booties around boots to mandatory personal conduct rules such as no smoking or foul language; our guidelines are for perfection. If for any reason a tech doesn’t live up to our standards, we’ll give you a free visit to your home: just notify us of the issue and it will be handled immediately.
Priority Service Guarantee
We aren’t in the sales business, we don’t have quotas and we don’t give bonuses on sales. We are a service provider first and committed to treating our customers the way they want to be treated. We don’t sell you equipment to get your business, we earn it.
Experience the AirTeam Service Difference Today
Let us have a look at your furnace and make sure you are winter-ready, our techs are ready to serve you and show you the AirTeam difference. Just contact us to set up a home visit today and inquire about our MVP plan and let AirTeam be your Team.