Don’t Get Left Out in the Cold this Winter!
As a Trane Comfort Specialist, learn from the experts at J&A about eight common HVAC problems you could be facing this heating season.
When the temperature drops, there is nothing like being able to come home to a warm, comfortable environment. But sometimes, no matter how badly we want to cuddle up in our cozy homes, our HVAC system may experience problems that make it difficult to get and stay warm.
Your HVAC system is an essential part of the home that provides families a safe and comfy living. However, it’s not uncommon for the system to have problems because of its work, especially during the winter months.
Don’t get left out in the cold. To guide you in identifying if there is a problem with your HVAC system, here is a list of common HVAC problems that could occur this winter.
In brief, NOW is the time to plan for any issues that may come up with your home’s HVAC system.
“I have decreased airflow from my vents, and my air doesn’t feel as warm.”
Restricted airflow can result from many things, including dust or debris in the heating system or a blocked fan, or a broken fan motor. If you’re experiencing airflow issues, be sure that all air vents are open and there are no leaks around exterior doors or windows.
However, One of the more common reasons for this wintertime problem is a dirty air filter. Filters remove dust, dirt, pollen, microbes, and other gunk from the air traveling through your HVAC system. Because most homeowners in the Pittsburgh region run their heating system quite often in the winter, more dust and debris begin to collect in the heating system. As the filter catches these nasties, they begin to build up and, sooner or later, restrict airflow and make your system work harder to heat your home.
Changing out the filter regularly takes only a few minutes and not only keeps the warm air flowing; it also preserves the life of your system.
Another potential problem with a decrease in warm air is your insulation. Over time, insulation compacts, reducing its effectiveness. Also, insulation can become damaged by water leakage or pests. While insulation is made to last many years, additional insulation almost always creates energy efficiency.
“My home has uneven heating issues.”
There is nothing more irksome than getting uneven temperature and airflow inside your home. Envision one room freezing and another hot enough to bake cookies. Cold spots aren’t just unpleasant; they’re also a tremendous waste of energy.
There are a number of possible issues involved when this occurs. For example, the blower motor on the heating system may not be doing its job properly. Again, as is often the case with many of these HVAC problems, you might have a dirty air filter preventing the system from heating properly.
Keep in mind, too, that uneven airflow might not even be an HVAC problem. You need to inspect for cracks or holes around windowsills and doorways. When you find them, seal them to ensure none of the warm air goes out. If the problem persists, you’ll also need to check vents and ducts for blockages or debris and clear these areas. Cold zones often suggest that the duct work is clogged and needs cleaning.
If these actions don’t solve the issue, such airflow problems can be drastically reduced by having an HVAC professional from J&A South Park come out and perform some routine maintenance on your system.
“My thermostat is not working properly.”
Don’t be overly concerned. Thermostat issues are very common. And the majority of the time, it’s an easy fix.
Thermostats regulate the heating system. If the thermostat isn’t working as it should be, the heating system won’t work as expected. A malfunctioning thermostat means it could be running the heater at the wrong times or even nonstop, which can make life inside your home rather uncomfortable.
Most thermostat issues stem from needing to be re-calibrated or faulty wiring, or something as simple as replacing the batteries. Low or dead batteries are an easy fix with a fresh, new battery. If the problem is faulty wiring or a re-calibration is needed, however, you’ll want to call one of the pros at J&A South Park to help out. Both of these issues require a professional to fix.
How do you prevent these issues from arising in the first place? Your regular HVAC maintenance appointment. Our technicians re-calibrate and test the thermostat as part of standard maintenance.
Keep in mind; a broken or faulty thermostat can cause room temperatures to rise even though there is nothing wrong with your actual HVAC system. So, you might want to check your thermostat before you look at your HVAC system when such a problem arises.
One final suggestion: If it ultimately comes down to replacing your thermostat, it’s a great time to upgrade to a programmable model thermostat if you don’t already have one in place.
“My heat pump isn’t functioning.”
Heat pumps are an effective way to heat a home uniformly and efficiently. You need to be aware; however, that heat pumps can suffer from a number of ills, including broken fan motors and coil blockage. That’s because the pump’s external unit is attached to the house’s exterior and can be prone to failure due to low temperatures and a build-up of ice or snow. This includes the pump’s fan, which can be blocked or broken by ice.
