Identifying Common Problems With Forced Air Heating

If your home uses forced air heating, then consider yourself lucky. This type of heating system is reliable and long-lasting, and if properly maintained, it is not likely to cause too many major issues. Any problem with your home's heating system can be frustrating, however, so being able to identify and fix them early can help to save you from a major hassle in the future.

Knowing the Three Potential Trouble Points

There are three main points in your HVAC system that have the potential to cause trouble: the furnace, the thermostat, and the ductwork. Depending on the layout of your home and the number of heating zones that are present, you may have more than one thermostat present throughout the house. Each of these components represents a potential point of failure.

Although the details of any HVAC system can be fairly complicated, the basics are fairly straightforward. The thermostat is used to monitor the air temperature and determine whether the system should be running. Meanwhile, the furnace is used to actually heat the air and the ductwork distributes that air throughout the home.

Thermostat Issues

You can think of the thermostats in your house as automated on/off switches. Each thermostat measures the temperature of the air and compares it to the temperature set by the user. If the air is too cool, the thermostat instructs the furnace to turn on. If the air is already warm enough, the furnace is turned off. If your thermostat is failing, you may experience these issues:

  • The furnace may refuse to turn on at all
  • The furnace may rapidly cycle on and off, even if the temperature seems about right
  • Improperly placed thermostats may cause the furnace to run for too long or too short a period of time

Ductwork Issues

Properly installed and sized ducting should not usually cause any trouble, but there are a few issues to watch out for. If your home seems to have warm and cold spots, this could be the result of vents that are blocked by furniture or other obstructions. If the areas farthest from the furnace never seem to warm up, this could be an indication of a badly placed thermostat or it could be the result of a blower or ducting system that is not adequate to supply air to your entire home.

Furnace Issues

Issues with the furnace itself are the most serious and the costliest to repair, but they are also uncommon on furnaces that are relatively new. Unfortunately, problems with the furnace can often seem like problems elsewhere in the system. If your furnace is gas-powered, one obvious trouble sign to watch out for is the color of the flame itself. A yellow flame indicates unburnt gas, which can potentially mean that there is a problem with the burner. If this is the case, you may notice that the air in from your ducts is no longer as warm as it once was.

Other signs of impending failure include unusual noises from the furnace, or of course, if the furnace is refusing to ignite even when the thermostats have already been checked. In some cases, the problem may be a simple maintenance issue. Clogged filters can cause the furnace to overheat, which will trigger a protective mode that shuts the furnace down. If this isn't the case, then you will need a professional to evaluate your furnace and locate the root cause of the problem. For more information, contact HVAC repair professionals.