The central heating unit performs one of the essential roles in keeping the houses sustainable and their temperatures in control.
However, when things go wrong, this can be a nuisance for you and your family.
Before you dive deeper into what should be fixed within a system, it’s essential to know what’s inside, and which parts are likely to cause any issues or troubles.
Some of the essential parts are ducts, dampers, filters, and supply registers.
Some of the most common symptoms of a dysfunctional central heating unit are as under:
- Is your heating unit blowing cold air?
- Does one room feel colder than the other?
- Is your filter causing some noise (because of some blockage)?
- Are the blowers working or even spinning the way it used to?
- Are the electrical components (thermostat, fuse or circuit breakers) getting too hot?
If so, we might have some useful tips and advice that can help your heating system get back on track, and can warm up the room the way it used to.
Steps To Troubleshoot Your Central Heating Unit
These are some of the best helpful steps that you can undertake. We’ll take this step by step – from the simple things that could go wrong and work our way up from there.
Step 1: Check Your Thermostat Setting
Replace your batteries on your programmable thermostat, then set your thermostat at least ten degrees warmer than the indoor temperature to get a clear gauge that your heating system is operating properly.
Step 2: Test your Thermostat’s Accuracy with Another Temperature Gauge
If they do not match, your thermostat may be out of calibration and needs to be reset. To do so, reference the manufacturer’s instructions.
Step 3: Check The Power To Your Unit
A circuit breaker may be tripped. In that case, flip the switch. This should not happen often.
If it does, you should consult a licensed HVAC technician. Also, check the master switches – both in your inside and outside units, and make sure both are on and receiving electricity.
You can usually identify this by an LED light. If there isn’t any, you may use a testing screwdriver
Step 4: Press Your Heater’s Reset Button.
Some of the modern central heating unit have a reset button. Find out if yours has one.
By resetting the unit, it can clear some of the minor mechanical issues that may cause the system to act irregularly.
Step 5: Go to the Heater Return Vent and Change Your Filter
Dirt restricts airflow and can cause problems and impact the temperature of your home. As a rule of thumb, change the filter of your home every month.
Some of the filters may survive for around six months as well, but then it depends on your usage and the quality of the filter that you are installing in your system.
Step 6: Make Sure None Of Your Central Heating Vents Are Blocked
Make sure that nothing obstructs the heating vents – and this includes drapes and furniture.
It can restrict airflow and can impact on the room’s temperature.
This can also impede the efficiency of the heater and can decline its overall performance.
Step 7: Check Your Ignitor/ Pilot Lights
Central heating units run by gas or propane via an electronic ignitor or pilot light may fail to light up if the system is unable to pass on the spark to the pilot, or the electrical connection is broken or loose at some end.
In case you can verify that the thermostat has power and that it is operational, and the heat doesn’t come on after setting the thermostat, you’ll need to reset the gas valve inside the unit.
Give it around five minutes to cool down, before turning it back on again.
If this doesn’t reset the lighter, check that the gas supply is on and flowing in seamlessly. If it doesn’t work, then you might have to refer to a technical expert.
Step 8: Check the Fuse:
If nothing else works, the last thing you might want to check is the blown fuse.
Replacing the fuse is relatively easy, and you do it at your home by replacing the blown fuse with a new one.
However, if that doesn’t seem to work for you either, then it’s time for you to call in a qualified technical professional.
Do You Need A HVAC Technician?
If your system still lags despite following all of the steps as mentioned above, it likely needs servicing.
When choosing a heating and cooling company, it’s essential that you employ someone who is licensed, highly trained, and background checked.
Considering that the technicians come to your home, it would be nice if the technician is well groomed, honest, polite and informative, and is willing to give you options on how to improve your comfort.
To keep your costs down and to ensure that you are working on the specific issue at hand, make sure that you are able to identify and isolate the problem, pay attention to what can be fixed and look into what can be done about it.
A little attention to the underlying issues and having the courage to resolve them can save you not only some money but also steer clear you the trouble of calling up the professionals (and sometimes haggling with them).
A word of caution though. Certain home improvement projects are dangerous by nature and may present risks of severe injury or fatality if not done with precaution.
When in doubt, always refer to the instruction manual or safety manual before proceeding to undertake any such task.
Consult a qualified professional or expert if you are not experienced enough to handle the task on your own.
For electrical work, always follow the electrical code requirements specific to your area and machine.
Before undertaking any home project, contact your local electrical authority and ensure that you comply with all the applicable rules and regulations.
