Furnaces naturally become less efficient over time, but if your furnace is doing a noticeably bad job this winter, this could be indicative of a problem. Knowing what it means if your furnace isn't heating well and how to fix the problem can help you maintain your furnace and keep your home warm this winter.
What does it mean if your furnace isn't heating as well as it did last winter?
If your furnace isn't heating very well, there could be a variety of reasons. For example:
- Clogged air filter. The air filter is the part of your HVAC system that cleans the air blowing through the ducts. HVAC air filters are supposed to be replaced after three months of use. The same air filter is used for the air conditioner and the furnace, which means that if your air filter wasn't replaced after using it all summer, there's a good chance that it's now clogged and your furnace is having a hard time pushing warm air through the system.
- Leaky air ducts. Air ducts can develop leaks over time. This can happen if you made upgrades to your HVAC system over the summer, or if you accidentally knocked your air ducts when you put the holiday decorations away in your attic this winter. If your air ducts have leaks, your furnace could be pushing more air into your attic than into the lower parts of your home.
- Mechanical failure. It could be that your furnace is experiencing a mechanical problem. These kinds of issues will become more common as your furnace ages. Getting a furnace tuneup at the end of every fall will help catch these problems, but if you didn't do that this year, your furnace could be experiencing a simple mechanical problem.
What can you do to fix your furnace?
The first thing you should do to fix your furnace is to check the air filter. The air filter can be found in the slot between the return air duct and the blower. To check the filter, pull it out of the slot and inspect it for dirt. If the filter is dirty, take it to a hardware store or a home improvement center and purchase a similar filter. Once you have a filter like the old filter, put the new filter into the slot and test out the furnace.
If the air filter isn't dirty, or if replacing the filter doesn't fix the problem, it's time to check your air ducts for leaks. To do this, go into your attic and check for cracks in the seams between the ducts. Also look for leaks in the spaces where the ducts connect with the wall or floor. Use foil tape to tape up any cracks you may find.
If you can find no leaks in the ducts, your furnace is likely experiencing a mechanical problem like a broken thermostat. If this is the case, contact a heater repair person in your area to inspect your furnace. Click here for more information on heater repair.