It would be hard to imagine the cold winter days without a furnace to warm you. It doesn’t matter how many layers of clothing you have on. The frigid cold seems to find its way to every part of your body. A furnace provides an effective heating solution for the home.
Newer technologies have availed energy-efficient and affordable options. True, one may argue that the initial cost of installing a furnace is pretty high. On average, expect to spend anywhere from $2000 to $7,000. The price can go as high as $40,000, depending on the type you choose.
An electric furnace is the most affordable, while geothermal is the most expensive. Yet, whatever amount of money you spend on the initial cost is not comparable to the service you will get.
The longevity of the furnace will depend on how well you maintain it. Regular inspections, parts replacements, and cleaning are essential. You don’t even have to spend too much on maintenance by teaching yourself simple furnace troubleshooting tips.
But, like any other technological innovation, there comes a time when you may need to replace it. Learn to read the signs that your furnace will give in soon. We will share the most common ones in our article below.
1. Furnace Troubleshooting No Longer Works
As a furnace owner, it is vital to learn some troubleshooting tips. What do you, for example, do when the furnace won’t kick on?
Before you reach for your phone to call the experts, there are some simple things you can do. These include:-
- Checking for dirt build-up on the ignition sensor and furnace filter
- Inspecting the elements when the furnace won’t stay lit
- Adjusting the thermostat settings when the furnace turns on but no heat
- Ensure gas supply as a critical gas furnace troubleshooting tip and much more.
Over time, you may spend more time troubleshooting than you should. You could also have a revolving door of HVAC contractors, Nashville coming in to check the appliance. Indeed, this is an obvious sign that the unit needs replacing.
Look at the money you are spending on parts and services over a specific period. If there is a significant increase, it would be a good idea to let the furnace retire in peace. One day it may break down on the coldest of winter nights. We are sure that is not something you would ever want to deal with.
2. The Age of the Furnace Matters
A cursory internet search on the average lifespan of a furnace will give you varying results. But, on average, you can place it anywhere between 15 to 18 years. As we stated above, maintaining the furnace will significantly influence how long it continues to serve you.
But there is one thing you will realize pretty quickly. The older the furnace gets, the more it will demand in terms of maintenance. You could spend quite a bit of money on parts replacements and the attendant service costs. Over time it will be cheaper to replace the whole unit.
Now, what happens if you bought a house that already has a furnace in it? The former owners may not be very clear about when they put in the unit. You can get the information from the label on the furnace.
But, this may only apply to the newer model. For the older ones, check the manual if it still exists. The service tag should give you the information you need. Professional furnace companies ensure they provide service reports after each visit.
If all the above are not available, look for the serial number. It could be on some components, such as the access panels. The serial number makes it easy to search online for the manufacture date.
3. Trouble Accessing Spare Parts
This point ties in closely with the point above. You may find it difficult to get spare parts for some older, outdated models. It can be a significant problem if the furnace needs repairing.
You could also end up spending a lot on the furnace parts. Some sellers may also place higher pricing on the elements due to the scarcity factor. As the need for repairs increases with age, so will the cost of owning the unit.
4. Increasing Furnace Inefficiency
The furnace has the job of keeping the house warm. But, over time, you start to notice the furnace turns on, but no heat. In some instances, the heating is not consistent, even if it does come on. Some rooms heat up well, while others don’t. You have to keep adjusting the thermostat, hoping for proper heat distribution.
There are some furnace troubleshooting ideas you can try. The first would be to check the thermometer setting. You may have left it on hold or in vacation mode and forgot to turn it back on.
You can also try cleaning the ignition sensor. If the sensor cannot ‘read’ the ambient temperature and respond appropriately, the heater will not be able to work. Indeed you can go through a whole range of troubleshooting steps.
Another sign of a problem with the heater is moisture build-up on surfaces. That could indicate that the airflow within the home is insufficient.
The same applies to excessive dust within the home. You see, other than keeping the house warm, the furnace also cleans the air. That is why one of the routine tasks you must keep up with is changing the air filters. If you don’t, the dirt build-up could end up causing irreparable damage to the furnace’s internal components.
But, sometimes, whatever you do may only work for a short time. Before long, you will be back to fighting the chill with warm layers of clothing. We hate to say this but start budgeting for a new furnace at this point.
5. Higher Than Normal Energy Bills
If you noticed a spike in your energy bills during the cold days, it could be due to the furnace. The experts look for whether the air ducts are properly sealed. Dirty components such as the air filter could be another issue.
The build-up restricts airflow making the furnace work much harder to warm the rooms. If those are not the issues, it could be something more significant. The aging of some internal parts can result in more energy use.
The advantage to the more modern furnaces is the focus on fuel efficiency. You will come across the acronym AFUE, which stands for Annual Fuel Utilization Efficiency. AFUE is a metric for measuring the percentage of fuel used by the furnace. Think about it like a dollar translation of the amount of heat you get for every amount that goes to fuel.
6. Too Much Noise and Smells Emanating From the Furnace
If your furnace starts to sound like an old car on its last legs, it probably is. The furnace sounds should not be strange or unnecessarily loud. Any popping, rattling, or banging sounds are worth taking note of.
When turning on the heater, you may notice a musty smell. That is not uncommon if you haven’t used it for a long time. The problem comes in when the smell lingers even after using the furnace for some time.
Please take time to put your senses to good use around the furnace. The ears will tell you of any strange sounds. The nose will alert you to any weird lingering smells.
The eyes allow for a visual inspection of signs of corrosion or cracks. It can give you sufficient time to use the furnace troubleshooting tips we have shared. It could also allow you to call in the experts at the right time.
7. Abnormal Operational Pattern
The furnace has a cycle that determines how it operates. The first thing you do is set the thermostat to a suitable temperature. The sensors in the furnace read the ambient temperature. It kicks in if it is below what you had set in the thermostat.
The heater will warm the room until the temperature reaches the target point. At this point, it goes off and will come back on when the temperatures dip below the target. It is a very cyclical flow in operation.
A furnace that is no longer operating at optimal levels will show abnormal patterns in the cycle. There could be an increase or decrease in the ON and OFF frequency. In other instances, there may be a continuous operation. That means the furnace is always running. The professionals may recommend a total unit replacement if this happens.
We can all agree that a home without a furnace would be very uncomfortable during cold days. Yet, there is another aspect to consider. Faulty parts in critical components could be a health risk. Carbon monoxide poisoning can arise due to cracks in parts like the heat exchanger.
Long-term exposure could result in fatalities. Of course, there is also the risk of fires or explosions due to the gas leaks. Please take time to go through the points we have shared above. If you notice any of them in your furnace, it may be time to say goodbye to the current one. Also, don’t be afraid to seek the services of HVAC contractors, in Nashville when you need to.