Before calling a technician for a costly repair, there is a small checklist that can be looked over to see if the problem can be easily fixed at home.
Thermostats, especially programmable ones, can be complicated. The more options a thermostat has, the more that can potentially go wrong, and sometimes improper use of the thermostat is the only thing causing problems.
- Make sure it is set to “heat” and not “cool”.
- Check temperature settings.
- Check to see if room temperature and thermostat temperature are matching by adjusting temperature up five degrees and seeing if furnace kicks on.
- See if the program is displaying the right day and time, as well as a.m. and p.m. settings.
- See if there are any breaks in wiring from thermostat to furnace. If a break is found, splice the line back together and wrap it with electrical tape.
- Replace battery (every year is suggested). The settings will be lost and the thermostat will revert to default programming if the power is lost.
- Clean and dust off the thermostat, even opening it up and blowing out any dust and debris. Make sure it is attached securely to wall, it is level, and no wires are loose.
- If the program settings are not functioning properly, you can bypass them altogether by simply punching in the temperature you want with the up/down control and then pressing “hold”. That will activate the furnace if the thermostat programming is the problem. (Note that this is NOT a long term solution.)
Check Shut-Off Switches and Breakers
It might sound silly, but sometimes the only issue is that the furnace hasn’t actually been turned on. Locate your furnace’s standard wall switch on or near the unit and make sure it is switched to the “on” position. Check the circuit breaker or fuse and make sure the front panel covering the blower motor is securely fastened by fully depressing the push-in switch under it.
Dirty or clogged filters are the most common cause of furnace problems. A clogged filter can cause the furnace to shut off early because the dust and dirt restrict airflow, causing the heat exchanger to overheat and shut off too quickly. If you find that the furnace is running, but no heat is coming out, replace the filter. A dirty filter can also lead to buildup on the heat exchanger, reducing the efficiency of the furnace and even shortening its life.
If you aren’t sure when or how to change your filter, look through your owner’s manual to see where the filter is and how to remove it. Inexpensive flat filters need to be changed every month. Pleated filters should be inspected once a month, but usually last a bit longer. If you can still see through the filter when it’s held up to the light, it is still good. If there is no light coming through, it is time to change the filter out. These filters can last up to three months, but should be changed more often if you have pets, kids or just generate a lot of dust. The most efficient and highest recommended is our four inch filter that lasts from six months to a year. At Redding Comfort, we believe in giving the best to each costumer and so this filter has become our standard installment, unless customer has requested otherwise.
NOTE: Always make sure the system is shut off or turned all the way down before changing the filter or working on the thermostat or furnace.
Make Sure the Gas Is On
Just as with the switch, so many times technicians are called out simply because someone had turned off the gas valve and forgot to turn it back on. Trace the gas line back from the furnace to the meter, and if there happens to be a handle along the line that is perpendicular to the gas pipe, rotate it so that it is parallel. If the furnace or boiler is old, there is most likely a pilot light. To access it, remove the front panel and the burner cover and check to see if it is lit.
Make Sure the Chimney Exhaust Flue is Clear
Sometimes debris will fall into the chimney exhaust flue and clog the air flow. Sometimes even a bird will be drawn by the warmth and get stuck there. Making sure to turn the furnace off and the thermostat all the way down first, dismantle the duct where it exits the furnace and check for debris. Make sure to reassemble the sections in the same order and direction they came off.
Flush Out Drain Lines
During heating season, high-efficiency furnaces can drain off several gallons of water a day. If the lines become restricted by debris or mold growth, the furnace will shut down. If you see that the hose looks dirty, remove it and fill with a mixture of 25 percent bleach and water. Let it flush around for several minutes, then drain.
Look for blocked or leaky ducts that can restrict airflow
If the furnace turns on but the heat isn’t distributing to every single room, make sure all the registers are open. Examine any ductwork you have access to and look for gaps between sections or branching points. Seal any gaps found with special metal duct tape; standard cloth duct tape will quickly deteriorate and may cause ducts to leak again. If there are any handles (dampers or air conditioner bypasses), protruding from the ductwork, make sure these are open as well.
Clean Away Leaves and Debris From Heat Pumps or Intake and Exhaust Vents
If the furnace vents out to the side of the house, keep the area of intake or exhaust clear. If either of the pipes is covered with screen mesh, replace it with ½ in. mesh hardware cloth. If you are having a problem with ice clogging a pipe, there is a bigger problem somewhere in the system. Clear it off and make sure to call a technician to inspect the situation. For heat pumps, make sure grass and leaves are cleared from fins of outdoor compressor unit. Gently hosing it down from top before the heating season starts will rinse dirt and debris out of the housing.
Common Furnace Repairs
There are many reasons why your furnace may not be working correctly. We’ve compiled a list of common repairs below.
Lack of Maintenance
Because new home heating systems are such a large investment, it is extremely important to keep up on a proper and regular maintenance schedule. This will keep your system in proper working order and extend its life. Neglecting regular maintenance will most likely lead to unexpected break downs, an increase in energy costs, and an inefficient unit.
Dirty or Clogged Filters
Filters need to be changed every 30 days, or every 3 months at the latest, to keep them clean and unclogged. This step is one of the most important and simplest steps to keeping your furnace healthy and efficient. If the filter is dirty, air flow is restricted and the unit has to work much harder to circulate warm air through your home, putting unnecessary strain on the furnace.
Mechanical Wear and Tear
Your furnace is made up of many essential parts that all play a role in the correct operation of your system. Wear and tear on any of these parts may cause issue with the performance of the unit such as belts and bearing, causing furnace overheating or poor heating control, or air flow problems from fan motors.
Pilot or Ignition Control Problems
If the heat is intermittent or nonexistent, it could be that your furnace’s ignition control could be malfunctioning. Typically there is one of two types of ignition systems in place, either a hot surface ignition or an intermittent pilot. The hot surface ignition system uses a resistance heating element controlled electronically to ignite the gas burner. The intermittent pilot system is also electronically controlled, but when the thermostat signals for heat, it uses a high voltage electrical spark to ignite the gas pilot, then the main burners.
The thermostat is the device that controls when, how much, and what temperature heat comes out of the HVAC system. Problems can arise from incorrect programming, incorrect use, or just having a faulty thermostat. Problems can include little or no heat, no fan to force the hot air through your home, or intermittent heat, all of which can interfere with your home comfort.
Any of these issues can be quickly diagnosed and serviced by one of Redding Comfort’s expert technicians.