Since the colder weather is approaching, this is the perfect time to discuss furnaces, the common repair problems we see, and why these repairs are important for your home. Many people take their heaters for granted. We tell ourselves, “If we want heat, we just have to push a little button on the thermostat and voila!” Simple, right? The truth is your heating system is a complex beast that has an intricate set-up, usually including a furnace, a pilot, a functioning duct system, and more. If one small piece of the equation breaks down, you’re going to be left shivering in your home. During peak heating systems (i.e. winter), it can be difficult to get an HVAC expert to come out and look at your broken heater/furnace. Oftentimes it will be days before they can come out, since their schedule is already packed with other repair and maintenance appointments. That is why it is crucial to have routine inspections done every year before the cold weather really starts to kick in. By planning inspections ahead of the cold weather, you can usually ensure that your system will function well throughout fall and winter. Here are three common repair problems that we see when we’re called out to fix heating systems and the furnace ends up being the culprit.
- DIRTY FLAME SENSORS – Flame sensors are usually found on older systems, and are often the problem child when your furnace isn’t working. These flame sensors sit in front of one of the flames that are blowing into your heat exchanger. Eventually, these sensors will end up with carbon build-up or dirt build-up. When this happens, your pilot will not stay lit. Have this sensor checked every year before the cold weather comes to make sure there isn’t any build-up that can cause you unnecessary grief.
- BROKEN HOT SURFACE IGNITER – Newer systems will make use of something called a ‘hot surface igniter’, which replaces the old pilot system. When you turn the heat on via your thermostat, the thermostat tells the ‘hot surface igniter’ to start heating up. Eventually this igniter will get so hot that it ignites the gas. While they take a lot manual labor and inconsistency out of your heating system by replacing pilots that can go out or break, hot surface igniters can be a bit of a pain if they break. It isn’t as simple as re-lighting the pilot. Instead, if your igniter is broken, you’re left in the cold, and must call an HVAC expert to get it fixed.
- CRACKED HEAT EXCHANGERS – This is one of the more dangerous problems you can have with your heating system. If you have a cracked heat exchanger, that means carbon monoxide is leaking into your duct system and ultimately your home, instead of being blown outside. While repair is an option, it’s often more costly than replacing the furnace itself. Make sure this is checked during your pre-season inspection, since this can be a major health concern for your family. You don’t want to breathing in carbon monoxide!