Five Common Heating Problems You May Encounter This Fall
The leaves are falling in earnest here in the Hudson Valley, and we all know that means colder weather is on the way. Soon your heating system will be on the job day and night working to keep your family safe and comfortable.
Sometimes the strain of that workload proves too much for your furnace, and it runs into trouble that needs to be addressed – usually by a heating expert.
Troubleshooting Heating Problems
Here are some heating issues you may encounter in the months ahead, and what to do if you find them.
Furnace doesn’t start – If your furnace won’t start, try these six steps before calling for service – it could save you the cost of a service call:
Make sure all power switches are in the “on” or “start” position, and that your circuit breaker has not been tripped.
Make sure the temperature on your thermostat is set at least five degrees above the current room temperature, and the system switch is on the HEAT or AUTO position. The fan switch should be set to ON for continuous airflow or AUTO.
Check the pilot light, if your equipment has one.
Check the air filter if airflow from your vent seems low; also make sure that vents are not blocked.
Excessive cycling – If your heating system turns on and off (“cycles”) more than it should, it could indicate one of several problems, including a clogged air filter or a faulty thermostat. Check both, changing the filter and swapping out the thermostat if needed. If over-cycling continues, contact a qualified heating contractor.
Inconsistent temperatures – Hot and cold spots in your room could be caused by drafts, or by a heating system problem. Try replacing caulking and weather stripping around exterior windows and adding door sweeps to combat drafts, and consider beefing up your insulation if it’s below recommended R-value levels. If these measures don’t do the trick, you could have an issue with a clogged filter, dirty vents, or dirty/ damaged coils. As a first step, check the filter and get your heating system cleaned (a cleaning should be included in your annual tune-up).
Dry indoor air – As temperatures drop, so does humidity – and some of that dry air ends up inside your home. That can be a problem for people with respiratory issues, and could even spell trouble for wood furniture, artwork, and other fragile items that don’t like over-dry air. The best way to take care of the problem is to have your heating system professionally maintained every year. If you have a forced air system (one with a furnace and vents rather than a boiler and radiators or baseboards), consider adding a whole house humidifier.
Soot or smoke – Soot on your equipment or smoke near it could indicate a serious problem with your equipment, since they are often associated with a carbon monoxide (CO) leak. CO leaks are more common in older equipment: if your furnace is 10 years old or more, have it professionally serviced every year. It is also critical to install carbon monoxide detectors at every level of your house and test them periodically, replacing batteries at least once per year.