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Common Heating System Problems to Watch Out For

Although it’s designed to be as reliable as possible, it’s not unexpected for your heating system to run into an issue or two during its life. These issues usually range from minor inconveniences to problems that could sideline your heating system when you need it most. It’s important to keep an eye out for these issues so proactive measures can be taken against them.

The following are a few common issues you could be dealing with throughout the heating season.

There’s No Heat Coming from Your Furnace

The whole point of your furnace is to keep your home warm and comfortable, so if you’re not getting any heat out of it, it’s likely due to the following issues:

  • The main power to the furnace is turned off, usually due to a tripped circuit breaker.
  • Your pilot light isn’t on or the electronic igniter isn’t working.
  • There’s little to no fuel being delivered to the pilot or the burner.
  • The heating element on your electric furnace isn’t working.
  • Your thermostat is set to the wrong mode.

Any of the above could be responsible for keeping your furnace out of action. Although a simple reset may fix some of these issues, it’s best to have a professional take a quick look at your furnace.

There’s Plenty of Heat, But No Air to Deliver It

Another common problem you might run into with your heating system is a lack of adequate airflow. Although your furnace is able to produce reliable heat, it might not be able to deliver that heat for a number of reasons.

A problem with the furnace’s blower fan, such as a burned-out motor, a broken drive belt or damaged fan blades, can prevent air from circulating properly. Damaged ductwork, including portions of the duct that have separated or developed cracks and holes, can redirect heated air elsewhere and starve rooms of expected heat. Even a clogged air filter can prevent air from moving through the heating system, causing a drastic loss of airflow.

The Thermostat Won’t Work Correctly

Thermostat malfunctions are another common issue you could face as you prepare your furnace for the upcoming winter months. Most problems can be traced back to a thermostat that’s incorrectly programmed, so it’s important to make sure it’s not only set on “heat” instead of “cool,” but that it has the right temperatures programmed to enable a successful call for heat.

Problems can also arise from a thermostat that was wired incorrectly during installation. Breaks within the wiring can also cause electrical shorts and intermittent operation. Also, keep in mind that most thermostats are battery-operated and those batteries could fail after years of constant operation.

Your Furnace Makes a Lot of Noise

Strange noises are also a common problem for many furnaces, especially for those that haven’t been used in months. These noises often include:

  • Thumping, banging and rattling sounds caused by loose components
  • Screeching or squealing noises caused by a worn belt or metal-on-metal contact due to poor lubrication
  • Fast-paced smacking sounds caused by objects or debris stuck on the blower fan blades
  • Constant clicking sounds caused by defective relays or other electrical controls

Your HVAC professional will be able to pinpoint the exact source of these sounds and take the necessary steps to correct the underlying cause.

You Smell Odors Coming From Your Furnace

Even your nose knows when something’s up with your furnace. Strange odors can signal plenty of underlying issues that could turn into major problems if left to their own devices. Here are a few common odors and what they mean for your furnace.

Burning Dust 

Of all the odors you could smell from your furnace, burning dust is perhaps the least problematic. In most cases, it’s just a thin layer of dust and debris being burned off as your furnace heats up for the first time. The odor usually goes away on its own after an hour or two of operation.

Metallic Odors 

Overheated wiring and other electrical components can produce an acrid, metallic odor. The smell of burning plastic may also follow due to melting wiring insulation or plastic components.

Musty, Moldy Odors 

Musty odors are usually caused by bacteria and/or mold growth within the furnace. If your furnace is equipped with a condensate pump or shares space with your A/C system’s evaporator coil, they’ll need thorough cleaning to eliminate the odor.

Spilled or Burning Fuel 

If you have an oil-fired furnace, then you may get an occasional whiff of the fuel oil it uses if any of it is spilled during fueling. The smell of burnt fuel is often caused by burners that aren’t operating as efficiently as they should.

Rotten Eggs 

Natural gas contains an additive that is used to help homeowners and professionals detect gas leaks. If you smell rotten eggs or sulfur, you should immediately exit your home and call your local fire department, as there could be a serious gas leak in progress.

When it comes to these and other heating system issues, the professionals at Magnolia Plumbing can help. Contact us today and schedule an appointment with a seasoned expert.

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