In most cases, if you are suffering from heating issues, it is best to call in a professional. That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t know a few things about your unit. That way you know when there is a problem. Having general knowledge may help you prevent problems before they occur.
Ignition problems with older heaters usually meant the pilot was out and needed to be re-lit. Most of today’s furnaces rely on electric ignitions. The pilot uses electricity to create a spark that lights the burners. It is an intermittent pilot, so it only lights when needed to conserve energy.
Signs that you have an ignition system problem may include frequent cycling, limited heat, or an overactive blower. Problems can be quite varied when it comes to the ignition. Some common causes include
- Temperature limiting controller: This is a safety switch that turns the burner off if it becomes too hot. Blocked air filters or a faulty switch can cause the igniter to turn off prematurely.
- Igniter: Sometimes the problem is as straightforward as an old igniter system. If you have recently had or installed your own ignition, the issue could be an incompatible igniter. It needs to be matched with your furnace’s voltage to work correctly.
- Current: An overpowered current can easily burn out an igniter. If you have experienced a surge of power either from a lightning storm or something else, you may need to replace your ignition system. Check your breaker before calling a professional for heating repairs. Large surges of power often trip the breaker cutting power to your heating unit.
Short cycling is when your furnace turns on and off frequently. The cycles are typically too short to actually heat your home appropriately. The two main culprits are often a dirty filter or a broken fan motor. Unfortunately, it could also mean your current system is sized too small for your home and cannot keep up with the demands. This will cause it to run constantly. Conversely, if it is sized too big, it will start short cycling. Incorrect sizing ultimately leads to you needing to replace your heater prematurely. Hiring a professional technician to install your furnace can help make sure you get the appropriately sized system.
Wear and Tear
Over the years, your system will experience normal mechanical wear and tear. Regular maintenance can help manage mechanical deterioration. Consider scheduling a complete system inspection and tune-up each fall to help prevent the need for major repairs.
Dirt and Grime
It is important to keep your air filters changed and your unit clean. Clogged filters can cause a noticeable effect on efficiency that only gets worse over time. Regular maintenance makes sure that dust and dirt don’t build up on other parts, like coils, and cause other heater issues.
Cleaning coils should be left up to HVAC professionals. The accumulation of dirt and dust may restrict or clog the A-coil reducing and preventing airflow. Dirty coils often lead to a less efficient system and higher utility bills. It can also cause your unit to overheat. In the best-case scenario, this will cause the safety switch to flip and cut power to your furnace. Unfortunately, it could also cause more extensive damage.
When the cold winter days become more frequent, you rely on your heating system to keep your home warm and cozy. Furnace maintenance is important. It prevents major problems during the time of year when temperatures are plummeting and your home could become rather frosty in a short amount of time. Having some basic knowledge about your HVAC system allows you to notice problems before they escalate. One of the most simple tasks that can help your heating system last is to change your air filters religiously.