furnace maintenance

How to Fix a Noisy Furnace

noisyWhen your furnace is working properly, you can almost forget it’s there. It just quietly does its job of keeping you warm when it is cold outside. A noisy furnace is not only aggravating, it can be a sign of a significant problem.  

If your furnace is making any loud or unusual sounds, it is important to figure out the cause as soon as possible. Continuing to use a faulty furnace could cause major damage that could require extensive and expensive repairs. Be sure to turn off the power and gas to your furnace until you can isolate the source of the noise, and call a local heating professional for help.

Identifying the Cause of a Noisy Furnace

The noises coming from your furnace can help you pinpoint the problem. You may need to describe the sounds your noisy furnace is making to the repair technician so he or she can properly diagnose the problem.

Scraping or Grinding

If you hear the sound of metal moving against metal, it is most commonly caused by one of two issues.

  1. A loose blower wheel. The blower wheel is attached to the blower motor shaft by a screw. Occasionally, a blower wheel will work itself loose and rub against the blower housing. The result is a metallic grinding or scraping sound. If left unchecked, a loose blower wheel can cause damage to the housing.
  2. A broken motor mount. A broken motor mount will cause the blower wheel to make contact with the housing. It could sound like metallic rattling or scraping.

Thumping or Vibrating

Excessive thumping or vibrating is caused by a blower wheel that is out of balance. When the blower wheel is off balance, it can cause the motor to run out of balance as well. Left unfixed, this problem can quickly escalate and cause more damage to the internal mechanisms of your furnace.

Squealing or Screeching

A high-pitched squealing sound is usually caused by insufficient lubrication, although it can also be caused by a loose fan belt. The noise can usually be remedied by either tightening the belt or applying oil. Make sure to contact a professional for expert help with these small jobs.

Banging or Popping

Loud banging or popping when the furnace starts or stops is caused by the metal ducts flexing. This could be a sign that you have a clogged filter or closed vents. Try changing your air filter and checking to make sure your vents are open and unobstructed before contacting a repair technician. If the noise continues, it could be sign that you have undersized ducts.

Rumbling.

If you furnace makes a constant low rumbling noise, it could be a sign that you have a bad burner. If you hear a low rumbling when your furnace is running, turn off your unit and contact a professional for help.

Fixing a Noisy Furnace

If you are experiencing rackety noises from your furnace, it is best to contact a professional to rule out any major or potentially dangerous problems. Attempting to repair your furnace yourself could cause more damage and even lead to accidental injury.

However, there are a few simple repairs that any homeowner can tackle on their own.

Replace Your Filter.

Replacing an old filter with a new one is one of the simplest cures to minor furnace noise. Here are some basic step-by-step directions for replacing your furnace filter.

  1. Select an appropriate filter. There are several filter options available. Low-quality filters need to be replaced more frequently, so it may be worth the extra money to invest in a high-quality filter. If you are unsure which filter to use in your furnace, contact your owner’s manual for dimensions and guidelines.
  2. Switch off your furnace. Before you begin the process of replacing your furnace’s filter, be sure to turn off your unit to prevent any accidents.
  3. Open the furnace access panel. The access panel is usually located on the side of the furnace near the bottom of the unit.
  4. Remove the old filter.
  5. Position the new filter. After the old filter has been removed, it should be easy to slide the new on into position. Be sure to carefully follow the airflow arrows marked on your filter.
  6. Replace the access panel.
  7. Turn on your furnace.

 

If your furnace continues to make excessive noise after you have replaced the filter, it is time to call in the professionals. More serious repairs require mechanical know-how and experience. A certified HVAC technician can help you diagnose and fix a noisy furnace so you can rest in peace, quiet, and comfort.

 

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Troubleshooting Guide for a Short-Cycling Furnace

routine hvac maintenanceWhen your furnace is functioning properly, it will regularly cycle on and off to maintain a comfortable indoor air temperature. As the temperature drops below the setting on the thermostat, the furnace will come on and produce heat. When the desired temperature is reached, the thermostat will cause the furnace to shut off. This cycle repeats many times throughout the course of a day, as your furnace works to keep everyone in your home comfortable.

What is Short-Cycling?

Short-cycling occurs when the furnace turns on and off repeatedly in a short period of time. The system may turn on for a few seconds, or even a few minutes, and then shut off again.

This rapid cycling is generally ineffective at sustaining a satisfying temperature. It can also be expensive as the rapid cycling uses more energy. Short-cycling can also reduce the lifespan of your heating system, putting undue stress on the starter and other internal components.

