Troubleshooting Common Furnace Problems

Is your furnace not heating correctly or not working at all? Not all furnace issues require major repairs – sometimes it is just a small issue that you can fix yourself. Here are some troubleshooting tips to determine what is causing the problem and whether you need to call a professional.

Check the Air Filter

A clogged air filter can cause all types of problems. Air filters should be changed about every 30 days. Make sure your filter is not clogged and change if needed. Turn off furnace first, then check or change the filter. Also, make sure the furnace panel is completely closed – some models will not turn on if the panel is not tightly closed.

Check the Thermostat

Make sure your thermostat has good batteries and try setting the temperature higher to turn the furnace on. You can also open the cover and carefully dust the components to ensure the connections are clean.

Check the Vents

Are all your vents clear and open? Make sure rugs, furniture or other items are not blocking vents and stopping the air flow in the home.

Check the Pilot Light

If you have a gas furnace, your pilot light should be a blue flame. If is red, purple or orange, call your HVAC professional right away. If the pilot light is out, it will need to be relit. Turn off the gas for 10-15 minutes before you re-light the pilot using the manufacturer instructions.

Check the Electric Panel

If you have an electric furnace or your furnace requires electricity, check the electric panel for blown or flipped fuses.

If you check all these issues and your furnace still is having problems, it is time to call the HVAC professionals for a furnace repair or replacement.

Posted on behalf of:
ClimateSmith, LLC
3870 Peachtree Industrial Blvd. Suite 340-129
Duluth, GA 30096
(770) 475-9555

Choosing an Energy Efficient Furnace

If you heat with fossil fuels such as heating oil, natural gas, or propane and the furnace in your home is more than 15 years old, it may make sense to replace it with a new energy efficient furnace even if your old furnace is still in good working order.  As an initial matter, most older systems were only designed to have a 15 to 20 year service life so even if your system is working today, it is likely to start needing expensive furnace repairs soon.

More importantly, older furnaces are far less energy efficient than modern furnaces.  Just like a fuel efficient car can save you money on gasoline, an energy efficient furnace can save you money on energy costs for heating oil, natural gas or propane while keeping your home warm and comfortable.  In addition, by burning fewer fossil fuels you will be reducing greenhouse gas emissions and other environmental harms.

Older gas and oil fired furnaces are typically only 50 percent to 65 percent efficient.  That means that they convert about 50 percent to 65 percent of the fuel to home heating.  The rest goes out the exhaust.  Modern furnaces are at least 78 percent efficient.  Conventional furnaces are typically 80 percent to 85 percent efficient and high efficiency furnaces can range from 90 to 97 percent efficient.

Higher efficiency means that furnace uses less energy to create the same amount of heat.  Over the life of the furnace, these energy savings can add up to thousands of dollars which offsets the cost of the new furnace.

Your local HVAC contractor can help you choose and install a new energy efficient furnace in your home.

Replace Heat Exchanger or Install New Furnace?

If your furnace has a cracked heat exchanger, you have two options:  you can either replace the heat exchanger or install a new furnace.  Doing nothing and continuing to use your existing furnace is not a safe option.

A cracked heat exchanger is dangerous.  It can leak deadly carbon monoxide into your home and cause you and your family to suffer from carbon monoxide poison.  Every year, thousands of Americans are hospitalized for carbon monoxide poisoning and about 400 people are killed every year by this deadly gas.

Replacing the heat exchanger is a relatively expensive furnace repair, but it is less expensive than installing a new furnace.  While this might seem like the obvious choice, there is more to consider than just the cost of the repair.  Installing a new furnace might cost more up front, but it could save you money in the long run.

Most cracked heat exchangers are found in older furnaces.  Furnaces that are more than 15 years old are much less efficient than modern furnaces.  Older gas furnaces are often only 55 percent to 65 percent efficient.  The minimum efficiency rating for a new gas furnace is 78 percent and can be as high as 97 percent.

Higher efficiency means lower heating costs and these savings can add up.  You could save hundreds or even thousands of dollars over the life of your new furnace.  These savings would more than cover the cost difference between replacing the heat exchanger and installing a new furnace.

Your HVAC contractor can help you decide whether replacing the heat exchanger or installing a new energy efficient furnace is the right choice for you.