Heating & HVAC FAQs
Accurate knows that replacing your furnace may not be at the top of your home improvement list. But as the temperature begins to drop in Southern California, it is important to get the answers about your furnace that can keep you warm this winter. Knowing the difference between a furnace vs heat pump and your home’s options can help you decide what is best for your home and your needs. Not sure if you need a furnace inspection or a new unit all together? Keep reading to find out the answers to the most common HVAC questions!
1. When should I replace my furnace?
On average, experts say that a well-maintained furnace can last between 18 to 20 years. However, as you notice your furnace is beginning to break down, especially if your repairs are happening frequently, it is likely that your furnace is coming to the end of its useful life. That’s why regular furnace inspections are the best way to save yourself money. If you aren’t sure whether it’s time to repair or replace your furnace, having one of our technicians inspect your unit could be very informative!
2. Why isn’t my furnace blowing hot air?
There may be several reasons why your furnace isn’t blowing hot air. The first and most easy thing to fix could be your thermostat. If your thermostat fan is set to on, your furnace will blow air to circulate it around your house regardless if the furnace is heating or not. This may cause you to feel cold air blowing through your vents. Another common cause is a dirty air filter which stifles airflow from the furnace and causes it to overheat. When this happens, the furnace burners shut themselves off as a safety mechanism. Lastly, if your furnace is not blowing hot air you may need to check your pilot light. If your pilot light is not lit, then your furnace burners will not light and your furnace cannot generate heat. If you need assistance with any of these procedures or if these simple fixes have not solved your problem, it may be time to call Accurate for your heating needs!
3. Why does my furnace smell smokey like it’s burning?
There are 3 different scents to look out for if your furnace smells like it’s burning. If the burning smells like normal smoke, it could mean that you have a clogged chimney. If it smells more like burning dust, this is actually normal if you have not used your furnace is a while or if your air filters need changing. The smell should disappear after your furnace has been running for a few hours. If the burning smells like an electrical burn, this is a more serious situation. This smell could be caused by burning plastic or rubber and if so, checking your ductwork for foreign objects or overheating is a must. If you cannot find the source of the burning, you’ll want to call a technician immediately for a furnace inspection.
4. My furnace is leaking… is this a problem?
The most common reason for a furnace leak is condensation. High-efficiency furnaces use cool air which produce condensation. A leak can occur if the condensation tubing is clogged or broken which would then force the condensation out of other places. It’s best to have a technician perform a check-up on your furnace as soon as you notice a leak, that way more serious problems may be avoided.
5. How often should I be replacing my filter?
The general rule of thumb is to replace your filter every 90 days. This is because, over the course of that time, your filter begins to trap dirt, dust, and allergens which lead to decreased efficiency. You may want to change your filter more frequently, if someone in your home has asthma or allergies or if you have pets. Your air filter directly affects the quality of air in your home, which can worsen the longer a filter is left unchanged.
6. My furnace fuse keeps blowing, does that mean my furnace is broken?
Your furnace may not necessarily be broken, however, a frequently blown fuse could signal more serious electrical problems that may have dangerous effects such as an electrical fire. Blown fuses can have a number of causes, from excessive strain, faulty transformers, insufficient fuse size, to malfunctioning and loose wires, it is best to call a trained professional to inspect the problem and properly diagnose the source of the issue.
7. Why does my furnace keep turning on and off?
There are three common causes for this problem, often referred to as “short cycling”. Dirty air filters prevent air from getting into your furnace which causes the heat exchanger inside of the furnace to overheat and shut down. You may also want to check to see if your thermostat is malfunctioning or if your thermostat is placed near a heat source that it may accidentally register as the overall temperature of your home, causing your furnace to turn off or on. Lastly, if your furnace is too large for the size of your home, it may be heating and cooling the space too quickly, causing it to shut off. Short cycling may lead to higher energy bills or even a premature furnace replacement, so if you notice your furnace acting up, it’s best to call quickly!
8. Why is there a loud bang when my furnace turns on or shuts off?
The two most common reasons this occurs are dirty furnace burners or popping ducts. Furnace burners become dirty when the furnace filter is overdue for a change or the furnace itself is overdue for a check-up! The built-up dirt on the burner causes a delayed gas ignition which releases an audible “bang” when the built-up gas is finally lit. Think of this as a mini-explosion within your furnace… sounds scary? Well, this could turn into a serious issue leading to other problems like a cracked heat exchanger. To determine if this is the case, call a technician right away! The other reason this occurs is due to the expansion and contraction of the ducts in your home during the heating cycle of the furnace. As the ducts move, they can let out a banging noise as the pressure changes within the ducts. If this happens frequently, you may want to check your air filter for dirt or buildup, or any closed vents in the house to determine if the air pressure of your home is not flowing as it should be.
9. Does it matter where my furnace is located?
Furnaces are typically located in a central area of your home and near other mechanical equipment like a hot water heater or a water softener. Furnaces should not be located in the attic, crawlspace, or garage as it needs to be placed in an easily accessible location for annual furnace inspections and servicing.
10. What is the difference between a furnace vs heat pump?
Based on our mild winters and the type of long summers we are lucky to have, Heat Pumps tend to be the selected favorite. They run cleaner, use less energy, don’t use fossil fuels, and are safer in the long run when considering carbon monoxide poisoning or gas leaks and potential explosions in extreme cases.
While furnace systems are cheaper in the long run, when it comes to repairs and maintenance, the furnace is dependant upon combustion and using gas or oil to ensure heating is distributed properly. A furnace alone cannot cool air, however, can be utilized to work cohesively with an outside unit for air conditioning use. For more information on a specific breakdown of the strengths and weaknesses of furnaces vs heat pumps check out our article to see which is best for your home!
11. What size furnace do I need?
The size of a furnace is dependent on the size of your home as well as air quality and air distribution throughout the home. This evaluation should be done by a trained HVAC technician who is aware of relevant standards and can provide an appropriate quote based on considerations such as new windows, insulation, and other appliance that could affect the size of the furnace.
12. How many BTUs are required to properly heat my home?
BTUs are the standard of measurement for “fan forced heat output”, or the amount of heat required to alter a pound of water by one degree Fahrenheit at one atmosphere pressure. To calculate how many are required in your home, divide the square footage of your home by 0.28 to give yourself a rough estimate.
13. Are furnace inspections necessary?
Yes, we recommend having your furnace inspected annually to ensure your furnace is operating properly, efficiently, and safely. To learn more about furnace inspections check out our post!
14. What are signs that my furnace may need to be replaced soon?
Common telltale signs of imminent furnace failure include delayed ignition, corrosion, lack of heat production, unusual odors, and frequent pilot light failures. If you are experiencing any of these symptoms, call us for a furnace inspection! Our technicians will be able to diagnose the problem and recommend maintenance repair or a new replacement.
15. What are some helpful tips for maintaining my furnace?
The first rule of thumb in furnace maintenance is regular, professional tune-ups. This helps prevent costly repairs, extends the life of your furnace, and lowers utility bills. But here are some helpful tips that you can do at home to maintain your furnace:
– Keep your thermostat set at the lowest comfortable temperature possible.
– Clean and replace your filters regularly.
– Clean your baseboard heaters, registers, and radiators regularly so warm air can circulate freely.
– Turn off the exhaust fan in your kitchen or bath after 20 minutes of use.