Common Heating Problems and What You Can Do
However warm Florida winters may be, they’re still cold enough for many of us to turn on our air conditioning. And who wants to see their HVAC break down or malfunction just as a cold spell is settling in? With proper care, maintenance, and prevention, most of the problems can be avoided. However, just in case you’re one of the many who never got around to doing their fall repairs and maintenance, here are some of the most common heating problems and what you can do about them.
Your Most Common Heating Problems, Explained
The HVAC won’t turn on
Most likely explanation: This is one of the most common heating problems for systems that have been working too long with little or no maintenance. However, it is a hard issue to diagnose – it could be an electrical wiring problem, a broken thermostat or limit switch, a defective fan or sensor.
What to do: Reset the controls and try turning everything off and on again. Don’t try for too long, though, just so you don’t overheat the wiring and create a fire hazard. Resort to specialized help as soon as you’ve done a basic reset.
The HVAC won’t turn off
Most likely explanation: A faulty command, a physical wear-and-tear problem or a faulty limit switch.
What to do: First check that your HVAC unit is set to “auto” – this should instruct it to turn off automatically once the desired temperature is reached. If this does not work, however, check the wires and cables to make sure there is no physical or mechanical failure along the electrical circuit. If you do not spot a problem, reset the thermostat. Still nothing? You may have a bad limit switch, in which case you should call a local specialist.
The thermostat isn’t working properly
Most likely explanation: A thermostat malfunction is a common heating problem that could be caused by a number of factors, from dust or corrosion to low batteries or a faulty command.
What to do: Remove the cover and check the settings. Is the thermostat on Auto? If the correct setting doesn’t fix the problem, try looking for signs of corrosion, check the level to make sure it gets the correct reading, and try replacing the batteries. If none of these solutions can fix the problem, ask the HVAC specialist.
The AC blows cold air instead of hot
Most likely explanation: The thermostat settings may not be correct. However, if that is not the problem, it is likely one of the more complex heating issues is at play: a faulty compressor, low refrigerant charge, a bad reversing or compressor valve.
What to do: Make sure the thermostat is set to Auto. If that doesn’t fix the problem, call a specialist – there is, most likely, nothing you can do.
There is a burning smell coming from the HVAC unit
Most likely explanation: It could be one of the most common heating problems – in fact, not a problem at all. Just like a toaster that hasn’t been used in a while, the first time you put an electric coil to work, it will simply burn residual dust. Nothing to be afraid of, then. However, depending on when it happens and for how long, it may be the sign of a clogged filter – or of a much more serious heating issue.
What to do: If the smell persists beyond a few minutes, or if it comes after repeated use in AC heating mode, turn off your HVAC system altogether and call your best, fastest-moving local HVAC specialist.
Electricity bills are too high
Most likely explanation: The most common heating problems are usually caused by improper maintenance or heat leaks. In this case, it’s possible filters haven’t been cleaned in a while; ducts are clogged; refrigerant is leaking somewhere; you have a malfunctioning compressor, or there is heat loss somewhere in the house.
What to do: Try everything at once. You can’t afford to wait a month and see if it was just the filters, or maybe a bit of the others too, or the compressor is sluggish. Change the filters, check the refrigerant, do the best you can if you know how. For better, safer results, however, always resort to specialized help.
The house is unevenly heated
Most likely explanation: No, it’s not because there is a heat leak (the HVAC would just work harder to compensate for the leak). It might be simply poor airflow or a dirty AC filter, or much worse – the fan motor may be malfunctioning or there might be clogged ducts.
What to do: First make sure it’s not just a matter of downstairs/upstairs. Since hot air rises, the upper floors will always be warmer than the ground floor. If that’s the case, set the thermostat to on or just set different temperatures, if you can. If that’s not it, best case scenario, you need to change the filters in the area that isn’t properly heated. Other than that, there isn’t much you could do beyond calling your HVAC specialist.
Whatever your heating problems or general questions, give us a call. We’re true HVAC professionals of long-standing experience and great reputation, but we are also your neighbors. We’ll be glad to assist you anywhere in the Tampa Bay region!