Diagnosing Common Furnace Problems

Let’s face it, your home’s furnace is likely not the first thing you think of when you wake up in the morning — unless your heating system isn’t working as it should. Then it’s ALL you can think about! Before panicking and thinking that the only solution for your frosty home is to replace the furnace, check out our list of common furnace problems that homeowners face, especially during the dead of winter.

Problem #1: Certain rooms don’t feel as warm as they should.

Check the vents to be sure they aren’t blocked. Many times, homeowners don’t realize that they’ve placed a piece of furniture, or a rug, or drapes over their heating vents. Then, when the warm air from their heating system isn’t able to flow through the space like normal, the room feels much colder. Also, make sure that the vents are in the “open” position and not closed off.

Additionally, dirty, dusty ductwork could be an issue. When there are obstructions inside your ducts, warm air from your heating system can’t flow easily to and through all vents in your home. If it’s been a while since you’ve had your ducts cleaned, now is a great time to schedule an appointment to get them cleared out.

Problem #2: Furnace isn’t warming your home as well as it should.

Many times, a heating system that doesn’t cycle on/off as it should to warm the home is a result of a thermostat issue. Check your thermostat to be sure it’s at the proper setting — often, a thermostat may get bumped or adjusted unknowingly. If the settings seem correct, make sure that the unit’s batteries aren’t in need of replacement (that is, if it is powered by batteries).

If this doesn’t take care of the issue, you may need help diagnosing the problem with the assistance of a trained heating professional.

Problem #3: Heating system is making strange noises when running.

If your furnace is making odd clanking or banging noises, and it isn’t a result of the unit sitting idle for a long period of time — this can happen as a natural result of the metal expanding — then the problem could be that a part within the unit has become worn out and is in need of repair or replacement. This could also be an indication of something more serious, such as a clogged burner or an airflow restriction. These issues are best left to the experts to diagnose and fix.

Problem #4: Furnace is cycling on/off more frequently than normal.

Often, this is a result of a clogged air filter. You should replace your filter at least once a month, more often if you have smokers or pets in your home. If it’s been a while since you’ve replaced the filter, it could be coated in dirt and dust. This airflow restriction puts extra strain on your heating system, causing it to work harder than it should to push warm air through the filter and out through the ducts and vents in your home.

When the furnace isn’t able to move this warm air like it should, the thermostat may send signals to the system to cycle on again to get your home’s interior warmed up to the desired temperature. This on/off cycling can lead to premature wear and tear on your system and may result in an unexpected breakdown of the unit — as well as higher energy bills.

Problem #5: Furnace doesn’t come on at all.

If you have a heating system that is powered by natural gas, a failure of the unit to fire up could be an indication that the pilot light has gone out. If you have an electric-powered furnace, this could be a warning sign that something is wrong with the power being supplied to the unit. Regardless, this is a problem that is best diagnosed and treated by professionals. Do NOT attempt to re-light your furnace’s pilot light yourself!

Important: If you smell natural gas in your home, leave immediately. Do not operate anything that could cause a spark, including lights, cell phones, flashlights, and appliances. From a safe location, call 911 and your local utility, which will dispatch a crew to check on the source of the odor and make the area safe.

Get protection from the unexpected!

To protect your heating system in case of an unexpected breakdown, Oncourse Home Solutions offers an affordable Heating Repair Plan. When you’re enrolled and a covered problem occurs, just give us a call and we’ll take care of the rest. We’ll send a pre-approved, experienced heating technician to your home to take care of the problem for you — during a time that will work with your family’s busy schedule!