A properly-sized furnace turn on and off anywhere from three to eight times in an hour. The number of times your furnace cycles on will depend on the outside temperature, if your home is well-insulated, as well as other factors.

In extremely cold weather, a properly functioning furnace will typically run for several minutes before shutting off. If your furnace only runs for less than a minute or two, it could mean your system is “short-cycling.”

What Causes a Short-Cycling Furnace?

There are several things that will cause a furnace to short-cycle. This can be a potentially serious problem, so isolating the cause quickly is the first step to resolving it. Some potential causes include:

  • Inadequate airflow. Dirty air filters or blocked air vents can restrict indoor airflow and cause your thermostat to register temperatures incorrectly. Replace air filters regularly and check to make sure your air vents are not restricted by drapes, furniture, or clutter.
  • Improper thermostat location. Thermostats are easily affected by drafts from windows and doors, as well as the cooler temperature of an exterior wall. Be sure your thermostat is mounted on an interior wall in a regularly used room.
  • The heating unit is the wrong size. If your heating unit is too large for the space being heated, it can cause the furnace to cycle on and off continuously. A qualified heating technician will help you calculate the proper unit specifications for your home.
  • A damaged furnace. If a furnace overheats, a safety switch will automatically cause it to shut off as a preventive measure. However, the thermostat will cause the unit to turn back on in an attempt to maintain the temperature inside your home. Then the cycle repeats itself. A crack in the heating exchange or dirty coils will cause a unit to overheat. These problems require attention from a qualified technician.

The Importance of Regular Maintenance

As your furnace heats your home, it causes regular wear on the unit’s internal mechanisms. Regular maintenance will help reduce the wear and tear on internal parts and ensure your unit runs safely and efficiently. Scheduling an annual check-up with a local HVAC professional will help prevent potential problems. Ultimately, regular maintenance will save you money on your energy bills and prevent expensive repairs before they occur.

During a regular maintenance visit, a qualified technician will inspect your unit for cracks, corrosion, leaks, or other potential problems. Regular professional maintenance will prevent a short-cycling furnace and optimize your system for the cold winter months.

 

 

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Large and Small Ways to Control your Heating Bill

save moneyAs we hunker down and brace ourselves for the coldest months of the year, conscientious homeowners are probably thinking about how they can reduce their heating bill. The cost of keeping your home cozy and warm can be an expensive endeavor. Thankfully, there are plenty of ways, both large and small, that you can trim some of that expense without sacrificing comfort.

Whether you need a few simple and easy ways to reduce your heating bill or if you want to pull out all the stops and make big changes, you will find something helpful in the action steps listed below.

Baby Steps to Reducing Your Heating Bill

Even if you don’t have the time or money to make big changes to heating system, there are still small changes that will save you money.

  1. Turn down your thermostat setting. This is the easiest and fastest way to start saving money on your heating expenses. By turning your thermostat down just a few degrees, you can save big on your next bill. As a general rule of thumb, for every degree you turn down your thermostat (and leave it there) you save between 1 and 3 percent of your heating bill.

    So throw on a nice warm sweater if you have to, but turn down that thermostat to start saving money.

  2. Use the warmth of the sun. Only a fool would turn down free heat. If you have windows that face the midday sun, open up the blinds and let in the natural warmth of the sun.

  3. Don’t be afraid to use a space heater. Space heaters are designed to heat small spaces. While space heaters have a reputation for being expensive to run, used correctly they can save you money on your heating bill. If you know that you will be in one area of your home, you can add some extra heat to that area with a space heater. Meanwhile, go ahead and turn down the thermostat a few degrees. Unoccupied areas of your home may be cooler, but the room you are in will still be warm and cozy.

    Using a space heater occasionally will keep you from having to maintain a comfortable temperature in the entire home when it isn’t necessary.

  4. Use an electric blanket. By using an energy efficient electric blanket, you will feel more comfortable sleeping at a cooler temperature setting. You may even decide to use the blanket to warm your bed by turning it on 15 minutes before bedtime. Then you can turn it off and still feel warm and comfortable as you fall asleep without raising your electric bill.

Larger Steps to Reduce Your Heating Bill

  1. Seal your home’s drafts. You can easily places where cold winter air enters your home by using a handheld draft detector. If you don’t have access to one of these handy devices, you can use your hand or even a candle.

