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Posted 10/09/2017

Common Furnace Problems and How to Deal with Them

Common Furnace Problems and How to Deal with Them

Most homes in the United States are equipped with a central heating or cooling system. Whether you enjoy your summers going to the beautiful beaches in Florida or hibernate during the cold winters in Alaska, you need a central cooling or heating system. Most homes are heated with air furnaces or water boilers. Air furnaces, as the name suggests, heat up the air and distribute it throughout the house or office using a network of air vents and ducts. Whereas boilers heat water to produce steam which is channeled to other areas of the building using pipes and heating coils. Steam boilers are less efficient and more costly to run than regular air furnaces and water boilers. It is important for the heating system to function efficiently and up to its maximum potential to avoid the freezing cold.

How is efficiency measured?

Efficiency is measured by the annual fuel utilization efficiency (AFUE) scale. It is the comparison of the annual output of heat to the amount of fuel required to burn. For consumer protection, it is required by the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) for all new companies and models producing furnaces to mention their AFUE. This allows consumers to make an informed decision by comparing old and new models side by side. An AFUE of 80 percent shows that 80 percent of the inputs were converted to produce heat whereas the remaining 20 percent is lost to the surroundings. AFUE in the range of 90 to 100 percent indicates high efficiency levels. AFUE less than 90 percent shows that the furnace is an old production unit or might require repairs.
As seen with electric cars, the prime example of Tesla Motors, electricity is the most efficient source of energy. Therefore, all electric furnaces and boilers have an AFUE rating of almost 100 percent. However before you decide to go for the all-electric option, consider the cost of electricity in your state. Often it so happens, that the cost of electricity incurred alone outweighs the benefits of having an electric furnace built in to your home.

5 DIY Techniques for general maintenance of the furnace in your home

You notice that the heating doesn’t work as well as it used to or it doesn’t work at all. Winter is coming and you could have a crisis on your hand if it is not taken care of. Furnaces have a tendency of breaking down when you need them the most. Here are 5 tips and tricks that you can implement without the need for hiring a professional:

  1. Check the thermostat

    Although it is quite an obvious piece of advice, many people fail to do so just because it is (so obvious). Sometimes it is set too low or sometimes it has just stopped responding entirely. Check the batteries and replace them if there is a need. Check the thermostat settings and set them according to your preference for better performance. If changing the fan speed settings causes no changes, it is very much possible that the controller has been disconnected from the main unit. You will have to get an electrician to help you out of this one.

  2. Check the fuse

    Overheating of the motor or the furnace working extra hard due to reduced air flow, the fuse might have melted. It is actually better because otherwise there is a danger of a short circuit. Check the trip meter, the fuse and power at the main circuit board to make sure everything is the way it is supposed to be.

  3. Clean the exterior parts

    Keeping things clean whether it is the engine of your car or the vents and air filters of the heating system of your home, increases the life span and gives better performance out of the system. Dirty and clogged air filters can cause a series of problems. Always follow the manufacturer’s guidelines and conduct regular inspections to make sure everything is clog free. Manufacturers usually recommend monthly checks. The best way to do this is to use a vacuum to clean the blower area. If you want to go the extra mile, take out the fan unit and clean each blade individually.

  4. Be alert for weird smells from the ventilation system

    In case of a gas leak or a dead animal in the vents you will be able to smell a pungent odor coming from the vents. If it is gas that you smell, make sure no flame is lit inside the house. Check the kitchen stove as well. Once you’re certain, evacuate the building and call a professional. Animals such as squirrels and raccoons can get into the central unit in search of warmth during the winter. If you smell a rotting corpse, you might need to call an exterminator as well.

  5. The pilot might have gone out

    If the pilot goes out due to strong winds or a draft in the ducts, chances are the pilot flame has gone out. Close all the doors and windows to the room and try lighting it again. If it still doesn’t work, chances are that there is a leak in the shaft which is allowing air from outside to enter. Hire a reliable HVAC company to take a look at it for you.

Following these DIY tips might help you save a lot of money on expensive repairs plus it will elongate the life of your equipment. Well kept houses fetch good prices in the real estate market, if you are thinking of selling.  Fixing things by yourself might seem like the manly thing to do, but today’s complex machines and systems require a lot of attention to detail. If you have no idea what you are doing, or haven’t received any professional training, it is always safer to let the professional handle it because you might just cause further damages that weren’t there to begin with.