Another Ontario winter is in full swing!
Here at Shipton’s Heating and Cooling in Hamilton, we can tell because of the kinds of phone calls we are receiving on a daily basis.
A full 90 percent of our daily calls are about troubleshooting heating systems that are not producing any heat!
A boiler that isn’t producing any heat or hot water. A furnace that isn’t producing any hot air. A fireplace that isn’t starting any warm, cozy winter fires.
These are the calls that keep our Shipton’s heating technicians working all day and all night (thanks to our popular 24/7 emergency furnace repair service, which you can read more about here below).
In this article, we give you our “top 7” furnace repair issues and some tips for troubleshooting each. Remember, many of these also fall under the header, “don’t try this at home.” If you need help, Shipton’s heating technicians are only a phone call away!
1. Inconsistent Heating
Inconsistent heating can mean several things. Sometimes, you may notice that one room seems warmer than the others. At other times, you may feel like the heat is less hot than your thermostat indicates it should be.
Just as there can be many underlying issues that contribute to inconsistent heating (faulty duct routing, thermostat malfunction, clogged air filter) there can also be a number of repairs required to restore proper function.
It is also worth mentioning that a furnace, like any major appliance, has a life expectancy. A high quality, well-maintained furnace may last 15+ years. After that time has elapsed, however, all bets are off!
2. Low Fan Speed
Determining optimal fan speed settings can be more complicated than manufacturer manuals typically make it out to be.
The proper fan speed setting for your furnace will depend on its capacity (rated in BTUs), intake mechanism (natural draft, 80 percent, induced draft, etc), fan type (constant speed, variable speed), motor horsepower rating and other variables.
However, it isn’t always a setting issue when your furnace has low fan speed. If you’ve inherited a furnace from your home’s prior owner, you may have no idea when (or if) your furnace received a simple cleaning and preventative maintenance service.
Many of our Shipton’s heating customers are genuinely shocked when we tell them the airflow was low because the air filter was clogged with dust!
3. Clogged Furnace Filter
Speaking of dust, the lowly furnace air filter rarely receives proper credit for the heavy lifting it does to keep your furnace pushing out heat.
The typical residential air filter isn’t designed to boost air quality inside your space. It is designed to keep dirt, dust and debris out of your furnace.
Just as you reliably feel worse when you inhale toxins into your lungs (something 2020 has made all too clear to us!), so too will your furnace perform less optimally when its insides get dirty.
This happens because the furnace filter gets so full of debris it can’t hold any more. Some of the trapped detritus gets pushed into the internal components with every cycle. Over time, this can lead directly to a home fire.
4. Unusual Odour
Like “new car smell,” there can be something rather comforting about that dry, dusty burning odour your furnace gives off during its first cycle of the winter season.
Aaaahhhhhh….heat is on its way.
But if that odour doesn’t burn off very quickly (like within one to two initial cycles) it is time to get worried!
Burning is just one of many unpleasant or at least noticeable odours a furnace can produce. Here, just know that your furnace shouldn’t smell. And it definitely shouldn’t stink!
So, if you smell anything at all, it’s definitely time to go hunting for mold, mildew, gas leaks, scorched electrical wires, carbon monoxide emissions and more.
5. Thermostat Issues
Thermostat issues can be as simple as neglected calibration or even a dead battery (for battery-powered screens).
When the thermostat is sending the wrong instructions to your furnace, however, the output you get won’t be what you thought you ordered.
6. Uncleaned Air Ducts
When you know your furnace air filter is clean and you have troubleshooted to eliminate all the other usual suspects for furnace odours, the next place to look is always going to be inside your air ducts.
Mould, mildew and dirt buildup are the most common issues that our sister company, CleanAir Solutions Hamilton, encounters on our weekly professional indoor air duct cleaning appointments.
7. Cracked Vent Pipes
Cracked vent pipes, or furnace exhaust pipes, have a vital job to do in venting gases and toxins away from your home space.
Over time and sometimes due to faulty installation or improper sizing, these pipes can develop cracks. This is always going to be an emergency situation. Often the first sign is a strange odour or small water leaks that recur with each furnace cycle.
Get $25 Off Our Popular 24/7 Emergency Repair Service
Around here, January annually is known as “furnace outage month.” It is very cold and so of course your furnace is working overtime. This is the month when small problems can become big unpleasant surprise outages!
All month long, get $25 off any furnace, boiler or fireplace repair at Shipton’s Heating in Hamilton.
And be sure to add our 24/7 emergency repair phone hotline, 289-203-4616, to your contacts just in case!
Contact Shipton’s for Expert Hamilton, Ontario HVAC Service
Our knowledgeable, friendly technicians here at Shipton’s Heating & Cooling can service, repair and install all furnace makes and models. We now offer safe contactless service, invoicing and payment options!
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