Most people associate South Texas with hot, oppressive summer heat, but we consider the low, overnight temperatures to be plenty cold. If it’s been several months since the heat came on, here are a few furnace repair items to remember about during the upcoming winter months.
Always Change the Air Filter
The #1 cause of HVAC malfunction is low airflow from a dirty, clogged air filter. This causes problems with system performance, comfort levels, and indoor air quality, and puts unnecessary stress on a hard-working building system. Therefore, the #1 homeowner maintenance is to change the air filter regularly. Set up a three-month reminder on your calendar or phone.
Measure Cycle Time
Since building methods and climates vary tremendously, there is no definitive statement to be made concerning heating cycle lengths and frequency. However, under normal circumstances, expect that your furnace will have a 10 to 15-minute heating cycle approximately 3 to 5 times per hour. If your furnace seems to be running too long or too often, time the heating cycles. If the temperature drop is lower than usual, expect the furnace to work a little harder. If your heating cycle is unusually long or more frequent than normal, schedule a visit with your HVAC professional.
There are many sounds in a modern home that go unnoticed; the heating cycle quickly flows into the background noises of home life. At the beginning of the heating season, listen carefully for unusual changes that might occur with the furnace. Unusual noises would include the development of a new sound or a noticeable increase in volume from a normal sound. These sounds are fairly predictable.
Another generality—these noises indicate trouble and will not go away on their own. It is time to call a technician for repair.
Heating season smells are often different from cooling season smells. Air conditioning removes moisture from the air and can create musty smells. The heating season generates heat, but aside from a familiar smell during the initial heating cycle, “hot” or burning smells are warnings of pending problems. Use judgment since the system may need to be shut down immediately and definitely call a technician for repair.
If one room or area in the home is not as warm and comfortable as remembered from last season, there might be several reasons for this change. Look around and notice whether vents have been closed or covered by furnishings or drapery. Keep doors open to the room or space, then reassess the comfort level. Determine whether a leak or draft from the outside is the cause. If there is no discernable reason for a change in comfort level a technician should check for system performance problems.
For gas-powered furnace systems, burner ignition problems can be frustrating. But also watch for a yellow flame on the burner. When natural gas burns efficiently it produces a distinctive blue flame. A yellow flame indicates incomplete combustion, which produces carbon monoxide gas. This poses a threat to the environment, both inside and outside, wastes energy, and produces sooty buildup around the burner assembly. These are problems that must be addressed immediately.