Winter is the time of year when furnaces are placed under the most pressure, which also makes it the time of year when those systems are most likely to develop problems. Considering the record low temperatures we’re currently experiencing across the country, you need to be especially vigilant for any signs that your furnace is having trouble this winter. Make sure that you familiarize yourself with the issues below, and the symptoms that indicate a need for furnace repairs.
One of the most dangerous problems that you may run across with your furnace is that of short cycling. Short cycling is when the furnace turns itself on and off every few minutes, without completing a full heating cycle. It can be caused by a number of issues, including a clogged air filter or malfunctioning air handler. The system overheats while operating, which causes the limit switch to activate and shut down the furnace to prevent it from becoming damaged. Prolonged periods of short cycling makes the system much more likely to break down, and can shorten its lifespan by a few years. Make sure that you call for repairs as soon as you notice your furnace doing this.
If your furnace is making a loud booming sound when it first starts up, then it might have an issue with delayed ignition. Delayed ignition often occurs due to carbon buildup on the jets in the burner assembly. As the carbon buildup becomes more severe, the jets begin to ignite later than they should each time the furnace starts. When the jet finally ignites, it burns through the excess gas all at once. That’s what generates that booming sound. Having a professional clean out your burner assembly for you should solve the problem. You should be careful to have it done as soon as you can, though. The worse the buildup gets, the less able the furnace will be to generate heat.
Clogged Air Filter
The air filter is a fiber mesh that sits in your furnace’s air return duct. It protects the system from dust and other debris commonly found in the ducts. However, it has no way to get rid of the contaminants that it captures. If the filter is not changed often enough, it will become clogged and prevent much of the air from entering the furnace. The good news is that this is a fairly easy problem to solve. Just replace your furnace filter once every three months or so, or have a professional take care of it for you.
Air Handler Problems
The air handler is the part of the furnace that actually circulates air while the system is on. If the air handler malfunctions, the system will not be able to blow air throughout the home during operation. If your furnace seems to be having trouble circulating any air at all, it might be because of the air handler. Call a professional technician to make sure.