Winter is not an easy time to be a furnace. Or a heat pump. Or a ductless mini-split. Or any type of HVAC heating system for that matter.
Losing heat suddenly during the winter can be dangerous at best and deadly at worst.
Luckily, there is a lot you can do to prevent this, even if you have an older furnace or heating system.
If you are wondering if your current HVAC heating system or furnace has what it takes to make it through one last long winter season, this is the blog post you need to read.
5 Top Reasons a Furnace Can Suddenly Fail
Preparing an older furnace to deliver another full winter’s worth of heat starts with understanding what you are up against.
This is especially critical if you have inherited an older heating system with your house and you don’t know anything about its furnace maintenance history.
So let’s spend a moment reviewing some of the top reasons a furnace will suddenly fail.
1. The inducer motor conks out.
You might have just read that and thought, “the what?” Most people know it takes a blower to power a forced air furnace. The inducer motor is far less famous but equally vital.
The inducer motor is the first thing you will hear when your furnace cycles on. This is because its job is to pull the fresh air into the combustion and heat exchanger area.
If you are hearing squeals, whines, clanks or – worse – nothing at all, the inducer motor is the likely culprit.
2. The blower motor dies.
Speaking of blower motors, the blower motor is what takes over where the inducer motor leaves off. It pushes the air out of the furnace and into your air ducts, where it travels to warm the farthest reaches of your home.
Blower motors have multiple moving parts, each of which could cause the motor, or even other components of the HVAC system, to ultimately fail.
At this point, you might be asking yourself, “How much does a new furnace cost anyway?”
But, before you start looking for a new furnace all together, there are some simple furnace maintenance tasks that you can easily catch up on. For example, your best defence against buying an expensive new blower motor is simply regular cleaning!
3. The air filter clogs.
So let’s talk about cleaning for a moment. You might be wondering “how do I get inside my furnace to clean it?”
If you do a good job of replacing the air filter before it gets clogged with dirt, you might not have to take your furnace apart to clean it out!
4. The pilot light or ignition system fails.
Older furnaces often have a real pilot light that needs to stay lit to keep the furnace working.
Unfortunately, furnaces are not always located in the easiest-to-access places inside a home. It can be difficult and dangerous to access the pilot light, clean the ignitor or flame sensor and get it lit and working again.
If the pilot light doesn’t work, even after a thorough cleaning, it could be that the flame sensor itself has failed and needs to be replaced.
5. The thermostat fails.
Thermostat failure is probably the most frustrating reason you suddenly lose heat mid-winter.
Here, there isn’t anything wrong with the mechanics of your furnace itself. Rather, the thermostat meter is in need of recalibration or replacement.
Preventative Furnace Maintenance Is Your Best Defence Against Furnace Failure
When you are living with an older furnace or heating appliance, it is likely out of warranty and you are no longer obligated by your warranty to schedule annual preventative furnace maintenance.
So why would you do so?
If the list we just reviewed didn’t already convince you, here are several more reasons.
1. Furnace safety inspections save lives.
Every year, the National Fire Protection Association comes out with another report on the cause of home fires. And every year, malfunctioning or poorly maintained HVAC heating equipment tops the list.
One of the biggest killers is silent, odourless and colourless – carbon monoxide.
Incomplete combustion releases increasing amounts of this lethal gas into your home. Do you have a carbon monoxide detector? If yes, is it working correctly?
2. Pay a little now or pay a lot later.
What if we gave you a choice: pay $100 now or pay $1,000 later to keep your furnace running all winter long? Which would you pick?
Remember the inducer motor we talked about earlier here? One of the most common reasons this pricey part fails is because animals or birds get inside and leave debris, which clogs the interior.
And as we mentioned, the blower motor is full of smaller moving parts like bearings, electrical parts, the motor itself and the capacitor. One part failing can mean the whole blower motor fails and burns out.
Trust us that replacing a bearing is far cheaper than replacing a whole blower motor!
3. The cause of failure might not even be the furnace.
Too many people each year conclude they have to buy a new furnace when all they really needed was a new fuse, a good hose flush or an indoor air duct cleaning.
How much does a new furnace cost? New furnaces can cost thousands of dollars to purchase and install! Wouldn’t you prefer to keep yours for one more winter if all it took was a little cleaning and a timely pre-winter tune-up?
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Shipton’s Heating and Cooling Takes Care of Your Furnace Maintenance in Burlington, Oakville & Hamilton Areas!
Now is the time to schedule your furnace maintenance or HVAC heating system pre-winter service and safety inspection.
This is also a great time to enroll in one of Shipton’s Heating and Cooling money and time-saving annual protection plans. We’ve built in some fabulous rewards to help you control the costs to maintain and repair an older furnace or heating system.