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Typical Residential Furnace Problems

| Gee! Heating & Air |

Having a furnace in your home can help to ensure that your family stays comfortable when the weather gets colder. However, with any sort of home system, your furnace is prone to having problems over its lifetime. It can pay to understand what some of the most common issues are, as you can quickly identify the problem and fix it.

Decreased Amount of Heat

One issue you may notice with your furnace after running it for a while is that it’s providing less heat than it used to. This typically indicates that there’s a problem with the airflow throughout the furnace and your ventilation system. In most cases, you can simply change out the air filter for a new one and fix this problem. In other cases, it may be a more complex problem like a rodent infestation inside of the ducting for your home.

Furnace Not Turning Off

One frustrating issue you may notice with your furnace is that it won’t turn off. It’s best to first check your thermostat to ensure that it’s set to auto function instead of the on function. If your thermostat is set to the on function, it will continuously run until you manually shut it off at the thermostat. If your thermostat is definitely set to the auto function, it’s likely that you have a problem with your access panel.

The access panel is most likely to be an issue when you’ve recently worked on your furnace. Your furnace’s access door has a built-in safety switch. When the door is ajar, it prevents your furnace from turning on. This is to ensure that you don’t get injured while working on the system. Unfortunately, if the access door isn’t shut properly, the safety switch won’t disengage. Fortunately, this is a very easy fix. All you need to do is reclose the access panel door the whole way.

Blank Thermostat Display

Whenever it starts to feel cool inside of your home, the first thing you likely do is go over to your thermostat to see what the temperature is. If you notice that the thermostat display screen is completely blank, it could be an indication of a couple of different issues. The first and most obvious is that the batteries for your thermostat have gone dead.

Simply pop off the thermostat cover and put in new batteries to see if that works. If putting in new batteries still does not get the display screen to come up, you want to head down to your electrical panel. Check the circuit breaker for your thermostat to ensure that it wasn’t tripped. If neither of these solutions works, it’s likely an indication that the internal components of your thermostat have gone bad, and you’re going to need to upgrade to a new thermostat.

Flickering Pilot Light

Your furnace has a pilot light that is responsible for helping it burn fuel to heat your home. When this light is working properly, it should be on full blast and have a blue tint to the flame. If you notice that the pilot light is constantly flickering, it’s an indication that there’s a problem with your system. In most cases, you’ll just need to clean off the gas tube that supplies the fuel for the light. If this hasn’t solved the problem and you’re sure there’s enough fuel in your system, you need to call in a professional to handle the situation from here.

Squealing Sound

One rather annoying noise that you may hear your furnace make is a high-pitch squealing noise. As soon as you hear this noise, you want to turn off your furnace right away. This will help to prevent any further damage from happening to your system. The most likely cause of the squealing sound is going to be a bad fan motor belt. These belts tend to wear out over time and can start to fray or even pop off the pulley. You’ll need to replace the belt with a new one in order to get rid of it.

Scraping Sound

Another quite alarming noise that your heating system may produce is scraping. Again, as soon as you hear this noise, you want to shut off your system completely. This is an indication that the ball bearings inside the motor have gone bad. You need to call in an HVAC professional to replace the motor before turning your system back on.

Yellow or Orange Pilot Light

Your furnace has a pilot light that burns blue. If you notice that it turns to burn a shade of orange or yellow, that means that it’s producing carbon monoxide. This is a dangerous gas that can be harmful to your family. It’s imperative that you turn your furnace off before too much carbon monoxide accumulates inside of your home. You’ll want to proceed to call in an HVAC professional to fix your system.

Cracked Heat Exchanger

Your furnace has a unique component known as the heat exchanger. This component is responsible for separating the burning of fuel from the air inside of your home. When this exchanger becomes cracked due to excess heat exposure, it can allow dangerous gases and soot to seep through to your indoor air. If you notice that your heat exchanger is cracked or your heat goes out, it’s time to call in a professional to handle the situation.

Faulty Limit Switch

Your thermostat relies on a limit switch to determine when your indoor air reaches the temperature set. When the limit switch malfunctions, your furnace will continue to run. This is because the thermostat doesn’t know that your indoor air has reached your desired setting. You’ll likely need to call in a technician to successfully replace your limit switch.

Noisy Ductwork

When your heating system kicks on after it’s been cold, it’s likely that your ductwork is going to make some noises. These are described as rattling, pinging, and popping. It’s important to note that these noises aren’t dangerous as they simply indicate that your ducting is expanding due to the furnace’s heat. If you become annoyed by these sounds, you can easily work to eliminate them by installing insulation around your ducting.

Not Blowing Air

If you notice that your furnace is on, but your blower fan doesn’t seem to be working, it could be an issue with the fan belt. When the fan belt breaks apart or slips off of the pulley, the blower no longer works. Without the blower, your system can’t circulate air throughout your home.

This is a fairly easy fix. You’ll need to turn off your furnace and locate the faulty belt. If the belt has broken apart, you’ll need to purchase and install a new one of the same size. If the belt has slipped off the pulley, you’ll want to closely examine the belt. Slippage could be due to a fraying of the underside of the belt. If you notice any fraying, it’s best to replace the belt so that it doesn’t slip off again.

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