5 Common Home Heating Problems and How to Solve Them

Our heating systems are the lifeblood of our homes; keeping us warm through the cold weather and making sure we’re comfortable all year long. That’s why it’s so important that you have a good understanding of what can go wrong and what you might need to do about it.

In this article, we’re going to explain 5 of the most common heating problems that you might experience and how to solve them, so that you aren’t left shivering in the cold.

1.  It Won’t Turn On

One of the most obvious issues that you might face with your heating system is that it’s not turning on when you need it.

This often means that there is an issue with your thermostat, or a circuit breaker has been tripped. You can investigate the thermostat itself to see if it is functioning normally and take a look at your circuit breaker – but be careful about switching it back more than once.

If your circuit keeps tripping, then it is likely that there is a more significant problem that may require the help of a professional. Repeatedly switching the breaker back on again can cause the panel to overload.

2.  The Vents Are Blowing Cool Air

Another relatively common problem is that your whole system is doing the opposite of what you need – it’s blowing cool air rather than warm air out of the vents.

This is usually an issue with your pilot light or your thermocouple – or you might not have the thermostat set to the right temperature. Check whether the gas valve is on, and the gas is flowing as normal, and ensure that your thermostat is actually set correctly. Also, use the “auto” setting rather than “fan on” so that it isn’t just blowing unheated air around.

Newer systems typically use electronic ignition rather than a traditional pilot light, and the sensors can get dirty which will prevent them from functioning properly. You can give these sensors a clean, but they may need to be replaced entirely.

3.  You Smell Burning When You Turn It On

If you get a burning smell when you switch your heating system on, that is obviously alarming. However, if it happens the first time you switch the furnace on after a long break, it might just be the result of dust accumulating inside. It could also mean that you have a dirty air filter.

Turn the system off if you smell burning and inspect it carefully. Clean away any dust and replace the filter if necessary, then investigate for any signs of smoke or damage.

If the smell persists, you should keep the furnace switched off and call a specialist to assess the problem.

4.  Inconsistent Heating

You might also notice that some areas of the home are being heated normally, while others don’t seem to be getting the same amount of warmth. This can be a sign of a number of different problems within your system.

It could be a leak or an issue with the ductwork, your air filter may need replacing, or there might be a failure in the belts, bearing, or fan motor. While you can replace an air filter by yourself without too much trouble, ductwork problems and system failures should be fixed by a professional.

5.  Mold

Your heating system is probably the last place in the house where you would expect to see mold – but it is actually a relatively common occurrence. Particularly in humid climates, moisture can easily build up in many different parts of the system and lead to mold growth, which can be a significant health issue.

The heating system blows air all over your home, and it will spread mold spores into the air as well.

You will generally need to call in a technician to clean out your whole system if mold is present, and you may need to improve the insulation around the system and check for leaks in the ductwork as well. Replacing your filters regularly and getting a professional clean every few years will help to stop the mold from coming back.

How Can I Fix My Heating System?

If you’re struggling with a problem and you aren’t confident about the solution, it’s usually best to call in the professionals. A quality furnace repair service is always going to be a worthwhile investment, and they can help to solve even the most challenging of heating issues.

Including the issues mentioned above, you might need the help of a repair service for your furnace if:

  • It has weak airflow
  • It won’t turn on
  • It’s making unusual sounds
  • It’s blowing cold air
  • Water is collecting around it
  • It keeps turning on and off

While there are a number of faults, errors, and general maintenance tasks that are relatively simple to tackle on your own, furnaces are fundamentally complicated and dangerous pieces of kit.

If there are problems with any area that is related to gas distribution, ignition, or electricals (like your ductwork, wiring, or the valve itself) then you should always trust a licensed technician to take care of it. Leaks and unexpected fires are a significant risk when you’re dealing with a furnace, and trying to tamper with the complex parts of your system can be very dangerous.

How Can I Keep My Furnace Working?

Proper furnace maintenance is really important, particularly leading up to the wintertime – when it is likely that you have not used your system for a while. You should make sure that none of the ducts, wires, or pipework are loose, the flame sensor and interior are relatively clean and dust-free, and the filter is not dirty.

It’s always a good idea to have an annual check-up by a heating system professional to give yourself some peace of mind. In fact, many furnace warranties require you to get a check-up at least once a year.

Summary: Common Home Heating Problems and How to Solve Them

There are a number of home heating problems that are pretty common, and most have a relatively simple fix. You might be able to fix some issues yourself, by checking your thermostat settings, cleaning your sensors and the interior of your furnace, or replacing your air filters.

Ultimately, though, many issues can only be safely and reliably resolved by a professional. Your heating system is one area of the house where you really don’t want to be cutting corners, and it’s always a relief to know that it’s definitely in full working order for when the cold weather comes.