Four Ways To Test And Troubleshoot Your Heater Before Winter
Inspecting and testing your furnace before winter gives you a chance to spot problems early on and make sure they're fixed before you need your heater most. Certain sounds, smells, and operational behaviors can result from minor to more serious issues that need to be addressed before you use your heater for long periods of time.
Clean and Inspect Before Running
After several months of not running, your furnace will likely be a little dirty, and this debris can cause foul odors or damage some components. Before you start running your furnace, give it a quick inspection to look for any obvious signs of trouble and to make sure any debris is cleared away from it. You can safely use a vacuum or pressurized air to remove dust and dirt without damaging any delicate parts.
Check for Strange Noises and Smells
Once you turn on your furnace, listen to make sure it's operating smoothly. Certain sounds can indicate issues that need attention. For example, banging sounds could mean that some parts of your ducts aren't properly secured, or that the burner is dirty and needs to be cleaned. Shrieking or scraping sounds often point to parts like motors or bearings that are wearing down and need to be replaced immediately.
Likewise, while the smell of burning dust is normal after turning on your heater for the first time, other odors could point to problems. One common issue is the smell of burning plastic, smoke, or even a fishy odor. These usually indicate that the protective seal on the wires is overheating and melting, and it should be repaired immediately before further use.
Let it Run
If everything seems fine at the initial startup, let your furnace run for a while to check for any longer-term problems. For example, if your furnace shuts off too soon, there could be an issue with one of its parts, such as a failing capacitor or a dirty thermocouple.
If the breaker trips, especially if it happens more than once, there could be a more serious issue with the furnace's electric circuit. Since electrical issues can quickly become dangerous, shut off your heater if you notice this problem and make an appointment with a technician before you use your heater again.
Check Filters and Batteries
Finally, to make sure you've covered your bases, make sure you've installed a clean air filter, and, if necessary, replaced the batteries in your thermostat. A dirty filter can restrict airflow and cause your furnace to overheat and shut down. Even if your batteries have plenty of power left, it's still worth checking the terminals for any signs of corrosion, which can happen if they have been left to sit for long periods of time.
For more information, contact a local heating repair service.