    Once you’ve located any draft sources, take steps to seal them. Use caulk on leaky windows and weather stripping on gaps around doors.

  2. Get a tune-up for your furnace. Regular cleaning and equipment adjustments can make a huge difference in how your heating system runs. By scheduling a regular annual furnace tune-up, your heating system will run more efficiently. This is also the best way to catch potential problems before they turn into expensive repairs.

  3. Replace your attic insulation. Think of your attic insulation as a cozy blanket that helps hole warmth inside your home. Quality attic insulation is your home’s best defense against unnecessary heat loss.

    Over time, insulation breaks down and compresses, causing a loss in insulation volume. If your insulation is older than 10 years old, it may be time for replacement. If your attic insulation has settled and measures less than 12 inches thick, it is time replace or add to the existing insulation.

  4. Order a home energy audit. A home energy audit is an extensive test that produces a detailed report. Using the latest technology, a home heating professional will search for air leaks as well as any other sources of inefficiency and help you determine steps to maximize your home’s energy efficiency.

  5. Upgrade your heating system. If your furnace is more than 10 years old, it may be time to consider replacement. A newer system is probably the best way to achieve big savings on your heating bill. Be sure to talk to an HVAC professional about which options will work best for you.

 

Winter heating bills don’t have to be frightening. Whether you want to make big changes or take small actions, there are ways you can control your heating bill. If you have questions or need help implementing any of these strategies, contact your local HVAC expert for more information.

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Essential Heating System Maintenance Checklist

checklistAs cold winter weather sweeps across the country, heating systems are turning on in droves. Your heating system works hard to keep your home warm and comfortable when outdoor temperatures become chilly. However, there are some simple steps you can take to make your system’s job a little easier.

Steps to Keep Your Heating System Running

Basic maintenance tasks are crucial to ensuring your heating system in peak condition and your home cozy until temperatures begin to rise in the spring. This heating system maintenance checklist covers all the maintenance jobs you should do now and throughout the cold season to keep your furnace or heat pump in tip top condition.

Change Your Filters.

A fresh filter will ensure your system is receiving adequate airflow. Changing your filter regularly will help your system remove airborne particles that can clog up air ducts and your system’s mechanical components. A clean furnace filter also helps your system function more efficiently, lowering your energy consumption and your utility bills.

Clear the Area Around Your Heating System.

Proper airflow is essential for your system to properly function. When items are stored around your heating unit, air flow can be restricted, forcing your system to work harder to heat your home.

Also, storing flammable substances like cleaners, paint, or gasoline near your heating system is a fire hazard. Be sure to leave a clear, 6-foot perimeter around your furnace or air handler.

If you have a heat pump system, regularly remove all yard debris surrounding your outdoor unit to ensure free air flow.

Clear Air Registers and Vents

Be sure that all registers and vents are unobstructed by furniture, area rugs, or other items. If anything is blocking them, move them to allow air to properly move through your home’s living space. Not only will this keep all areas of your home warm, it also allows your heating system to run more efficiently.

Program Your Thermostat

Once cold weather sets in, you need to reprogram your programmable thermostat. Adjusting the settings for winter temperature schedules will save you money on your heating bill, keep you more comfortable, and keep your system running efficiently.

Schedule Maintenance with a HVAC Professional

The best thing you can do to ensure your heating system continues running efficiently is to schedule maintenance with a local HVAC professional technician. An HVAC technician can cover technical checks most homeowners are not capable of tackling themselves.

A professional technician will inspect the entire system, clean and lubricate critical components. These preventive procedures will prevent inconvenient and uncomfortable system breakdowns. If you want to make sure your furnace or heat pump to runs smoothly and consumes less energy all winter long, a check-up performed by a qualified professional is a necessity.

Check Carbon Monoxide Detectors

Now is a good time to make sure your home’s carbon monoxide detectors are in good working order. During the cold season, fuel-burning heating systems create a carbon monoxide risk. Carbon monoxide is dangerous and a working carbon monoxide detector could save your life.

When an HVAC technician performs maintenance on your heating system, he or she will make sure all your system’s components are in good working order. This should prevent any carbon monoxide from being released into the home. However, carbon monoxide detectors should still be in place as a safety precaution.

If your home is not equipped with carbon monoxide detectors, install them immediately. There should be at least one on each floor of your home. Winter is a good time to check power sources on all carbon monoxide detectors. Replace batteries if necessary and test hard-wired connections. Test each unit individually using the test function to make sure they are working properly.

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