Our support system for the winter
As the chilly temperatures of winter make our nights and mornings frigid, we admittedly rely on our furnaces to keep us at the cozy temperatures we feel most comfortable. A furnace like any other piece of hardware, needs upkeep and has multiple components that its owner should be aware of, not only for longevity of the unit, but safety of the home as well. We often use it as a crutch during our cold seasons, but there is natural wear and tear that a furnace goes through in order to provide us that comfort. The typical life of a furnace is projected to be somewhere from 10-15 years. The reason that the range is so large (the high end is 50% higher than the low end), is because of the upkeep. Unit maintenance is one of the best ways to make sure the life of your unit reaches the higher end. We’ll take a look at the components of a furnace to give you some insight into the function of separate pieces, so that you can have a little better understanding of what could be going wrong with your furnace if you do run into trouble.
What is a furnace made of?
There are quite a bit of components that make up your household furnace. Different pieces can lead to different issues – some more serious than others so its important we understand the relationship of each of them to the overall functionality of your unit.
- Burner – This is where the fire comes from, powered by natural gas (most of the time). The effectiveness of the burner is managed by the flame sensor, as it pulls the gas from the gas line and combines with oxygen to make the fire. It is important to be aware of the status of your burner at all times.
- Flame sensor – The flame sensor is a critical component to the safety of your home, as it detects and ensures that the flame is working properly. The sensor also manages the the gas output of the furnace, as it will shut off if there is no heat. If the heater is releasing gas with no flame, it opens up the danger of carbon monoxide hazards in your home so it is critical to be aware of your sensor.
- Blower/Fan – A blower pushes air to the heat exchanger and throughout the HVAC system. It sends air throughout your ducts and various rooms. The blower’s impact is relatively self explanatory and it is easier to watch and be aware of.
- Heat Exchanger – The heat exchanger is the main player that provides warm air into your home. It takes the gasses & heat that are created from the burner and converts them from their relatively harmful/poisonous state and sends that heat to the air from the filter out.
- Ignition System – Ignition systems are more commonly part of newer furnaces, as the older ones used pilot lights instead. The pilot light was replaced because it constantly used up gas even when the furnace wasn’t being used, and was subject to be blown out by a draft of air. Newer electronic ignition systems are simply more efficient and don’t need as much maintenance, but is still a pivotal piece to the furnace.
- Air Filter – A key component of any HVAC system, as it keeps the dust and debris out of the air that is distributed throughout the home. The filter is certainly the easiest part of the furnace that the end user can keep up to date and clean.
- Return Register – Typically these are the air vents where the cold air resides. The return register sends the cold air back to the heating system to be redistributed as warm air.
- Combustion Chamber – This is where the fuel and air mix together to create a controlled flame. The burner, flame sensor, flames, and ignition system reside here.
- Thermostat – The main communicator between the end user and the unit. This is where you set your temperatures, and manage the overall usage of the furnace.
Common Furnace Issues – What You Should Look For
Thermostat issues – When the thermostat has issues, your fan within your furnace is having issues turning on or is constantly running. It’s essentially like having a broken controller for your unit – which means that the battery will be running and the furnace overall will be operating inefficiently.
Dirty/Clogged Filters – Filters are one of the most important gateways throughout the heating and cooling system. When they do their job correctly, they are picking up all the debris and dust that exists within the vents and the HVAC system. This does mean that they need to be checked and cleaned regularly. If they get clogged, it can cascade into multiple issues with your heating. Fortunately it is an easy fix and doesn’t always need a professional to maintain. If you are uncomfortable accessing it or maintaining it, you can certainly call a professional, but this is something you can handle on your own.
Oddly Colored Ignition System – If your pilot light or ignition system is flickering or oddly colored such as yellow, that means that there is a carbon monoxide leak in your system. This is definitely one of the more serious issues that you can run into with your furnace that will require a technician to fix.
Frequent Cycling – If your furnace is constantly turning on and off, it can stem from clogged filters, bad airflow, or the unit being overworked. This typically leads to an inefficient usage of power and increased energy bills. The above conditions should all be checked if your furnace is running into this issue, as it is more a symptom of the other parts not being taken care of.
Damaged Heat Exchanger – As we explained above, the heat exchanger is an extremely important component of your furnace. If it gets damaged or cracked, it is a pretty costly expense because you are at the mercy of getting a new part. This happens when the home is over heated or the filter is not managed/replaced appropriately.
Be Ready for the Winter With Omni Air
We hope that what we went over today will have you prepped for all the scenarios where your furnace could be having issues and have you ready to act on those issues. Getting a deeper understanding of your components will help you have a more precise idea of how severe your issue can be, and whether you need to reach out to a technician or not. We here at Omni Air want to equip you for the scenarios that don’t always need our help, but at the same time have you equipped to use us as your helping hand for those more complex issues. As a top rated contractor in Orange & LA counties, we are ready to get you comfy and cozy this winter. Looking to avoid an emergency visit? Take a look at our year round maintenance options to not only have you covered for winter but for summer as well, at a price that is a fraction of what it would cost to have an emergency fix to your system.