Not unlike a freezer, a heat pump needs to be able to defrost thoroughly to work effectively. If the coil and fan are blocked by ice or frost, it will most likely stop working. While modern heat pumps come with an automatic defrost setting, in cases of a heavy build-up of ice, this function may not work as intended, and you’ll have to remove the ice manually.
The best way to avoid this from happening is to get a proper inspection before the cold settles in. A routine HVAC maintenance check before winter will help ensure that everything is in working order and ready to handle the cold.
“I have frozen pipes on my outdoor HVAC unit.”
Besides fire, a house’s biggest enemy is water. Only this time of year, unwelcome water doesn’t come in the form of humidity or a leaky roof, rather, in the form of solid icy pipes.
As winter approaches and colder temperatures arrive, you might detect a build-up of ice on your outdoor HVAC pipes and coils. As the temperature plummets, objects like pipes and coils can freeze over, and your HVAC unit will cease to function as expected. Little doubt that a happy homeowner will suddenly grow frustrated when his or her heating breaks down due to pipes freezing up.
In a worst-case scenario, frozen pipes can actually burst because of the pressure build-up. That could be an expensive emergency repair. If you suspect that you have frozen water preventing your heating system from working, call for professional HVAC help immediately. You should also turn off the source of water while waiting for the repair person to show up.
“My pilot light isn’t functioning properly.”
If you have an older gas furnace (prior to 2010), your heating unit relies on a little blue flame known as a pilot light to ensure ignition of the burners. If your pilot light is having issues, such as not lighting or only barely having a flame, you’ll quickly notice the temperature drops in your home.
A frequent cause of pilot light problems is a dirty, damaged, or otherwise malfunctioning flame sensor. Your HVAC pro can clean or replace this part and get your pilot light burning safe and steady again. There are, however, several other issues that could be at work, and you’ll definitely want to call for help with pilot light problems because gas lines can be hazardous to work with for those without the necessary know-how.
Like so many issues with HVAC systems, both new and old, the best prevention is sticking to regular maintenance with the HVAC professionals at J&A South Park.
“My heating system cycles off and on, all day long.”
Do you notice your heater switching on and off often? If yes, then you probably have a heat cycling problem. In addition to reducing your system’s efficiency, heat cycling can increase your energy bills. Often, this is caused by a malfunctioning thermostat. If the thermostat is not the issue, the problem might lie in the furnace itself.
If the filter or blower is dirty or clogged, the airflow will not be sufficient enough. This situation can cause the furnace to turn off and on again and again. It will heat up too quickly and shut itself off.
You can prevent cycling heat by getting your heating system inspected and maintained on a routine schedule. Not only will this ensure that you stay warm during the winter, but it will also help you to conserve energy, reducing your costs.
“I just experienced a complete loss of heat.”
If your furnace suddenly stops, first check if there was a power outage or surge. If that’s not the problem, check to see if your furnace is still receiving power.
There could be a number of other issues here, including a malfunctioning pilot light, electric power failure, or a thermostat setting that’s no correct. It could also be a compressor issue of a major leak in an air duct that is allowing cold air from the outside to creep in.
If you have a heat pump, the freezing cold weather and ice, in particular, can wreak havoc on your unit.
Some of these problems can cause the furnace, not to work, which could make this one of the more difficult and sometimes unavoidable repairs.
It’s best to call a professional to check this one out because a loss of heat could indicate a much bigger problem!
One more thing . . .
I know; we said that we’d present the eight common HVAC problems that might arise this winter. However, we’d be remiss if we didn’t mention a ninth issue, one that could very well end up saving your life.
It has to do with carbon monoxide. Known as the silent killer, odorless and tasteless lethal carbon monoxide gas leaks are a looming danger for homes with heating systems in place. If your gas furnace is over ten years old, there is a higher risk of having a rusted heat exchanger. Small cracks in the heat exchange could leak carbon monoxide.
Because of its incredibly harmful side effects, it’s highly recommended to place carbon monoxide detectors throughout your home. You might also want your J&A South Park heating professional to inspect your HVAC system for potential carbon monoxide leaks every time the furnace is serviced.
J&A South Park is a full-service HVAC company, and our team of experienced professionals can handle any kind of HVAC problem.
As licensed contractors and specialists in the field of heating and air conditioning, we have the tools, equipment, and know-how to keep your HVAC system running smoothly all year long.
Moreover, we can implement a regular maintenance program to keep your HVAC system in excellent condition year-round.