Most Common Furnace Problems

Most Common Furnace Problems

            When the weather is cold, the last thing you want to deal with is a broken heater or furnace. With proper maintenance, heating systems are usually reliable, but sometimes, these complex machines will stop working or operate inefficiently. At HVAC Philly, our technicians are experts in heater and furnace repair. With over 20 years of experience servicing Philadelphia and Bucks county, we can keep your furnace running smoothly so you don’t go a day in discomfort. Read on for our guide on identifying the most common heater problems.

Insufficient Maintenance


Let’s start with the basics. You’d be surprised to know how many service calls we get that could have been avoided with basic maintenance. Furnaces that aren’t maintained are prone to break down and operate inefficiently. Keeping your furnace clean and replacing the filter are easy and effective ways to avoid these types of problems. Read our previous blog on steps you can take to keep your furnace running at the top of its game.

Furnace Isn’t Adequately Heating

If your furnace is turned on but is only providing some heat, there are several possible causes. The easiest to check is the filter. An old clogged filter that hasn’t been replaced will restrict airflow and put a strain on your system causing inefficient operation. Another possibility is that the gas burners could be in need of cleaning or adjustment. If this is the case, you should call your local HVAC technician to safely fix the problem. Sometimes your furnace will be running properly, and you’ll still have a problem of inadequate heat. It’s possible that you need to insulate or seal your ducts because you might find that they’re leaky. There’s also a possibility that your furnace simply isn’t the right size for your house.

Furnace Isn’t Heating at All

If your furnace has been heating without a problem and suddenly stops working, the first and most simple step is to check your thermostat. If you have a digital thermostat, check the batteries to make sure that they don’t need to be replaced. Thermostats do break from time to time, so you may need to replace yours altogether. If you determine that the thermostat isn’t the problem, move on to your circuit breaker. In most homes, your furnace will be on its own circuit, so you should check to make sure that a fuse didn’t blow and interrupt your home heating. If your thermostat is working and you didn’t blow a fuse, it’s time to explore the possibility that there’s a problem with the furnace’s ignition system.

Ignition/Pilot Light Not Working


Most new furnaces use an electronic ignition system to operate, while older furnaces use a standing pilot light. If the pilot light won’t light at all, check to make sure the gas is turned on or that there is enough fuel supply if you have an oil furnace. If the pilot light won’t stay lit, then there’s a possibility that it’s clogged and needs to be cleared out. To fix this problem, make sure your furnace is off and insert a thin wire into the hole where the pilot light comes from and clear out any debris. If you are still having problems, check for a pilot light adjustment knob and turn it to ensure that there is a steady flame with no yellow showing.

If you have an electronic ignition system, your furnace either uses a spark of electricity or a heating element (think light bulb filament) to ignite the burners. Since these systems are more complex than the traditional pilot light driven furnace, there are a number of reasons why they may not be working. Ignitions switches last from three to five years, so it’s possible that your switch has reached the end of its life span. Luckily, these switches are cheap and easy to switch out.

Furnace Switches on and off Repeatedly

If you feel like your heating system is switching on and off far too often, you might have a problem with what is referred to as ‘short cycling’. Again, this could be a problem with a faulty thermostat, or your thermostat could be too close to a heat vent causing it to get inaccurate temperature readings. If your thermostat is in working order, check your air filter to make sure it’s clean and pointing in the right direction. There are a number of other problems that could cause your system to short cycle such as a faulty flame sensor, air duct blockage, and more. If you can’t figure out the cause yourself, it’s best to call a HVAC technician.

We hope these tips will come in handy if your furnace ever stops working. For quality furnace repair and all of your other HVAC needs, don’t hesitate to call our trusted HVAC Philly technicians at 215-725-6111 for a free estimate.

Maintenance Tips for a Happy Furnace

At HVAC Philly we want to provide you with a few easy maintenance tips to extend the life of your furnace and its efficiency.

Fall Furnace Maintenance Tips

School is almost back in session, and Fall is right around the corner.  The chilly nights in Philadelphia and Bucks County will be here before you know it, and we’ll all be longing for the sweet summer heat once again.  When the cold months arrive, it’ll be time to fire up the furnaces to keep our homes nice and toasty. When’s the last time you performed any maintenance on your furnace?  A typical furnace lasts anywhere from 13 to 20 years, but as your furnace ages, it loses efficiency and costs more to heat your home.  Older furnaces can be dangerous too.  If cracks form in the heat exchanger, there is a risk of a carbon monoxide leak that is not only deadly, but will be costly to fix as well.  At HVAC Philly we want to provide you with a few easy maintenance tips to extend the life of your furnace and its efficiency.  Our experienced HVAC technicians are experts in furnace, boiler, and heat pump repair, maintenance, and installation.  Call 215-725-6111 for a free estimate, and read on for our furnace maintenance tips to keep your furnace running at the top of its game.

Safety First

Before you perform any maintenance on your furnace, it’s crucial to make sure you aren’t putting yourself in danger.  Start by checking for black soot around the furnace.  If you find any, contact a HVAC Philly technician as this could indicate a serious carbon monoxide problem.  If not, look at the flames in the burner to verify that there is a constant blue flame.  A flickering orange flame could indicate that something other than natural gas is burning.  Next, smell for any gas leaks.  Natural gas is odorless, but gas companies add a rotten egg smell to it so you can identify any leaks.  If you detect this rotten egg smell, leave your house immediately and call a HVAC Philly technician.  Do not try to fix anything yourself.  Once you’ve gone through an inspection of your furnace, you’re ready to shut off the power system and circuits connected to your furnace so you can begin maintenance.

Replace the Filter                                      2966031156_8e0186ef5d_z

Replacing your furnace’s filter is an easy and inexpensive way to keep your furnace running smoothly.  The filter prevents dirt and other debris from entering the furnace. When you buy a filter, it will list a recommended amount of time in between replacements.  These times generally vary from 1 to 3 months.  Make sure the filter is facing the right way when you put it in.

Keep it Clean

Even with an air filter, dust and debris can get into your furnace.  You can use a dust brush, damp cloth, and vacuum to clean different parts of your furnace and reduce damages to the system.  The blower, pulleys, and belts, which are beyond the panels that cover the air filter, can be cleaned with a damp cloth. Furnace ducts in forced-air furnaces also often get dirty and can be cleaned by a vacuum.  Finally check your vents, clear any debris with a large brush, and vacuum the waste out.

Check That Thermostat and Call for an Inspection                             447335691_8a933251ab_z

If you feel like your heating system isn’t working to its full potential, you could have a problem with your thermostat.  Often, old thermostats stop working and need to be replaced. If you feel like your thermostat isn’t working or need help with your furnace inspection or maintenance, call a HVAC Philly technician to come take a look at it.  Our technicians will do a thorough inspection of your heating system and can perform maintenance that will save you money in the long run.  Remember it’s much cheaper to maintain a furnace than it is to repair a broken one.