In this article, we’ll look at four of the common causes that we here at Compass Heating and Air have noticed in homes in Elgin, Barrington, and other towns in the Fox River Valley.
And, the truth is, not all of them required a furnace repair call.
So, we’ll go through four things to look for and when to call a professional.
The good news is you can fix some of these on your own. We’ll walk you through those. For the others, you’ll need a professional.
Fortunately, this is an easy and inexpensive fix. That makes it an excellent place to start troubleshooting.
All you have to do is buy a new filter at a hardware store. They should be fairly inexpensive. Then, slide out the old one and put the new one in its place.
Generally, you should put in a new filter every three months or so. But, if you’ve been doing that and they’re filthy when you take them out, you can try changing them more often.
People with pets, for instance, often have to do this because the fur and dander clog it more quickly than usual.
Start there, and see if that helps. In the meantime, you should also look into the next item.
It’s also a good idea to check out your vents if you’re getting less hot air than usual in the winter. Sometimes, blocking even one of them can throw off the airflow in the house.
That’s especially possible if you blocked a return vent somewhere.
That’s the one responsible for drawing air back into the system. It’s just as essential as the ones circulating the treated air.
So, check all the rooms and make sure each vent has at least a foot of open space all around it. This way, you’re sure it has enough room to circulate the air.
Otherwise, you’re disrupting the airflow. When you do that, the heated air can back up into the system. This can cause an even bigger problem, which we’ll address a little later.
A hole, split, or leak in your ductwork can drastically reduce the airflow throughout the house.
Remember, the system works by forcing air from the furnace through the vents. As the air escapes, the pressure reduces.
That, in part, is why some houses always have a draft on the top floor — especially if it’s three or more stories.
However, even a ranch home will see a significant reduction in pressure if there’s a problem with the ductwork.
Once the treated air is escaping, it’s not reaching the rooms where you need it. And, the circulation becomes weaker overall.
And, unfortunately, this isn’t something you can fix yourself. It’s often tough to even find the problem without the help of a professional.
If you happen to see a hole or split, or you can feel air escaping where it shouldn’t, then at least you know what’s happening.
Either way, call an HVAC contractor to check the system if you’ve checked the vents and air filter, and you still have weak circulation.
Sometimes, the problem is just an older unit.
Even with the best upkeep, any HVAC system will fail eventually. And, one of the warning signs is that it can’t keep up with the same weather it’s handled in the past.
That means, in many cases, you notice weak airflow throughout your house.
There are other indications of an aging furnace, too.
If your energy bills have been getting bigger, but the weather hasn’t been that different recently or year-over-year, your system is struggling.
What’s happening is that your furnace is working harder to do the same job. But, as it works harder, it needs to use more resources.
Finally, making more frequent repair calls is another sign that it’s time to start thinking about a replacement.
If you’re noticing these problems along with weak airflow, talk to your contractor about whether it’s time for a new unit.
It’s not a decision to make lightly, we know. But, you’re better off getting ahead of the problem. Otherwise, you could be in a pinch if your furnace breaks down in the dead of winter, and you need an emergency replacement.
Whatever the cause for the weak airflow in your home, make sure you get to the bottom of it quickly. If you don’t, you could end up with a much bigger problem when you call for a furnace repair.
At least two of the symptoms we outlined here will result in heat overloading your furnace.
If the air filter is clogged, the heat can’t make its way out of the unit. And, blocked vents will cause the hot air to back up into the system.
When this happens, the parts inside the furnace can overheat. Yes, they generate all that warmth. But, they’re not built to contain it.
If it goes on too long, your system will start blowing cold air to prevent damage. But, after a while, the rapid temperature changes will stress the components, causing a breakdown.
>Similarly, making the system work too hard will wear it down till something breaks as well.
That’s what can happen with a leaky duct or older, failing furnace: Eventually, something will give.
So, follow those first to diagnostic steps as soon as you notice a problem. And, if they don’t solve the problem, give us a call here at Compass Heating and Air Conditioning. We’ll inspect the entire system and let you know what’s going on and how to fix it.