If you suddenly find yourself without heat, you may find yourself trying to troubleshoot (and even solving) the problem while you wait on Choice HVAC to arrive. So, rather than sending you out into the great google sphere alone, today we're going to discuss some of the most common heater problems you may run into and how to resolve it.
Heater Problem #1: The heat turns on, but doesn't stay on.
One of the most common problems we run into is that the heat turns on, but doesn't stay on. OR, that the heat turns on, but shuts off after a fairly short amount of time. Either way, if your HVAC system is not properly maintained throughout the year, you’ll likely run into a problem the first time you turn your heater on for the winter. Luckily, this is a common problem with an incredibly easy fix.
- Read the manual for your unit and maintain it regularly. Even better, schedule a maintenance check with a certified HVAC professional in the fall, before you turn your heater on for the first time, especially if you live in an older home. An annual tune-up is not only recommended but will save you a lot of money in the long-run.
- Change air filters in your home once a month or as needed depending on the amount of dust you experience in your home. If you live around new construction you may find that you have to change air filters more often.
- Clean the dust away from your heating unit. Dust can accumulate on the burners, which often burn away the first time you turn the heat on (which can be alarming if you've never experienced this before). However, if the burners get too dirty, it can cause complications with the system igniting and burning properly. Simply take a vacuum up to your system and suck away the dust.
Heater Problem #2: The furnace won’t come on.
If your furnace isn't coming on, it's likely a problem with your igniter. The igniter is what heats the burner and gets your furnace working. So, if there is a problem with the igniter, your furnace obviously won’t be able to heat your home as it should.
We may sound like a broken record, but proper maintenance is critical. Without it, the area around the igniter can collect dust and debris making it harder to ignite, and much easier to burn out. Additionally, the age of your system and neglecting to properly maintain your system can wear down the components of your furnace, including the igniter. You may need a new igniter.
Either way, call Choice HVAC to schedule a maintenance check at least once per year to get ahead of this type of situation (ideally before it gets cold). While you can certainly clean the area around the igniter yourself, a professional will be able to check the entire system, including the components of your heater to make sure everything is running efficiently to heat your home.
Heater Problem #3: The thermostat isn't working.
In most cases, if your thermostat isn't working, then your system has no way of functioning. Your thermostat is the controlling device that operates your HVAC system and tells your furnace to turn on or off, and adjusts the temperature. Thermostats are connected to your system electronically through wires in the wall. While power surges can burn out some of these fuses and wires which will disable your thermostat, most thermostats stop working as a result of normal wear and tear.
If your thermostat no longer works, you can typically solve the problem by updating your thermostat to one that is more energy-efficient and programmable. This will also prevent your system from overworking which inevitably will prolong the life of your HVAC system.
Heater Problem #4: The heater isn't coming all the way on.
Beyond your thermostat, another vital part of your HVAC system is the control board. It essentially communicates information from your thermostat to your heater. If the control board is damaged or poorly maintained, your furnace will not turn on completely.
There are a few reasons as to why your control board may have gone bad. Power surges could be to blame, or just age and overuse (as was the case with your thermostat). OR, you could have a rodent problem, especially if the control board is located near the furnace.
Whatever the case, proper maintenance is the key to preventing this problem from continuing in your home, and avoiding major repairs. You can also add a surge protector to prevent damage to your control board. However, if there are any visible signs of rodent infestation (they tend to chew through low voltage wires which cause them to short out and burn the board), you'll want to have that taken care of immediately to avoid any further damage!
Ultimately, your best line of defense when it comes to maintaining your HVAC system and solving these most common heater problems is to contact a professional. While you can certainly replace an air filter, change out thermostat batteries and clean away dust from the furnace, we do not recommend homeowners to go much further. However, we do recommend that you get to know your system and how it works so you can better take care of it and prevent it from breaking down. As with any of your appliances and operating systems, the better you take care of it, the longer it'll last.
If you have any questions or need help servicing your HVAC system, call Choice HVAC in Garner and Wake Forest.