There may be this idea that furnaces only develop problems sometime between September and November. The truth is that that often the problem is already there. However, after standing idle during the Summer months, when the furnace reignites, so do the problems with it. When Fall arrives, it may seem to be Christmas come early for the furnace repair companies, but, most furnace breakdowns are preventable.
There are some problems that you can fix yourself, but don’t assume the moment that you have resolved a problem that there wasn’t a second underlying problem as well. So, try a few of the obvious checks first:
- Check the air filter. If once the furnace has been turned on, it fails to blow air for very long, the probability that the air filter is clogged will be high. Dust build up reduces the flow of air through the system and often is the cause for the furnace shutting off. Ask the supplier or the main local servicing business which air filters are the correct ones for your model of furnace. Should this turn out to be the problem, it would be advisable to book a non-emergency cleaning and safety check, so that any soot in the heat exchanger can be removed.
- Check the thermostat. One of the most frequent reasons that the furnace appears not to be working is because changes were made to the thermostat when the Spring or Summer arrived. And it was forgotten about. Programmable thermostats are where this is most likely to occur. If the program was changed at the turn of the seasons, all you really must do is change it back, or reprogram it according to your needs. Verify that the thermostat is set to heat, rather showing off or air.
- Check the circuit breaker. It may seem like a no brainer but a lot of people fail to check this when their furnace won’t fire up after a long summer. It’s possible that the circuit breaker was turned off turning the summer when someone thought they were turning a light on or off. This simple check could save you the cost of a call out fee.
The above three issues can be easily resolved by a little headwork and some DIY. There are times, however, when it becomes a good idea to call in the professionals.
- The ignition. You won’t find a pilot light in a modern furnace. An intermittent pilot light or hot surface ignition is usually the ignition methods found in furnaces that are installed today. Because they don’t burn a small amount of gas consistently they are far more efficient. The most common form of ignition is the hot surface igniter. This works in a similar way to the filament in a light bulb. As the thermostat senses, a drop in temperature the filament heats up. In the same way that a light bulb won’t last forever neither does the filament on an igniter. Once this is worn you will need a technician to repair the problem.
- Burner needs adjustment. There are times when despite the ignition being in fine fettle, the furnace simply won’t light up. This sometimes happens when the burner is dirty. When the burner is dirty efficiency drops and can do so dramatically until the problem is addressed. To establish that this is, in fact, the problem the furnace will need to be opened and examined by a professional. Gas appliances present a huge risk for gas leaks and carbon monoxide poisoning. If you have had the foresight to take out a maintenance plan this kind of repair will be covered.
- Belt and blower failure. When you can hear a loud high-pitched noise coming from your furnace, you may discover that you have a problem with your blower and the belts. Sometimes this can be easily resolved by some simple lubrication. If the belt is worn it will require replacement. Both circumstances will require a qualified technician to take a look and undertake the repair.
- Lack of maintenance. The single greatest reasons why the annual rush to repair furnace failure has become a clockwork occurrence is because of the lack of maintenance. When annual furnace inspections are scheduled during the year, most problems can be avoided. If you decide to have it done in the late Summer while it’s still warm, you are less likely to have to wait to get it done. There are also plenty of gas maintenance contracts out there, that includes an annual check helping you to keep your furnace functional. This keeps those nasty cold day surprises away.
Pricing your repairs will depend on where you live. The cost of bringing parts in and the distance the contractor must travel will influence the price. Smaller repairs cost around the $100 mark, but beware serious problems can cost as much as $900!
Learn more and check out a detailed guide on how much a furnace repair costs.