Panic sets in. The hairs on both your arms stand up. And suddenly, you discover your new –albeit heightened – awareness of every single ‘whir,’ ‘whiz,’ and ‘wham’ echoing somewhere in the background. No, this is not a description of the typical post-horror-movie ambiance, although the scenario painted may very well initially strike most as being even more frightening than an ominous movie night gone wrong: This is, in fact, a very real depiction of the emotions people feel the moment they notice something has gone terribly wrong with their furnace. Fortunately, however, the realization doesn’t have to turn into a ‘thriller night’ for you as there are usually a few simple and effective measures you can take to handle your furnace problems yourself without having to resort to professional furnace repair in Newmarket.
1. Clogged Filters
The number one culprit behind blocked filters is dirt. Whenever filters are clogged, air cannot circulate freely, causing the system to work twice as hard only to result in poorer heating. One way to avoid this problem is by regularly cleaning the filters and making sure no damage has been caused to the limit switch.
2. Faulty Thermostat
The thermostat is the dial that allows you to determine the heat settings needed, based on the room dimensions. If the thermostat malfunctions, it could begin to display incorrect temperature levels and even ultimately damage the fan. To keep your thermostat running smoothly, replace the batteries often, and verify that the calibrations of the thermostat are set to their default requirements.
3. Noisy Furnace
Any kind of screeching or rattling sounds should be cause for concern. Whistling sounds in particular are probably caused by clogged filters. However, if cleaning the filters did not eliminate the noise, then the problem is likely to be mechanical in nature. In this case, either tighten the belt or replace the motor.
4. Mechanical Wear and Tear
Even the most-state-of-the-art machinery experience a gradual decrease in performance over time due to overuse. That said, because furnaces consist of multiple codependent parts, if just one component breaks down, it usually sets off a chain of complications resulting in airflow problems, overheating, or other serious issues that might affect the overall efficiency of your furnace. To a certain extent, wear and tear is both expected and normal so as a general rule of thumb: If you are able to figure out, which part requires your intervention, you can always attempt to repair it yourself. Otherwise, it’s best to consult a professional if serious damages are detected.
5. Failing Ignition Systems
If malfunctions occur with the ignition or pilot, heating a home could prove to be challenging. The good news is, several issues could cause an unlit pilot light so identifying the source of the problem is the first step towards solving it. To resolve the error, try taking a look at the thermocouple (to see if it’s functioning properly), the pilot orifice (to make sure there’s no blockage), the flame setting (to readjust it if it’s too low), and/or the safety switch (to consult a technician in case it’s damaged).
Now what? Maintenance, maintenance, and more maintenance
So, you dealt with the issue at hand and feel like you can now forget about your furnace for a little while. Right? Dead wrong. Prioritize maintenance. Why? Because it’s proactive and proactive is just another fancy synonym for cost-effective. To ensure that your heating units are operating at optimum efficiency follow these four crucial steps:
1. Replace Filters Frequently
Although cleaning filters is good practice, replacing them once in a while is even better. New filters can eliminate any type of particulate from dust to pollen, and even pet dander and bacteria. Inexpensive filters are convenient for the average user and can be replaced every 30 to 90 days. More expensive air filters are better suited for people with asthma or serious allergies as they offer enhanced air quality and last up to three months or longer, depending on the quality of the furnace.
2. Routinely Check for Motor Malfunctions
Because the motor powers the fan then pushes the air through the heat exchanger, it’s safe to say that if the motor breaks down, it’s likely going to cause either another mechanical or electrical malfunction. The key is to consult an expert opinion as soon as an unusual sound is heard so that the problem can be detected and handled immediately before it begins affecting other furnace components.
3. Decrease Heating Load
Briefly put, invest in Home Energy Audits to help you detect where your home is losing energy. All you need to do is consult a heating professional who can pinpoint the weak spots in your home and suggest simple measures you can take to improve your energy efficiency like weather-stripping windows and doors, sealing and insulating duct work, and/or adding insulation to the attic. Home Energy Audits should be routinely conducted once every two to three years to optimize efficiency and cost-reduction.
4. Inspect All Household Vents
Similarly, for air to circulate freely throughout the house, the vents should be clean and functional. In short, the vents must be open and not accidentally blocked by furniture, libraries, or other household items. If a vent is shut, the furnace will have to
overwork to deliver the same results, resulting in overuse and premature wear and tear.
When to call it quits on your dreams of being a do-it-yourselfer
That said, whenever sensitive mechanical parts and electricity are involved, sometimes it really is just better to realize the issue is one that is clearly outside your area of expertise, and simply call a professional or technician. After all, while many furnace-related problems are easy enough to troubleshoot yourself, it would be wise to remember that no matter how ‘well-maintained’ your furnace may be numerous safety hazards are always possible. So, if you’ve invested any amount of money to stay warm by purchasing a furnace, you might as well invest a little more in your general wellbeing by having an expert inspect it thoroughly and make sure everything is all tuned-up as it should be.
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