Winters in Kansas can be brutal, and you depend on your heating system to be working properly. Most of the time, you can turn it on, and it works without any problem. However, this time something did not work correctly, and you are looking for answers.
To understand what may be happening with your heating system, you need to understand how it works, what could be wrong, and how to fix it. Keep in mind that you should use caution when troubleshooting your heating system. You should leave most repairs to a professional HVAC technician to avoid personal injury or property damage.
How Your Heating System Works
Your system works on the simple premise of being able to circulate air. The system draws air in through the intake vent, pushes it through the heat exchanger to warm it, and then pushes it back out into your home.
If there is an airflow restriction somewhere in the system, then it will cause the entire system to become ineffective. These restrictions add additional strain to the rest of the system, causing it to wear more quickly and components to fail.
Within the system are a number of sensors and components that are critical to the system working properly. If any one of these fails, it causes the system to stop working properly. The symptoms you are experiencing will help you determine which component may be malfunctioning and how to proceed.
There are a number of symptoms you may experience with your system, and some may be relatively easy to solve. Some of these problems may be more subtle than others, but they should still be investigated.
The obvious problem is that the system will not turn on. This can be caused by anything from a faulty sensor, blown blower motor, or fuel supply problems.
You may also notice cold air coming from your system. There are multiple issues that can cause this as well, including a burner problem as well as a heat limit switch.
You may notice your system short cycling or turning off before your home is reaching the temperature you are aiming for. Short cycling is commonly caused by airflow restrictions that cause the system to overheat and shut down. A faulty heat limiter switch can also cause the same problem.
Finally, there are the noises and smells your system may emit. Odd smells can indicate problems ranging from the system needing to be cleaned to a cracked heat exchanger.
Likewise, odd sounds can lead you to a possible problem before it becomes catastrophic. Sounds can tell you when a component is about to fail, when there are airflow restrictions, or when components are loose and need tightening.
Trained professionals know how to interpret each of these symptoms and how to resolve them properly. Here are a few things you can try on your own that may help quickly solve some of your problems.
Check the Air Filters
Many airflow restrictions stem from clogged filters, and these are one of the easiest things to check and solve in your system. The particular type of filters you use will determine how often you need to change them.
You should plan to replace basic fiberglass filters, which are normally blue, every 30 days. If you use premium extended-life filters, you should replace them at least every 60 to 90 days.
However, to extend the life of your filters, consider vacuuming off the intake side of the filter frequently. Some people include this as part of their weekly cleaning schedule, while others do it just once a month when they check the filters.
The main goal is to check the filters frequently enough that you catch restrictions early. Doing so prevents efficiency degradation and additional strain on your system.
Check Your Thermostat
There are many ways your thermostat may affect your heating system. First, there is the obvious issue of improperly setting it. This is especially problematic when you have others in the home who are capable of changing the settings.
There is also the problem of it not being calibrated properly. While this is not as much of a problem with digital thermostats, it still happens. This happens when the upper and lower limit settings are incorrect.
The bigger problem with digital thermostats is when a weak signal is sending from the thermostat to the furnace. If your batteries are low, then it will not send a strong signal and can affect the sensitivity of the thermostat.
To avoid these issues, keep a close eye on your thermostat. If you experience a problem, be sure the temperature is set correctly and the fan setting is on auto. Finally, change your batteries twice a year to ensure there is always a strong signal.
Inspect Your Registers
Most people ignore their registers almost entirely, but they can be a key to identifying problems. If there is a buildup of dust around your registers, it indicates a problem with contaminants in the system. The contaminants collect most often in the registers as well as on some internal components, like the circulating fan wheel.
Additionally, you want to watch what is placed around your registers. If there is not enough clearance, then air cannot circulate properly, causing the heating system to ineffectively warm the room. You want to keep at least 6 inches of clearance around the register, including above it.
Review Your Maintenance Schedule
One of the best ways to avoid all of these problems is to perform regular maintenance on your system. This is a required part of maintaining your system and its manufacturer’s warranty in most cases. Beyond that, it also minimizes the problems you will see during your system’s operation.
This maintenance must be performed by a trained HVAC technician since it will involve inspecting and cleaning some internal parts of the system. During this visit, a technician will usually:
- Clean critical components
- Tighten the blower motor mounts
- Lubricate the blower motor bearings
- Inspect for signs of electrical problems
- Test system components
If the technician uncovers a faulty component during the inspection, you now have time to schedule the repair. By having the heads up, you avoid costly emergency repairs incurred when the furnace goes down during the cold weather.
Call for Professional Furnace Repair
When components break and your furnace is malfunctioning, you want to call on a professional technician to diagnose and repair the problems. Heating systems can be very dangerous when serviced by someone without proper training. A high proportion of home fires are actually caused by heating systems every winter, many of which could be avoided.
If you notice any of the problems indicated above, be sure to check your air filters and thermostat setting, and batteries. Once you have done that, place the call to schedule your repair visit. Catching problems early and resolving them helps avoid more expensive repairs caused by additional strain on the system.
Fahnestock Plumbing, HVAC & Electric has been serving the Wichita area for more than 70 years. Our team strives to be the one you call for home repairs, including heating, cooling, plumbing, and electrical. When your system goes down, we will be able to find the problem and get it solved quickly the first time. Call to schedule your repair visit today.