white radiator heater beside brown wooden window

(Photo by: Julian Hochgesang)

By Simeon Taylor

Winter is great for several reasons, Christmas gift-giving, hot chocolate, ice skating, and skiing are all activities one might partake in during the colder months of the year. Though these activities may be enjoyable in small doses, it is always nice to return to the warmth of your own home after some time outdoors. Sitting by the fireplace is a luxury that few homeowners can indulge in, so having a reliable furnace keeps most people and their families nice and toasty as the snow piles up. In older homes, the heating systems might not perform as well as they did in the past, and some systems might stop functioning altogether. Here is a quick checklist to ensure that your furnace is always running smoothly. Here is what to do to get you out of the cold and back into comfort. In case you cannot do anything with your appliance, it’s better to call a professional furnace repair service.

Main Parts of a Furnace

Before we get into the details of how to troubleshoot a furnace, we should first understand the difference between the parts of a heating system. Understanding these parts and what they do will give a clearer understanding of what to do when something goes wrong within your system. The first components of heating

systems are the thermostat and the gas valve, the thermostat records required temperatures and then sends signals that regulate how frequently the gas valve should open. The gas valve can be opened or closed through the gas shut-off valve. For higher temperatures in your home, this gas valve must be signaled more frequently to first heat up the home, then maintain this temperature. The next component is the burner/pilot light, when the gas valve is open the burner ignites the gas and provides the system with a flame. The thermocouple is the part that links the gas valve to the pilot light, when the pilot light is lit the thermocouple sends voltage to the gas valve to open. The next main components are the blower motor and blower motor capacitor. The capacitor starts the motor and often maintains the speed of the motor as well. The blower motor moves air into the ducts and then eventually into the home itself.

white thermostat at 62

(Photo by: Dan LeFebvre)

Most Common Furnace Problems

One of the most common issues homeowners face when it comes to their heating systems is the fact that older systems may not produce enough heat as they used to. Some examples of this are when your furnace may heat one room more than others, or all rooms are not being heated up relative to the heat setting applied to the thermostat. There are several reasons for why this happens, first it could be that there is a fan setting on your furnace which is cooling down the air before it is distributed around the home. The second reason is a little more obvious, but it happens from time to time, perhaps the thermostat is not set to heat, and this is a simple fix as it will just require you to change the settings and see what happens. The next possibility is that the air filtration systems are full of debris that prevents the heat from moving around the house evenly, this can be avoided by

replacing the air filtration regularly. If you have not changed the filtration in over a year or if it is visibly dirty it may be time for a change.

Another problem that may arise is that the furnace may not turn on automatically. Depending on the settings, furnaces should usually turn on and off to maintain the home temperature. There are several possibilities when this happens, one could be that the switch on the circuit breaker is off. If you had an electrician or someone in the home doing an inspection, they may switch this off and not turn it back on. Perhaps someone in the home flicked it off by mistake. This is an easy fix, just go to the breaker and try to switch it back on. The next possibility is that the thermostat is set too low, and therefore all you would have to do is double-check the setting to ensure that someone else in the home did not change it.

In older home systems, the sounds produced can become louder than they were initially. If this happens it is likely for one of these reasons. If the furnace is making a rattling noise, it may mean that one of the components is loose and simply needs to be tightened. If the sound is a high-pitched squeal it is likely the blower belt that has become frayed or loose ball bearings. If the furnace is making a louder airy noise than usual it could also be caused by the air filtration system, so as mentioned before double-check that there is no debris inside the system. If you notice a flickering or yellow pilot light, this could signal that there is an excess of carbon monoxide in your system.

While some of these problems can be handled at home through a simple inspection, its best to call a professional in to examine the issues so that you do not put yourself or your family members in danger. Stay safe and stay warm.

person holding white ceramic mug

(photo from Alex @worthyofelegance)