Central heating systems are usually overlooked since they keep on performing without any significant problems or issues for an extended period.
However, like any home appliance, a central heating unit requires regular maintenance and care to run smoothly.
They are a source of great comfort, and in a medium to a large house, they provide great utility and health advantages as compared to their counterparts.
Like all climate-controlled devices, a central heating unit is comprised of three basic units: a source of fresh air, a means of regulating the temperature (i.e., a thermostat), and a distribution system.
The sources of warm air often use the same distribution system: the ducts – the temperature of which is controlled by a thermostat.
If your house central heating system malfunctions, any of these components may be responsible for the erratic operations.
The heating systems need fuel to burn which can be provisioned through compressed gas or electricity.
The heat pump, an electrically powered climate unit, heats and pumps the air into the room.
When the unit is turned on, it burns/ utilizes the fuel which is provided to it, and as it burns it heats the cold air which is pumped into the unit and in turn delivers heated air back into the room, via ducts or pipes, and is blown out through registers, radiators or heating panels.
Older systems use boilers – a unit composed of pipes which heat the water supply, which then runs through the walls, floor, and the ceiling.
Types Of Central Heating Systems
No matter which system of central heating unit you have, they work on one primary principle: warm up the air and distribute it across the house through the house via one of these three major ways: radiation, forced air or gravity.
We’ll go through each one of them step by step.
An electric powered fan, also known as the blower, acts as the primary source of heat distributor across the heating unit.
Once the furnace produces the heat, it is spread across the system of metal ducts to your rooms.
While this process is going on, the colder air from your room is also extracted and moved towards the heating furnace so that it can be warmed up.
The system is usually adjustable, and you can adjust the amount of heat being pulled in and out of the system at your own will.
There may be a few issues with the blowers in the forced air system.
Since they act as a pivotal point for all the heat distribution, the added pressure of trafficking the heat across the household can be a bit too much for them to handle.
Moreover, they can be a bit noisy and can demand a lot of power (in addition to the fuel) which makes it a bit too expensive to handle.
On the other hand, a forced-air system is somewhat more effective than the others as it channels the heat throughout the house while ensuring a uniform and a seamless air flow.
The gravity-based system thrives on the idea that cold air is relatively denser and hence it sinks, whereas the hot air rises.
In a gravity-based system, the furnace is located on the floor or under it.
As the air is warmed up, it rises through the unit and releases it from the ducts or registers situated on the top of the heating system.
In case the furnace is located at the bottom of the main floor of the house, then the register should be situated near the edge of the ceilings so that the warm air can pass through the top.
The cold air can then pass through the air ducts and is reheated by the furnace so that the cycle can continue further.
Radiant or Radiation Based System:
As the name suggests, radiant systems work by warming up the walls, floors, and ceilings of the room via radiators.
They are warmed up by the electrical heating systems connected to them.
They are suitable for places where the climate is relatively warm, or electricity is relatively cheap.
To boost up the efficiency, they are usually used in combination with hot water heating systems.
They are generally dependent on a circular pump which circulates heated water from the boilers or radiators.
The system is referred to as the hydronic system, as it deploys a water-based distribution system.
In the modern-day system, the pipes are complimented with a concrete slab foundation, where a network of hot water pipes lay underneath the concrete floor or ceiling.
When the concrete is warmed up, it warms up the air inside the closed system.
The temperature would continue to rise until the heat is uniformly distributed as per the temperature indicated on the thermostat.
Radiant based systems are prone to some issues though. Since the system relies primarily on gravity and hydronic-based distribution system, the pipes can get clogged or jammed with mineral deposits or may get defected in the longer run.
In case that happens, it can be a menace to identify the issue and fix the pipes. Moreover, the system also has the problem of energy efficiency and efficacy, since quite a lot of energy is consumed or wasted in the heat sink during the heating process.
Therefore, radiant based system have lost popularity and are seldom installed in the new infrastructures.
The modern-day heating systems deploy state of the art, solid state electronic for moderating and controlling the temperature.
Despite being a little more expensive than the older system, they are much easier to maintain and deploy.
Besides, they are typically more accurate and responsive as compared to older systems.
Prior to making any changes, troubleshooting the system or deploying a new central heating unit, it is essential that you understand how your system is built altogether.
It would be worthwhile to explore and invest some time with an expert to examine the pros and cons of each of the system, and how you can fix and maintain the most common issues when they arise.
We hope that this helps you make a better and a more informed choice when you’re making one.