Heating Repair Basics

hands using wrench to fix pipes for heating system

When it’s cold outside, the last thing you want is to deal with furnace or heating problems in your home. Having to wait for the repair person to come out could feel like an eternity when temperatures are plummeting, so for that reason you’ll want to have a firm grasp on heating repair basics.

Heating System Won’t Turn On

If you turn on your heating system and find that nothing happens, don’t panic. First, check that the thermostat is correctly set to heat and verify that the batteries in the thermostat are operational. These batteries should be changed at least once a year.

If that’s not the issue, open the thermostat and gently blow to remove dust or debris that could be causing a clog.

If that doesn’t fix the issue, check the breaker that controls your heating system. If it’s on, turn it off and then check the fuse for the furnace.

Finally, check the air filters. Dirty filters can block airflow. Clean or replace the HVAC filters and verify that all heat vents are open and not blocked.

Furnace Not Producing Enough Heat

man fixing furnace system

If you find that your heating system is not working well enough to achieve the desired temperature in your home, you’ll want to take a few measures to try to fix the problem. This is another issue that could be related to a clogged filter.

If dust and debris is not completely blocking the airflow, it could be severely restricting it, causing a lack of heat to flow through your home. Replace or clean the filter to eradicate the issue.

To check your filter for cleanliness if it’s not obvious at first glance, hold it up to the light. If light shines through the filter, it’s clean, but if not, you need a replacement. A fresh, new filter will not only potentially help fix this issue, but it’ll cause your heating system to work less to produce hot air, driving down your utility bill.

Noisy Furnace or Ducts

Another common furnace issue is hearing strange noises from the system or in your ducts. Whether it’s rattling, squeaking, or bumping sounds, they likely are a sign of some type of problem.

There is a chance that the noise you’re hearing is just air running through the system, in which case, the ductwork should just be insulated to reduce noise. However, if that’s not the source of the noise, it could indicate that the pilot light is not properly adjusted or the blower motor lubrication ports require more oil. It could also indicate issues with the belts or furnace burner.

Pinging or popping sounds are likely a result of thermal expansion in the ductwork as the system heats and cools. This is normal and does not need much attention. If you hear rattling, tighten panels to see if that eradicates the racket.

Squealing noises typically indicate that the belt connecting the motor to the fan either slipped and needs to be reconnected or it needs to be replaced. Grinding sounds are a solid indication that professional consultation is needed, as it points to a motor issue.

Heating System Best Practices

Besides common issues, there are a few best practices to follow each year as you turn your system on again for the season.

Clear the Area Around Your Furnace

Even if you use the area around your furnace for storage during the warmer months, you need to clear that space before you turn your heat on for the first time of the season. A furnace with space around it will function better and is safer. You should also vacuum and dust around your furnace to rid the space of any lingering debris.

Check Vents

man checking air vent duct with flashlight

At the beginning of the winter, walk through your entire house and check all of your vents. Make sure none are obstructed, which would cause limited heat flow. Furniture should not be on top of vents. Also verify that each of them are open.

Clear Outdoor Vents

Some furnaces have outdoor vents on the side of the house. At the beginning of the cold weather season, verify that the outdoor vent is cleared of leaves and other debris. The intake and exhaust of this vent will need to be checked to ensure there is no ice in the pipe and that it is clear and ready for use.

Having a grasp on basic heating repair actions and best practices will make all the difference in the event of an issue and in keeping your system running well all season long.