Gas furnaces are important elements in most homes, especially those in areas where temperatures drop to levels that may not be comfortable for people. Having the gas furnace develop problems can be pretty distressing, especially during the winter. Having an understanding of how the furnace works as well as how to identify the common problems affecting it should help you avoid these problems. With some basic information about your gas furnace, you will know what to do in order to get it to work again.
What are the basics on how the gas furnace works?
In essence, a gas furnace can be thought of as a box which has pipes leading to and from the house. Within the box, there is a heating element that is powered by gas. When the gas is burnt, it releases heat which is absorbed by air that will be passed to the house, making it warm. Cool air from the room is sucked and passed into the furnace, repeating the process.
In reality, the process of heating a home using the furnace is a lot more complicated than this. Some of them include filters and more complex and efficient methods of heating the air. Some of the problems you are likely to encounter with the furnace include:
The furnace does not produce heat
This will manifest as the house being too cold despite the fact that the heater is turned on. If you encounter such a problem, some of the things you need to check out include:
• The thermostat setting: is it too low or not working?
• Any circuit breakers: if you have circuit breakers in the home, try finding out if some of them have tripped. This could lead to lack of power supply to the gas furnace
• The gas control valve: Find the location of the control valve on the gas lines, and make sure that it’s open
• Check the pilot light: some gas furnaces work through non electric ignition. If this is the case, find out if the pilot light is on indicating that this feature is functional
• Check the associated fuses: This is a common cause of gas furnace failure, but most people fail to identify it. If you own a gas furnace, make sure you have a set of replacement fuses for such occasions
The gas furnace produces heat, but it’s not enough
Common problems resulting in this include the presence of a dirty air filter, dirty burners or impaired air flow to the unit. Replacing the filters if they are dirty can be done by following the user manual. For dirty burners or impaired flow, it may be prudent to call a repair technician to handle the job for you, since it’s usually a very sensitive one.
The furnace turns off and on too frequently
Gas furnaces are designed to turn on when the incoming air is too cool, and to turn off when it becomes hot enough. This saves energy. When the frequency of this changes, it could indicate problems such as the presence of a dirty filter and a problem with the blower motor. The thermostat may also have failed. Things you can do to adjust this include adjusting the thermostat, replacing the filter and lubricating the blower motor. If you don’t know how to do these, it would be wise to consult a repair specialist to avoid inadvertent damage to the device.
If the amount of noise produced by the furnace increases, it is something that you should address urgently. A high pitched squealing noise is the sign of a slipping belt on the blower or motor. A rumbling noise could be caused by a pilot light that has not been adjusted properly, particularly if the noise occurs when the burners are off.
This type of noise may also be caused by dirty gas burners. Some of the things one can do to repair these problems include tightening any loose belts, changing frayed blower and motor belts and also replacing the pilot light. If you are not sure about how to proceed with this, always consult a technician to do it for you. You should also only buy spare parts when you are absolutely sure about the type that your furnace uses to avoid wasting money on the wrong ones.
These are just a few of the common problems that you may encounter as a gas furnace owner. Only a small proportion of people face these problems, and one way of reducing your chances of having to deal with them is simply regular gas furnace maintenance. You should have a technician over to your house every six months or even every year to give the furnace a thorough inspection and maintenance. In addition to reducing the chances of the above problems, this will also make it a lot more efficient as well.