3 Frequent Furnace Problems

As summer turns into fall and winter starts to creep closer, it's time to turn off your air conditioner and pay attention to your furnace. Hopefully, you've followed the advice on our blog post on how to keep your furnace in good repair during the summer. But if you didn't have time to maintain your furnace or if it's nearing the end of its lifespan, you might find yourself dealing with some of the following common repairs this winter.

If you experience any of these problems, though, don't worry too much. We'll talk you through why these problems happen and how a HomeSmart service technician can help.

1. Age That Leads to Inefficiency

Most furnaces are only built to last 20 years at most, though some sturdier models can last up to a quarter of a century. This means furnaces last longer than your air conditioner, which will probably only work efficiently for about 15 years, but they still need to be replaced at the end of their lifespan.

If you have an older furnace, you'll probably notice a few key problems, like:

  • The heater runs for a long time but just barely heats the room.
  • The heater takes too long to kick on after you turn up the thermostat.
  • Your energy bill is higher this winter than you remember it being in the past. When it runs, your furnace is loud enough that the noise is distracting.

No matter how well you've maintained your furnace, these types of problems are bound to develop as it ages. Don't feel guilty about its breakdown-all appliances experience normal wear and tear as their parts run, and after a few decades, it's normal for your furnace to experience the above problems.

If you've noticed these problems, you have a few options. You can choose to repair some of your furnace's oldest or least functional parts and perform typical maintenance like changing the filters. But if the cost of repairs exceeds the cost of purchasing a new furnace, you should bite the bullet and invest in a new model.

Your HomeSmart service technician can recommend the right type of furnace for your home. As with your air conditioner and water heater, you don't want to choose a furnace that's too big or too small. Otherwise, the appliance's efficiency will decrease. You might also want to pay a bit more upfront to invest in a unit with a high efficiency rating, especially if you plan to stay in the same home for several years. 

2. Pilot Lights That Go Out Constantly

Pilot lights are some of the most finicky components of your gas heater. If your light goes out once or twice, you can simply relight it as long as you take necessary safety precautions, like turning off the gas and electricity before you start. If you've never relit a pilot light before, ask your HomeSmart service technician to show you how to do it.

However, if the light goes out consistently, you probably have an issue with your thermocouple. A thermocouple senses whether or not your pilot light is producing enough heat. If the thermocouple's sensors are off, it can turn off the pilot light instead of signaling to the furnace that it's okay to turn on.

If your thermocouple is loose, a HomeSmart service technician might be able to tighten it, or you might need to replace the entire part. Thermocouples aren't very expensive, so replacing it shouldn't be a big problem.

If you suspect your thermocouple isn't working, you should get in touch with a technician quickly. Natural gas furnaces are dangerous when their sensors don't work correctly or when there are issues with the pilot light. Always make sure your carbon monoxide sensor is functional and has fully charged batteries.

3. Thermostats That Don't Work

If you change your thermostat but don't notice a corresponding change in temperature, you might need to replace your thermostat. But before you call a technician, check your filters. Have you changed the filter within the last three months or, if you have a pet or smoke indoors, within the last month? If not, change it immediately. This simple step could solve your problem.

You can also open the thermostat panel and see how dusty the inside is. Gently blow the accumulated dust off and see if that helps. If you have a more modern system, check the batteries. This seems like an obvious step, but it's surprisingly easy to overlook small issues like up-to-date batteries.

If none of these steps solve the issue, your thermostat could have a wiring problem that makes it unable to sense the temperature change, or it could simply be too old and winding down just like your furnace will.

Get In Touch With HomeSmart

If you're experiencing any of the above problems with your furnace, call HomeSmart and schedule a service call with one of our certified service technicians. These three problems are incredibly common, and we can offer quick, effective, and long-lasting repairs. Stay warm this winter by familiarizing yourself with the above issues and contacting us for help as soon as they happen.

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