Few household problems strike fear in a homeowner as much as a malfunctioning HVAC system. Before you hit the panic button, it might be worth the time to check the simple things that can go wrong with your HVAC system. Many of these issues can be resolved without a call to the HVAC repair technician.
Common Maintenance Issues
In the summertime, the air inside the house feels unusually stuffy. A quick check of the closest register reveals warmer air or weak airflow. Your first reaction might be to panic, but the solution could be simpler than you expect.
Before you open your chequebook or enter panic mode, check the air filters in the HVAC system. Pull out the filters and check for dust, dirt, and other contaminants. Dirty air filters are among the most common HVAC system problems. Fortunately, a dirty air filter is one of the most inexpensive fixes to a malfunctioning HVAC system.
A dirty air filter strains the HVAC fan motor and causes the system to work harder than it must. Over time, dirty air filters could cause the system to overheat and eventually fail. Check the instruction manual that came with your HVAC system, but common wisdom recommends changing the filters once each month.
If the HVAC system fails to turn on or runs in short cycles, the issue might be with the ignition. The cause of the ignition failure can be a number of problems, including pilot light failure, flame sensor problems, or even gas supply issues for gas furnaces. Electrical systems may have electrical issues causing ignition failure. Either way, a licensed technician should be consulted for repairs, but narrowing down the cause can save you money in the long run.
Like air filter issues, one of the most overlooked HVAC system problems can be linked to a malfunctioning thermostat. In the new era of smart homes and smart electronics, it may seem redundant to check on the thermostat, but this is a potentially simple fix.
Check the settings first and ensure that the temperature is set where it is intended. For digital thermostats, be sure the unit is on, and the batteries are fresh. Check smart devices for connection problems. Refer to your owner’s manual for step by step troubleshooting instructions.
Breaker or Fuse Issues
One of the fastest fixes to a malfunctioning HVAC system lies behind the electrical panel door. Blown fuses or tripped breakers might be the cause behind the system failure. Repeat issues with blown fuses or tripped breakers may require the attention of an expert HVAC technician or a professional electrician.
A power surge or electrical storm might be the cause of the tripped breaker, but the cause could also be more linked to the other HVAC system issues. As discussed before, dirty air filters can restrict airflow. This strain on the blower motor can cause it to pull more power and result in a tripped breaker. Check the air filters and replace them if needed before you turn the breaker back on.
Most HVAC systems use coils as part of the heat exchange system. These coils, whether they are part of the exterior system or inside the house, can become dirty over time. This popular HVAC website recommends regular maintenance checks to help reduce the possibility of dirty coils.
Check outdoor coils for dirt, leaves, or other debris. Keep trees, and shrubs cut back and away from the coils. Indoor coil maintenance may require the help of a technician. A thin layer of dirt on the dirt can be removed by gently spraying water from the garden hose over the unit. Refer to your owner’s manual for more information.
Strange Noises Coming from the HVAC System
Whether it is the air conditioner or furnace, over time, you will get used to the noises your system makes. Once in a while, a strange noise may come from your HVAC system. In the winter, you may hear popping noises as the metal in the ducts expands when the heat cycle begins.
If you do hear a whining or squealing noise, it could be a problem with the bearings in the motor. Other noises could indicate debris on the burners or other maintenance problems. It is best to call an expert technician for these issues.
Constant Blower Motor
If you hear the blower motor running continuously, first check the thermostat settings. If the fan setting is on, the blower motor will run constantly. If the fan setting is not on, consult a service technician. Other causes of a running blower motor may include issues with the motherboard and will require expert help.
Vents and Registers
Finally, if the air inside the house feels too warm and stuffy in the summer or cold in the winter, take a quick tour of the house and check each register. Make sure the register is properly opened and that no furniture or other items are blocking the airflow. Do the same check on return air vents and make sure the vents are free of dust and debris.