Furnaces can last a fair few years, provided you take proper care of them. That means scheduling preventive maintenance at least once a year, but it also means calling for repairs as soon as you suspect that something is wrong with the system. Even seemingly minor issues can actually cause serious damage in some cases, so it’s never a good idea to ignore a problem once it presents itself. Let’s take a look at some of the more dire furnace issues, and how to identify them.
One of the most dangerous furnace problems is, ironically, caused by one of the most avoidable core issues: a clogged air filter. The air filter protects the furnace by straining dust and other contaminants out of the air before it flows into the system. The filter, like all air filters, has no way of actually disposing of these contaminants, though. So, if the filter isn’t replaced every few months, it has the potential to become clogged.
A clogged air filter will trap heat inside the furnace, causing the temperature inside the system to rise dramatically. Once the furnace has started to overheat, the limit switch will activate to shut it down. The system will cool off for a few minutes, and then restart in an attempt to complete its heating cycle. As long as the clogged air filter is in place, though, the system will continue to overheat and restart indefinitely.
Short cycling causes massive damage by ramping up the wear and tear that the furnace suffers in a very short amount of time. This will cause parts to wear out faster, break down more frequently, and will eventually shorten the life of the entire system by a significant amount. If you notice your furnace turning itself on and off every few minutes, call for repairs immediately.
Cracked Heat Exchanger
The heat exchanger is what allows the furnace to heat the air in the home, without also venting toxic combustion byproducts like carbon monoxide into circulation. It’s a kind of ductwork that extends up from the furnace and out of the top of the house. As the heat travels through the exchanger, it radiates into the air in the ducts. The toxic gases remain trapped in the heat exchanger, though, and are safely vented outside of the home.
The problem is that years of expanding and contracting from the heat can cause the heat exchanger to wear out over time. Eventually, cracks may begin to form in the exchanger, allowing the combustion byproducts to possibly vent into the ducts. Once a heat exchanger has cracked, it’s typically cheaper to replace the entire furnace than to try and replace that one part. The best way to catch this issue early is to make sure that you have a professional check the heat exchanger at least once a year.
Carney Plumbing Heating & Cooling offers a full range of furnace repair services throughout New Hope, PA. If you need furnace repair or replacement services, contact us today to schedule an appointment with one of our technicians.