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7 Most Common Reasons Your Furnace Isn't Working

Posted by Mike Cappuccio on Aug 21, 2020 8:00:00 AM

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Whether you have a heat pump, a gas furnace, or any other type of heater, it needs to work properly so that you can stay warm through the winter, but unfortunately, all kinds of big and small issues can cause your heater to malfunction.

American Standard Gas Furnace Cost

Is your furnace not responding to the thermostat? Not turning on? Turning off in the middle of the heating cycle? Or having other problems? To help you get a sense of what's happening, we've put together this brief guide of seven of the most common reasons the heat stops working.

1. Burning Too Much Gas

Gas furnaces need to be calibrated correctly to burn the right amount of fuel, and if they burn too much gas, they may overheat and turn off mid cycle. When installing a gas furnace, the technician checks that the calibration is correct, but ideally, an HVAC professional should also do a combustion analysis once a year to make sure your furnace is still burning the optimal amount of gas.

2. Dead Blower Capacitor

The capacitor starts your furnace, and if it is dead, it can't get your blower moving which means that you won't have any heat. Sometimes, a broken capacitor simply doesn't start the furnace, but in other cases, it can run the blower at excessively low RPMs, leading to a malfunction.

Because this is a relatively common cause of heater breakdowns, HVAC technicians check capacitor tolerances during annual routine maintenance calls, and if they notice an issue, you can address it preemptively.

3. Low Refrigerant on Heat Pumps

Like air conditioners, heat pumps need the right level of refrigerant to function correctly, and if you notice uneven heating or unexpectedly high energy bills, your refrigerant levels may be low. An HVAC professional can help you top up levels and increase the refrigerant charge.

4. Burnt Out Draft Inducer Motor

The inducer motor cleans gas out of the heat exchanger and vents the gasses created during the combustion process. If dirt and grime build up on this fan motor, it can start pulling high amps and potentially burn out. Alternatively, overheating may cause safety switches to engage and turn the furnace off.

Again, technicians check this part during annual furnace service appointments to help ensure you don't face an untimely breakdown in the middle of winter.

5. Cracked Heater Exchanger

If your heater isn't working, the culprit may be a cracked heater exchanger. Typically, this problem reduces your furnance's energy efficiency long before it leads to a system malfunction.

However, depending on the type of furnace, a cracked heater exchanger may leak deadly carbon monoxide (CO) gas into your home. To protect your family, you need to have a working CO detector, and if a technician spots a cracked exchanger during a routine maintenance appointment, you should always replace it.

6. Incorrect Ductwork Design or Installation

Sometimes, heating issues don't derive from your furnace — instead, faulty ductwork may be causing your problems. If your ducts are dirty, clogged, or installed in a way that restricts air flow, your furnace cannot run properly, and it may start overheating and short cycling.

Depending on the situation, you may need to clean the ducts, have them reinstalled, or consider switching to a ductless HVAC system.

7. Lack of HVAC Maintenance

Maintaining your HVAC equipment stops dust from building up in your system and preventing the components from working properly. In a lot of cases, heaters stop working simply because they haven't been maintained properly. Some of most common issues related to lack of maintenance include the following:

  • If your blower motor is dirty, it won't blow cool air over your heat exchanger, causing the exchanger to overheat and stop working.

  • When your flame sensor doesn't sense a flame, it cuts the flow of gas to your heater. Normally, this is a safety feature, but if your flame sensor is dirty, it can't work properly, and it will cut the gas even when a flame is present

  • Dirty filters inhibit air flow through the entire furnace, contributing to a myriad to different problems.

A furnace repair professional can identify the problem and get your furnace running again, but to minimize the risk of future breakdowns, you should become proactive about routine HVAC maintenance.

Believe one of these problems is causing your heat not to work? Worried you may be facing another furnace problem? In either case, call us today. At N.E.T.R., Inc, we repair, service, and install gas furnaces, heat pumps, and other home and commercial HVAC equipment. We look forward to helping you.

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