When a furnace stops heating a home, many homeowners hope for the best. “I think the thermostat is broken,” they may say, hoping a quick calibration or rewiring will do the trick. Others jump to the worst-case scenario: “I think it may need to be replaced.”
These are both things that can and do happen. However, it’s often not what the homeowner expects. In fact, some of the things that cause a furnace to break down or function incorrectly may surprise you! Here are four things you may not realize could cause failures with your heating system.
Electronic Ignition Failure
If you have a gas furnace, you might be surprised to hear your electronic ignition switch has failed. Yes, your furnace operates by burning fuel. But the way ignition begins in modern furnaces is with electricity. A hot surface ignition switch may be used to heat the fuel, or else a direct spark.
Electronic ignition switches are safer and more efficient than the standing gas pilots of old (although your outdated furnace may still use a standing pilot light). However, an electronic ignition switch or its components may need replacement at some point in the lifespan of your system. Luckily, this is not an extremely costly repair.
A Dirty Air Filter
That’s right! A coating of dirt may be the reason your heating system performance is suffering. How can this be? Well, the filter is meant to protect your furnace from damage. However, when it is clogged up with dirt and debris, air cannot flow past the heat exchanger and through to your vents as it is supposed to.
This lack of airflow does more than leave you less comfortable. It also puts strain on your blower fan and motor and may force the furnace to overheat! Your energy bills may go up as well, so it’s worth changing the filter every 1-3 months.
Dirt Elsewhere in the System
In some cases, a system can suddenly stop working altogether—and all because of a bit of dust buildup! The thermocouple (in older standing gas furnaces) or flame sensor is the component that shuts off the gas valve in case of emergency—if the sensor does not detect any flame. Dirt on the sensor, though may cause the gas valve to shut without need.
Another way dirt and debris can harm your heating system is in the blower fan. The air filter should help prevent debris from getting into the blower motor. If dust and debris does get through, though, it could become lodged in the fan and jam the motor.
Broken Safety Switches
There are various safety switches within your furnace that protect you from gas leaks, fire hazards, and carbon monoxide leaks. These typically shut off the whole furnace or its components whenever your home may be at risk.
When you hear that a safety switch was at fault for your malfunctioning system, you may be alarmed to hear it, and worry that your family is unsafe with this furnace. However, usually, a safety switch shuts off the system only because it is malfunctioning and needs to be replaced. It’s not too big of a deal, but only if you call a qualified technician to repair the part!
Schedule your next furnace repair in Livingston, NJ with the qualified contractors at MarGo Plumbing Heating Cooling Inc.