One of the last things that any homeowner would like to discover on a winter morning is that his furnace is not blowing warm air, or is not working at all. The best thing to do is to make a careful yet simple routine check on the furnace, and if this simple check does not solve the matter then calling in a licensed furnace or HVAC technician will surely solve the issue.
It is crucial to call an HVAC professional as soon as the heater stops working because the chill could become unbearable soon. If this happens, it will be very uncomfortable for children and elderly members of the household. Moreover, a faulty heater can emit carbon monoxide which poses a serious, if not a fatal risk for everyone at home.
There are several reasons why an HVAC will stop blowing warm air, and this write-up will round up the most common possible causes. Likewise, it will provide a basic guide on what to check before calling in the pros and when to call in a technician.
How does a heater or a furnace work?
To fully understand why a furnace would suddenly stop working, it will help to know first how it functions. For instance, heaters used in most homes are gas-fired furnaces. This heater utilizes propane or natural gas to heat the whole house. While this may sound a bit unsafe, it is good to know that furnaces are fully equipped with safety features that will detect overheating and problems with gas combustion. Once it detects any abnormality in these areas, it will automatically turn off the system to prevent structural fires and carbon monoxide poisoning.
Heat pumps on the other hand are like air conditioners that produce heated air. It is paired with an electric-powered air handler that helps safely distribute warm air once the temperature goes down below 45 degrees Fahrenheit. The reverse operation of the heat pump is attributed to the expansion valve. The refrigerant within the system collects warm air outside to bring inside the house. The cold air inside the house will then be sucked out by the system and brought outdoors.
There are several possible causes why a home heater will suddenly break down and stop blowing warm air. Below are some of them. Reliable Standard Furnace Repair Services.
It is possible that the thermostat was not set to heat, hence the heating system did not blow warm air indoors. Remember, it would not automatically work if the temperature is not yet below the desired setting, so revisit the thermostat settings before calling in an HVAC Pro. Make sure that it is either set to HEAT or AUTO and that the desired temperature levels are indicated within.
Another possibility is that the thermostat needs a battery replacement. In this case, routinely replacing batteries even before they run out of power, is the best solution to keep the thermostat working correctly. If the thermostat still seems faulty, then get in touch with a licensed HVAC technician.
Clogged air filters
One of the usual culprits in a furnace or heater breakdown is a clogged air filter. Airflow is crucial in heaters because this allows the system to suck in cold air indoors and distribute warm air throughout the house. If the filters are filled with dust and debris, air circulation within the system will be hampered, and the whole system will strain from producing warm air.
Filters need to be washed or replaced every three months to prevent dirt build-up. Pollen, dust, debris, dander, and other impurities can easily clog the filter and consequently obstruct airflow. When this happens, the heater’s mechanism could overheat. To prevent safety issues, the system itself will turn off the heater, and then it will stop working.
If the air filters are clogged, replace them, and check if the heater will start working again. By routinely replacing or washing filters, homeowners get to prolong the lifespan of their HVAC system.
The furnace is turned off
Sometimes, furnaces stop working simply because they have been accidentally turned off. Usually, during spring cleaning, or when a roofing technician, plumber, or electrician works in the attic, the furnace switch button accidentally gets turned off. Take a look at the switch before calling in the pros. If it is accidentally turned off, then just flip it back on. Instead, if your furnace is blowing cold air in the house when its not suppose to be, you should probably call an HVAC Technician.
There is an electrical problem
If the furnace or heater switch is on, yet the furnace is not working, the next thing to check is the breaker panel. Take a look at whether the breaker for the heat pump was tripped. If it did then resetting it might do the trick. If however it gets tripped again, then get in touch with an electrician who can assess the actual electrical problem in the household.
It is also possible that the system is automatically getting turned off as a safety feature. Furnaces have a safety feature that overrides their functions and cuts the power source as soon it detects overheating gas leaks or other dangerous situations.
Likewise, in heat pumps, it is also possible that the auxiliary heat strips are failing hence the heat pump can no longer produce warm air throughout the house.
The registers or vents are blocked
Another common reason why a home heating system would suddenly fail to produce warm air is the blocking of vents or air registers. When the registers are closed or blocked, the heat pump or the furnace cannot take in air, process it, and redistribute heated air indoors.
Sometimes, the blocking of the registers is accidental. Like when people rearrange their homes, they accidentally block the vents with furniture or upholstery. Then there are times when some homeowners purposely block or close the vents in the hopes of saving on heating bills. Experts frown upon this practice since it does not accomplish the goal and instead could damage the furnace or the heat pump. By closing the vent, the mechanism encounters undue pressure and at the same time gives way to uneven home heating.
The heat pump is leaking refrigerant or has low levels of it
Another possible reason why a heater will suddenly bog down is when it has a leaking refrigerant,. Refrigerant is the substance that heat pumps utilize to remove cool air indoors and move it outdoors. When this runs low or leaks out of the system, then the heat pump will not work.
If this is the issue, then the only thing a homeowner can do is to call on the pros. Only licensed HVAC technicians can confirm if the refrigerant is leaking or is at its low levels. Likewise, only professionals can do something about it. Repairing the leak is the long-term solution to this because topping up would only mean that refrigerant levels will soon go low once again.
A clue on low refrigerant levels that homeowners can spot is rising humidity indoors. Low levels of refrigerant also give way to higher humidity, so if this is the case, get in touch with a licensed HVAC technician to rectify the matter right away. Learn more about what to check first if your heater isn’t working you may be interested to learn about all the ways it may not be working.
Ductwork and insulation issues
Problems with the ductwork can drastically affect heating inside the house. For instance, if there are tears within the ducts, or it is incorrectly fitted, the heating mechanism will have trouble taking in air and redistributing warm air throughout the house.
Sometimes, wear and tear are to blame. For this reason, it is crucial to have annual maintenance inspections that could determine whether a duct replacement is needed. It is also possible that some pests like rodents or some animals like raccoons may have taken residence on the ducts and caused damage.
As for insulation, some rooms may seem chillier than others simply because they have less or worn-out insulation. When there is inadequate insulation, heat could escape through the walls or the ceiling. It is a good idea to check the insulation from time to time, and replace it as needed.
Proper maintenance of the HVAC or Furnace
The best way to keep an HVAC working in its top condition is to keep it professionally maintained. Experts recommend a twice-a-year professional tune-up so that operational issues are discovered even before the furnace or heat pump breaks down.
These professional maintenance inspections will not only ensure that the heater will work throughout the winter, but could also prolong the lifespan of the system.
On the homeowner’s end, he has to make sure that he replaces or washes the filters at least every three months to avoid clogging, and consequent overheating. Make sure you also check the pilot light to ensure it is functioning.
Stay warm throughout the winter
Keep everyone comfortably warm and toasty all winter long by keeping your HVAC or furnace in its best condition. We at Reliable Standard Heating and Air can help you with that. We offer licensed HVAC services which include maintenance, professional tune-ups, heating repairs and troubleshooting, upgrade, and replacements. Get in touch with us today through our hotline or schedule a maintenance check through our online system. Call us today!