If your home is anything like ours, the air conditioning runs non-stop during summer. So when something goes wrong with our HVAC system, it can be a real pain. To help you out, we’ve put together a list of troubleshooting tips for common HVAC problems. Hopefully, this will help you get your system up and running again in no time!
HVAC Basics: An Overview
Whether you’re a new homeowner or you’ve been in your home for years, it’s essential to understand the basics of your home’s HVAC system. Here’s a quick overview of what you need to know:
- Your HVAC system includes all the mechanical and electrical components used to heat, ventilate, and air condition your home.
- The three main parts of your HVAC system are the furnace, air conditioner, and ductwork.
- Your furnace produces heat by burning natural gas, propane, oil, or electricity.
- Your air conditioner cools your home by circulating refrigerant through a closed-loop system.
- Ductwork is a series of metal or plastic pipes that distributes heat or cool air throughout your home.
- You can control the temperature in your home with a thermostat.
The Most Common HVAC Problems
As a homeowner, you know that things go wrong with your property from time to time. No matter how well you take care of your home, there are always going to be repairs that need to be made. One of the most common problems that homeowners face is HVAC issues.
If you’re having trouble with your HVAC system, there are a few troubleshooting tips that you can try before you call a professional. Below are some of the most common HVAC problems and their solutions:
- If your furnace doesn’t turn on, check to ensure that there is the power to the unit and that the pilot light is lit. If the pilot light is not lit, you may need to replace the igniter.
- If your furnace doesn’t stay on, it could be because the thermostat is not set correctly. Try adjusting the thermostat and see if that solves the problem.
- If your furnace is blowing cold air, it could be because the filter is dirty. Try replacing the filter and see if that helps.
- If your air conditioner isn’t cooling correctly, ensure that the coils are clean and that there is no ice buildup on them. You may also want to check the Freon level and ensure it is correct.
HVAC Maintenance Tips
Most people take their HVAC system for granted—that is, until it stops working. Proper maintenance can help prevent many issues from occurring in the first place. Homeowners should take the time to learn about their system and how it works to keep it running smoothly for as long as possible.
Here are a few tips to help you keep your HVAC system in top shape:
- Replace your air filter regularly. This is one of the simplest things you can do to maintain your system, but it’s also one of the most important. A dirty air filter will restrict airflow and make your system work harder than it needs to, which can lead to premature breakdowns. Depending on your filter type, you should replace it every 1-3 months.
- Keep an eye on your energy bills. If you notice a sudden spike in your energy usage, it could indicate that your HVAC system is not operating as efficiently as it should be. This could be due to several factors, such as a dirty air filter or a refrigerant leak.
- Schedule annual preventative maintenance appointments. Even if everything seems to be working fine, having your HVAC system inspected and serviced by a professional at least once per year is essential. This will help ensure that any potential problems are caught early before they have a chance to cause severe damage.
HVAC Troubleshooting Tips
No matter how new or old your home is, you will run into some HVAC problems sooner or later. It could be something as simple as a noisy furnace or a drafty window or a more serious issue like a broken air conditioner. Either way, it’s essential to know how to troubleshoot the problem so you can fix it as quickly as possible.
Here are some common HVAC problems and their solutions:
- Noisy furnace – if your furnace makes strange noises, it could be due to a loose component. Tighten any screws or bolts that may be loose. If that doesn’t solve the problem, you may need to replace parts of the furnace, such as the blower motor or fan belt.
- Drafty windows – if you feel a draft coming from your windows, it’s likely due to cracks or gaps around the window frame. Caulking and weather-stripping can usually fix the problem.
- Broken air conditioner – if your air conditioner isn’t working properly, there could be many issues causing the problem. First, check to see if the thermostat is set correctly. If it is, the issue could be with the air conditioner itself, and you may need to call a repairman.
- Clogged air filter – a clogged air filter can restrict airflow and cause your HVAC system to work harder than necessary. Simply replacing the filter should solve the problem.
When to Call a Professional
There are a few key signs that it’s time to call a professional to help with your HVAC system. If you’ve tried all the tips in this guide and you’re still having trouble, or if you notice any of the following, it’s time to call for help:
- The system is more than 10 years old
- There is mold or mildew growth around the unit
- The unit is making strange noises
- You see water pooling around the unit
- There is excessive dust or pollen in your home
HVAC Efficiency Tips
If your heating and cooling system works overtime, it might be time for a tune-up. HVAC maintenance can seem like a never-ending task, but you can do some simple things to keep your system running efficiently.
- Check and clean your air filters monthly.
- Vacuum around registers and baseboards to remove dust buildup.
- Inspect your ductwork for leaks and seal any gaps with mastic sealant or metal tape.
- Have your HVAC system serviced by a professional at least once a year.
- Keep the area around your outdoor unit clear of debris and vegetation.
- Replace old, inefficient windows and doors with energy-efficient models.
- Install weatherstripping or caulk around openings to seal air leaks
HVAC Safety Tips
While your furnace is a fantastic piece of equipment that keeps your family warm and cozy all winter long, it’s important to remember that it is also a potential safety hazard. Every year, there are thousands of fires caused by furnaces, many of which could have been prevented with little knowledge and vigilance. Below are some tips to help keep you and your family safe this winter.
- Don’t use your oven to heat your home. This is a common cause of house fires.
- Check your smoke and carbon monoxide detectors regularly and replace the batteries as needed.
- If you have a gas furnace, make sure there is proper ventilation.
- Has your furnace been serviced by a qualified technician at least once a year?
FAQs about HVAC Systems
Q: Why is my HVAC system blowing cold air?
A: There are several possible reasons for this problem. One possibility is that the thermostat is set to “cool” instead of “heat.” Another possibility is that the thermostat’s temperature setting is too low. If neither of these is the problem, it could be that the furnace switch is turned off or that the furnace filter is clogged.
Q: Why is my HVAC system not blowing any air?
A: This could be caused by several different issues. One possibility is that the thermostat is not turned on. Another possibility is that the fuse has blown or there is a tripped circuit breaker. It could also be that the blower motor is not working properly.
Q: My HVAC system seems to be running all the time – why?
A: There are several possible reasons for this issue. One possibility is that the thermostat setting is too low. Another possibility is leaking in the ductwork or around doors and windows, causing cool air to escape and forcing the system to run longer than necessary to maintain the desired temperature.
If you’re having trouble with your HVAC system, following these troubleshooting tips may help you resolve the issue without needing to call a professional.
Glossary of HVAC Terms
Air Handler: The indoor part of your HVAC system contains the fan and coil.
BTU (British Thermal Unit): The heat required to raise the temperature of one pound of water by one degree Fahrenheit.
Compressor: The part of your air conditioner or heat pump that circulates refrigerant and transfers heat.
Condenser: The part of your air conditioner or heat pump that releases heat to the outside air.
If you’re having trouble with your furnace or air conditioner or have questions about your HVAC system, there are plenty of resources available to help. Here are a few of the most helpful:
- Your local utility company’s website: Many utility companies have online information about energy efficiency and HVAC systems.
- The Department of Energy’s website: The Department of Energy has a wealth of information about HVAC systems, energy efficiency, and more.
- Your local hardware store: Many hardware stores have knowledgeable staff about HVAC systems and can provide advice on products and repairs.
- Your local library: Libraries often have books and other resources that can be helpful when troubleshooting HVAC problems.