Furnaces generally operate without incident when properly installed, tested, and maintained by a HVAC professional. But there may come a time you need to know the difference between regular furnace repair service and emergency furnace repair.
If you live in the Cleveland area, you understand the furnace emergency in the dead of winter. Some problems are more threatening than others and require more immediate attention. With a little investigation, you'll find that some complications are minor to fix, and others require the expertise of a professional.
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Electricity plays a critical role in how your home operates. You rely on your home's electrical system to provide power when you need it, and that could be powering your heating and cooling systems.
Your lights should not flicker when your system turns on. Electrical issues should be addressed by a professional. Understanding the basics of your electrical system can help you identify and avoid potential hazards, but leave nothing to chance.
This video from the Electrical Safety Foundation International (ESFI) provides a brief introduction to the different components of your home's electrical system, includes tips for identifying electrical safety hazards, and explains some advanced electrical technologies that can make your home safer.
ESFI.org Electrical Safety Foundation International (ESFI), Home Electrical System Safety, via YouTube
Do not put yourself or someone else in danger by attempting repairs you are not qualified to do. The Electrical Safety Foundation sites:
Having a qualified and trustworthy HVAC professional "on call" can be a life-saver when your furnace equipment calls it quits.
Sometimes a furnace may be running fine, but loudly. If you can tell the noise is a result of the air running through the ductwork, one solution may be to insulate your ductwork to cut down on the noise. If the actual furnace system is making odd noises, this can occur when the pilot light is improperly adjusted or the blower motor lubrication ports need oiling. There may also be an issue with the belts or even the burner.
What are the different noises coming from your furnace?
a. Pinging or popping sounds - could be thermal expansion- the ductwork expanding and contracting as it heats and cools.
b. Rattling noises - loose panels may need to be tightened.
c. Squealing noises - could be a belt that connects the motor to the fan slipped. Or the belt needs replacement.
d. Grinding sounds - probably time to call a furnace repair technician. The motor bearings need repair. (source)
When to call a professional: While it may not seem like an emergency, you should have furnace system noises checked out by a service technician. Early detection of a problem may save you from further damage and a larger repair bill in the future.
In the case of a furnace turning on and off again too quickly (rapid cycling), many causes can exist. The first may be a dirty or worn-out air filter. If you haven’t replaced it within very recent memory, try doing so — it’s a quick and easy fix.
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Using old filters puts more stress on the compressor and can lead to mechanical failures over time.
When to call a professional: If a new filter doesn't solve the problem, you may have a more serious situation. There may be an issue with the blower motor and belts and both require the service of a professional.
If you smell gas, leave home immediately.
First things first — make sure the residents of your home are safe before you try to get your problem fixed. If you smell a strange odor, everyone should leave the space immediately.
Note that you cannot actually smell or see natural gas. That’s why a substance is added to it, called mercaptan. It smells unattractive - something to the effect of a rotten egg. The smell is very distinct, so you can immediately determine if there is a gas leak in the house.
What Should I Do If I Smell Gas? "Rotten eggs"
Don’t mess around, especially if you hear any hissing.
Make sure the blower is clear of any debris. Also, there should be a flashing light; green or red.
If the light is green, it's okay; if red, call for service. And if there is no light, the furnace problem may be with the thermostat, the blower motor, the run capacitor, furnace control board or transformer.
This video will show you where you should start with your furnace troubleshooting. Here we explain where you can see furnace error codes and where to find the chart that explains what they mean.
Word of Advice TV, Furnace Blowing Cold Air, Where to Start, via Youtube
Check the color of your pilot light flame. If your flames are closer to a yellow color, it could be a combustion problem. With combustion problems, you must be aware of excess carbon monoxide.
Carbon Monoxide is difficult to detect. It's been coined the "silent killer" for a reason. It doesn't have a smell, color, or taste. It can be found in your home from your fireplace, gas ranges, and furnaces. The build-up indoors can poison people and their pets who breathe it.
Natural gas consists of methane and when it burns, it gives off a blue color. When you check your furnace flame, and the color is "off", it is time to call a HVAC professional.
A combination of condensation and soot can also cause burners to malfunction. The burner assembly should be cleaned annually or replaced if the existing one is in poor condition.
This may not be an immediate emergency.
There are a few things you can do before calling for repair service:
A quality furnace system is one of the most important investments you can make in your home. The system adds both value and comfort to your living space and should be regularly maintained to keep it in top working order.
Developing a partnership with a trusted HVAC professional is one good way to educate yourself about your furnace and to feel confident about any repairs you have done.
Remember, while attempting do-it-yourself repairs can be satisfying and cost-effective, it is crucial to be sure that you have the skills before attempting any work on your furnace.