Furnace Repair

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It’s a good idea to make sure your furnace is in working order long before you turn it on for winter because you don’t want to be left without heat while you get it repaired or replaced. Your furnace works in overdrive during the winter, and that means any underlying problems will quickly pop up right when you least need them. Like right before the clock strikes midnight on New Year’s Eve with your house is full of party guests!

COMMON FURNACE REPAIR QUESTIONS

GAS ON?
Make sure your gas is on. You can check the valve at the meter and if that is working, check the shut-off valve on your furnace.

IS THE THERMOSTAT ON?
It might seem like an obvious thing to check, but a lot of people don’t think to look at their thermostat. Make sure it’s set to heat and not stuck.

GOT POWER?
Your furnace has an on-off switch, and there is a chance it might have gotten shut off. Check to see that it’s in the on position.

LIGHT THAT PILOT
The pilot light might have gone out and if that’s the case, just relight it.

TRIP A CIRCUIT?
Circuit breakers can easily trip during the holiday season with all the lights and decorations. Check the circuit breaker and if the one labeled furnace tripped, turn it off and then turn it back on.

HOW ABOUT A RESET?
Try resetting your furnace to see if that helps. Press the reset button and see if it turns on. If it doesn’t, wait thirty minutes and then try again. If it still doesn’t turn on, then you might need a professional.

NOTHING WORKING?
If none of these tips helps your furnace work correctly, then it’s time to call an HVAC professional.

COMMON FURNACE & HEATER CHANGES TO BE AWARE OF

My furnace louder than usual
Your furnace naturally has a low hum when it’s on, so if that’s what you hear, then there isn’t a problem. Start paying attention if you hear your furnace getting louder than usual. That sound could mean you have a belt or that is cracked or partially broken and could give out soon. If you hear a whining noise, you should get the ignition checked.

I keep turning up the heater, but it doesn’t seem to keep up
Sure, if it’s 20 below freezing outside, you might bump your thermostat up a few notches. But if you notice that you need to keep bumping your thermostat up just to stay comfortable, you might have a problem. There could be a leak in your ducts, or you might have a faulty thermostat.

The heater seems to just come off and then right back on
If your furnace starts to turn off and on quickly, there could be a problem with the thermostat, wiring, or ignition.

My heating bill is more than normal
If your heating bill skyrockets, that’s a clear sign of a problem especially if there hasn’t been a bump in rates. But there could also be a problem if you notice your bill steadily increasing. Make sure to get it checked out soon.

WHAT FUEL DO I USE?

GAS
This is usually the cheapest and most efficient way to heat your house, especially if you already have natural gas lines. Natural gas is often best in areas that frequently dip below freezing.

OIL OR PROPANE
If you don’t have gas lines, you could use oil or propane. You do need more space for this option because it requires more storage. Oil and propane are also dirtier than natural gas and could be more expensive based on volatile oil prices.

ELECTRICITY
This option is typically more expensive but if you do need to use electricity, choose one with a heat pump. Heat pumps will transfer heat from the inside to the outside and the other way around based on the season. These systems use less electricity and therefore cost less.

OUT WITH THE OLD AND IN WITH THE NEW

Maybe you still have the original furnace in your 35-year old house, and no amount of repairs will get it running again. It’s time to shop for a new furnace, and while there are a lot of options, there are a few things you should consider before you find the right unit for your home.

What should you look for?

CHECK EFFICIENCY
You want to get the most efficient unit you can afford. An efficient furnace will save you money in the long run because it will adequately heat your house. Furnaces are measured in the Annual Fuel Utilization Efficiency (AFUE). The Department of Energy suggests finding a unit that runs about 90 percent AFUE.

SPLIT DECISION
You can get a system that is split or packaged. Homeowners that have a lot of room might want a split unit that has an indoor unit and an outdoor condenser. But if you don’t have a lot of room, consider a packaged unit that has everything in one outside spot.

HEAT YOUR ZONES
Many homes have uneven heating, and that can cause efficiency problems and cost you money. Think about getting a furnace with zone heating. This system divides your house into different zones and gives each zone its own thermostat. Zone heating also comes with dampers in the ducts that can direct heat to the right spots.

ALL THE VARIABLES
You can choose from a variable speed and fixed speed furnace blower. Variable speed blowers are ideal for homeowners that want to have a consistent temperature throughout their house. You can change the speed to meet your needs unlike fixed which keeps the blower steady.

SIZE MATTERS
Once you hire a contractor to get a new furnace, they should do a Manual J load calculation to decide which system will work for your house. This calculation is measured in BTUs or tons and will take your whole home into account to get you the right system. Be wary of any contractor that gives you a quote without coming to your house. They need to be on site to measure square footage and check window efficiency to provide you the most accurate estimate.

ALL YOUR BURNING QUESTIONS

WHEN I TURN ON MY FURNACE FOR THE FIRST TIME, IT ALWAYS SMELLS A LITTLE FUNNY. WHY?
During the summer months when your furnace is off, dust and dirt can collect inside the air ducts. When you turn it on for the first time, that dust and dirt burn off and produces that funny smell. It will go away within a few hours and isn’t something that should worry you.

CAN I MAKE MY FURNACE MORE EFFICIENT BY CLOSING VENTS IN UNINHABITED ROOMS?
This tip is one of the most common ones when it comes to furnaces. It makes sense too if you aren’t using a room closing the vents will help direct the air to more used areas. Unfortunately, that isn’t how it works. Air still tries to push through those vents and can cause leaks in improperly sealed ducts.
Newer models work to heat your home based on the square footage efficiently. If you close vents that create a blockage and can cause your system to work in overdrive and burn out faster.

DO I NEED TO GET MY FURNACE INSPECTED?
Yes! Inspections are the easiest way to find and stop problems before they become costlier. Many HVAC experts suggest getting your system inspected twice a year, every six months, once for heating and once for cooling.
Most problems that occur are because the furnace hasn’t been properly maintained. Inspections prolong the life of your system and save you money. Also, inspections will also check for carbon monoxide leaks.

WHAT ABOUT JUST ONE ROOM NEEDS HEAT? SPACE HEATERS?

Maybe you don’t need a new furnace, but some rooms in your house are always colder than others. A space heater is an easy way to warm up without replacing your entire furnace. Here are a few options.

FOR BIGGER ROOMS

You can use Mr. Heater’s 30,000 BTU Vent Free Blue Flame Natural Gas Heater, MHVFGH30NGT to warm rooms up to 750 square feet. It’s a gas-powered heater, and the MSRP is $239.99.

FOR MEDIUM ROOMS

The Vornado VH10Whole Room Vortex Heater is an excellent option because it can warm up your room nicely yet still stay cool to the touch. It’s also quiet, which is nice, but the MSRP of $89.99 is great.

FOR SMALL ROOMS

Don’t count out the tiny but mighty Lasko 754200 ceramic heater. It is only three pounds but incredibly efficient, and at MSRP of $25, it’s ahead of the competition.