It’s important to keep your home nice and warm from the cold outside, and your heating system plays a large role in that. However, when it comes to energy bills, furnace issues, and safety hazards, how can you be sure your furnace is operating like it should to provide you with peace of mind? We’ll answer some of the questions you may have about your heating unit so you can make sure your furnace is effective, safe, and saves you money.
Simple Furnace Fixes
We’ve all had a night where we notice our furnace is blowing cold air, not as much air as usual, or none at all. Sometimes, there could be a serious issue, but other times it may be an easy fix that can be done without needing the help of a professional. So, what should you check for or know about before calling on a heating and cooling company to come and inspect your unit?
Why isn’t my furnace heating?
There could be a lot of reasons as to why your furnace is acting up, but go through this list and see if any of these actions solve your issue. If your furnace is still malfunctioning after these attempts, contact an HVAC company in your area.
Check your thermostat
This may seem obvious, but double-check that your thermostat is set to Heat and that the temperature you chose is higher than the current temperature of your home. If your furnace still does not kick on, then you may need to turn on the fan to force the furnace to start blowing air. Lastly, the problem might be your thermostat itself and not the furnace at all. If it runs on batteries, you will need to replace them and this should be done about once a year.
Reset your circuit breaker
Locate the circuit breaker that is attached to your HVAC system and see if it was tripped. Try resetting it once, but know that this may only be a temporary solution. You will need to call an electrician to determine why the circuit was faulty in the first place. Continuing to reset it could potentially cause a fire.
Clear the area around your furnace
Your furnace is normally located somewhere in your basement, which also ends up being a storing spot for many homeowners. Crowding items around your furnace can keep it from running as efficiently as possible, and could even start fires. Avoid cluttering the area near your furnace and give it the space it needs to do its job.
Change out your furnace filter
Clogged and dirty filters are often to blame for an inefficient furnace. Filters are responsible for trapping dust, hair, and other particles to keep them from circulating back into the air. When a filter gets dirty enough, the furnace unit has to work harder to blow air through, which results in less airflow and a higher energy bill. This could be why your furnace isn’t blowing the amount of air you’re used to. Change your furnace filter about once a month.
Examine vents around the house
Do a walkthrough of your home and locate the vents that are responsible for blowing out air. Are any of them obstructed by curtains, rugs, or furniture? Clear away anything that could be preventing the vents from circulating heat.
Know the age of your furnace
If all else fails, it could be because your furnace is reaching the end of its lifecycle. WIth regular maintenance, a furnace can last for 15-20 years. However, you may need to consider replacing a poorly maintained furnace after 10 years. To find the age of your system, locate the inspection sticker and serial number on your furnace. The first four digits normally represent the year and week, or week and year the furnace was made depending on your manufacturer. If your furnace was made before 2009, you may need to contact a professional for furnace replacement.
Why is my furnace making noises?
It can be a little unsettling when you hear random noises coming out of your furnace. Which ones are normal and which ones should cause concern?
Loud banging when turned on
This is a sound that should not be ignored. If you hear a loud booming or banging noise when your furnace kicks on, it may be expanding and contracting ducts or gas build-up on dirty burners. If you hear this noise, contact a professional immediately to come and perform an inspection.
Scraping of metal against metal
If this noise occurs, make sure your furnace is turned off and contact a heating and cooling professional. This could be a broken or loose part like a blower fan hitting casing. Something like this requires professional replacement and should not be done by someone who is not an HVAC technician.
Rattling from the furnace
A rattling noise could be something as simple to repair as a loose screw or something more severe like a cracked heat exchanger. Take a look at your furnace’s panel for any loose screws and tighten them up. If the noise still occurs, then it could be a leak or crack in your heat exchanger, which if not taken care of, can leak carbon monoxide into your home.
This sound shouldn’t be as alarming as metal on metal, but it is still something to try to hear for. Some of your furnace parts could be dry, and having a Wyckoff technician inspect and lubricate them could help make your home nice and quiet again.
When should my furnace be replaced?
When deciding whether it’s time to replace your furnace or not, try to answer the following questions:
- How old is your furnace? If it’s over 10, then it is reaching the back half of its life cycle.
- How often does your furnace need repairs? If you notice that you’re constantly needing to shovel out money for part replacements, it may be cheaper, in the long run, to get a new furnace instead.
- How efficient is your furnace? The higher the Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio (SEER), the more efficient the unit. As your furnace gets older, your SEER rating can drop which results in a higher energy bill.
Keep Your Home and Family Safe
While some furnace issues can be more inconvenient than harmful, it is still important to recognize what needs to be taken care of right away in order to protect your home and the health of your family.
Can carbon monoxide come from a furnace?
Carbon monoxide is an odorless, colorless gas that when leaked in a home can result in serious health hazards and can even be deadly. Carbon monoxide generates from the combustion process within your gas furnace and when working properly is vented out of your home. Carbon monoxide leaks can be a result of a poorly-installed blower motor, a dirty air filter that causes a backup of airflow, or a broken heat exchanger. Make sure you are up to date on maintenance inspections and that you have working carbon monoxide detectors in your home.
Can a furnace still run with a cracked heat exchanger?
No, do not run your furnace if the heat exchanger is cracked. This crack allows carbon monoxide to leak through and permeate the air. Call a heating and cooling professional to repair your furnace ASAP.
How to Save Energy While Running Your Furnace
Why is it more expensive to heat my house than to cool it?
Think about what temperature you generally keep your home at. Most people choose temperatures in the low 70s. In the summer, temperatures can peak up to about 90 degrees, requiring a 20-degree cooling change. In the winter, average temperatures can drop down to 30-40 degrees which almost doubles the temperature difference in order to keep a home warm. The larger the temperature difference, the more energy that will need to be used to control the climate within the home.
Is it bad to keep my furnace fan continuously running?
While keeping your fan running helps with regulating temperatures across your home, it can spike up your energy bill. Try to avoid using your fan 24/7 unless you’re dealing with mild outdoor temperatures because the home HVAC system won’t have to kick on as much to regulate the temperature.
How can I reduce my utility bill?
There are a couple of different ways you can try to save money on your heating bill each month including:
- Insulate your windows
- Use a programmable thermostat
- Change your air filter monthly
- Consider using a space heater
- Circulate air with fans on a low setting
Contact Wyckoff for Furnace Repair or Replacement
We hope your furnace behaves during this cool season! If you notice any abnormal sounds, a spike in your energy bill, or a lack of heat in your home, contact Wyckoff Heating & Cooling and we will send a SAVE-Certified technician to your home to diagnose the issue and provide steps on what to do next to ensure your home stays warm.