Three Reasons Your Furnace Breaks on the First Cycle of the Season

With summer coming to an end, a certain cool and crisp feeling has entered the air. It’s fall, and the time for running our air conditioners is all but over for the year. Before long, it will be heating season and many homeowners just like you will be firing up their furnaces to stay warm through the frigid and chilly weather. However, many homeowners will also experience one of the most frustrating problems with this transition: furnace breakdowns.

Furnaces are more likely to break down during their first cycle of the season, and this can cause some pretty serious headaches for anyone who has to deal with the problem. But why does this happen and can you prevent or at least lower the chances of a serious issue during the first cycle of the season? Here are three reasons why this happens as well as a few tips for preventing it.

Your Air Filter is Dirty

When was the last time you changed your HVAC air filter? A month ago? A few months ago? Last spring? Last year? Even longer? If you’re like the majority of homeowners, one of the latter two options is most likely the truth. People don’t change their air filter nearly often enough, and that isn’t a great habit when you consider that the overwhelming majority of furnace breakdowns can be attributed at least partially to a dirty air filter.

A clogged air filter can cause so many issues. It restricts airflow, which limits the amount of heat that can spread throughout your home and places extra strain on your heat exchanger unit. It reduces energy efficiency, leading to a lot of waste and high utility bills that are frustrating to deal with. A dirty air filter also causes dust and debris in your heat exchanger to burn, resulting in some nasty odors and potential damage to your HVAC system as a whole. If you want to avoid the hassle of your HVAC system quitting on you, change your air filter every three to four months and you will notice a significant difference in your air quality and comfort all year long.

Your Heat Exchanger Is Cracked

For gas and oil-burning furnaces, a heat exchanger is a vital part of the warming cycle for your home. When fuel burns, it produces heat and exhaust fumes that contain carbon dioxide, carbon monoxide, and many other gasses you probably don’t want to be released into your home’s atmosphere. The heat exchanger’s job is to imbue the air that circulates throughout your home with the heat you want while keeping the exhaust fumes separated so they can easily vent out of your exhaust system. However, because materials tend to fatigue with heating and cooling cycles and corrosion leads to weak spots over time, heat exchangers can and do eventually crack.

A cracked heat exchanger is not only horrible for energy efficiency, but it is also a massive source of carbon monoxide leaks. Carbon monoxide is a dangerous gas that is colorless, odorless, and tasteless, making it nearly impossible for the average person to detect. This is why we always recommend a carbon monoxide detector near your furnace unit so you can take action should anything go wrong. Likewise, we strongly recommend having your furnace inspected at the start of the heating season in order to make sure your heat exchanger is in good shape and free from cracks or signs that a crack may develop soon.

Your Furnace Hasn’t Been Maintained

Much the same way you wouldn’t drive your car without regularly changing your oil, you also shouldn’t run your furnace without keeping it in good condition through professional maintenance. A professional tune-up service ensures your furnace is ready to go at the start of the season by cleaning important components, checking vital parts, and making sure everything functions properly. This not only reduces energy consumption during each heating cycle but also reduces the chances of your furnace quitting on you when you need it the most.

Think about it this way: when you haven’t moved a muscle for a long time, moving it again for the first time is often a painful and stiff experience. This is pretty much true for your furnace as well—having sat idle for months, there are unquestionably some pains and aches it needs to get over. Maintenance is sort of like a small massage and stretching regimen that gets the muscle ready for use again, thus preventing the pain, increasing energy, and allowing you to enjoy a better and more functional system throughout the season.

Schedule a tune-up for your furnace or any other type of heating equipment today! Call the team at A-TEMP Heating, Cooling & Electrical at (503) 694-3396 today.