Chapter 4: Most Common HVAC Problems

Commonly HVAC problems can often be remedied by regular maintenance and a service call to a technician. Understanding the problems your equipment can encounter and how you can fix them can keep your HVAC system running smoothly. Learn about common HVAC issues and how to diagnose HVAC problems to keep your system in the best condition possible.

10 Common HVAC Issues

HVAC systems can run into numerous issues, such as leaks, strange noises, or dirty coils. Here are some of the most common HVAC problems and what they mean for your system.

1. Dirty Filters

Dirty filters affect your HVAC system’s airflow and cause your system to work harder to circulate the air in your home. Particles can also enter your system and damage the components, requiring more complex service and repairs. Clogged filters can also make it challenging for your HVAC system to reach your ideal temperature and cause your furnace to overheat and shut off automatically.

You should change your air filters once every three months or more frequently if you have pets who shed a lot or someone in your home with a respiratory condition. Keeping your filters clean will help your HVAC system perform at maximum efficiency.

2. Ignition Issues

Ignition issues can occur for numerous reasons, such as a malfunctioning pilot sensor, a dirty pilot or dirty burners. These problems can cause short cycling, pilot outages, delayed ignition or furnace lockouts. Gas supply problems or worn components can also result in ignition issues. You should always let a professional HVAC technician handle ignition issues. The ignition contains dangerous components, such as high voltages or natural gas, so it’s best to leave the repairs to a professional.

3. Thermostat Problems

Many different thermostats are available on the market, including programmable and smart models. Sometimes an HVAC system malfunction is due to an issue with the thermostat. Check your thermostat owner’s manual for the operating instructions to ensure you’re using the thermostat correctly. Reading these instructions first may prevent a costly service call. Programmable thermostats generally have batteries that need to be replaced regularly. If you’ve tried troubleshooting and replacing the batteries but your thermostat is still malfunctioning, call your HVAC technician. They can quickly diagnose the problem and make necessary repairs.

4. Water Leaks

Air conditioners and furnaces produce condensation, and drain pipes help the water drain correctly. Your HVAC unit can leak if the drain lines become damaged or clogged. You can keep your drain clean by periodically pouring bleach down it.

You’ll also want to look for other potential leak sources, including the evaporator drain pan, collector box or heat exchanger. You can contact a service technician to help locate the source of the leaks and handle repairs.

5. Tripped Breakers

If your furnace is overworking, it can cause your circuit breaker to trip. A blocked blower can cause your system to work harder, which is commonly caused by a dirty air filter. A blower that has to work harder will increase its energy consumption, which can occasionally trip the breaker.

You should check your air filter and replace it if it’s clogged before you reset your circuit breaker. If the problem continues, contact a professional technician who can determine if your furnace is the problem or if your circuit breaker is malfunctioning.

6. Lack of Maintenance

Failing to keep up with your maintenance schedule can cause various HVAC system components to malfunction. Lack of maintenance can also increase your energy costs, result in unexpected breakdowns and cause poor performance. Maintenance is necessary to protect your investment and ensure your system works correctly. Contact your HVAC technician to perform maintenance annually.

7. Unusual Noises

Some noises are normal for your HVAC system as it operates throughout the day. However, other noises can be signs of a mechanical problem. A squealing or whining noise can indicate a significant problem, and you should contact your HVAC technician if you notice these strange noises coming from your system. Unusual noises can be a warning sign of dangerous operating conditions and could result in a system failure.

8. Wear and Tear

Your HVAC system consists of many different components. Normal wear and tear can harm your system’s performance, especially if your equipment is older. Worn components such as bearings and belts can cause airflow problems, poor circulation and overheating.

Keep up with your maintenance schedule to ensure you catch wear and tear before it becomes a significant problem. An HVAC technician can help you spot problems and replace any necessary components to get your HVAC system working smoothly again.

9. Dirty Evaporator Coils or Condensers

If your HVAC system isn’t performing as it should, it might need some cleaning or maintenance. Dirt and debris can clog your evaporator coils and condensers, which can wear down your system sooner and significantly impact efficiency. You can clean your exterior coils by shutting off the power at the electrical panel or the electrical disconnect near the condenser and gently hose off the coil. Dirty interior coils can also affect efficiency but may need professional cleaning, especially if they’re extremely dirty.

10. Blower Running Continuously

Your blower may run continuously for many different reasons. First, check the fan switch on your thermostat since the motor will continue to run when the fan switch is on. You may have accidentally switched the fan on when changing the thermostat settings or forgot to turn it off.

However, if the fan switch is off and your blower is still running, contact a professional HVAC technician to determine the cause and make repairs. For example, if the safety limits won’t reset, your blower won’t turn off. A trained technician can evaluate the problem and suggest effective repairs.

How to Diagnose HVAC Problems

You can make an effort to diagnose your HVAC issues before you call a technician so you can give them more information. Here are some of the ways to troubleshoot HVAC systems:

  • Check the breakers: First, you’ll want to check the power. Locate your fuse box, and check the breakers. Look for any breakers facing a different direction from the rest. If your breakers look normal, flip the switch to your HVAC system off, then wait a few seconds before flipping it back to turn the power back on. If your HVAC system uses fuses instead, you can switch off the main power and replace any burnt or blown fuses.
  • Check your thermostat: If checking the breakers doesn’t fix the problem, check the power source for your thermostat. Most thermostats use wired electricity, but some rely on batteries. Start with changing the batteries. If your thermostat still doesn’t have power, this could be the source of your HVAC issues.
  • Replace the filter: Next, check your air filter. A clogged or dirty filter is one of the most common causes of HVAC problems. You may also experience issues if your air filter is the wrong size, since it may be unable to catch particles and prevent them from clogging up your HVAC components. If your air filter is dirty or poorly sized, replace it with a new filter in the correct size to ensure the air in your home can circulate properly.
  • Check for a vent blockage: Your ductwork can be a delicate part of your HVAC system. When diagnosing HVAC problems, be sure to check the vents for any blockages or clogs inside that could be reducing airflow. You should also ensure that no furniture covers your vents.

Call Shipley Energy to Solve Your HVAC Problems

Learning how to diagnose problems with your HVAC system can help you stay on top of maintenance and fix any issues that impact its efficiency. Shipley Energy can help with your HVAC system maintenance and repairs to help you protect your investment. Our professional technicians can help you quickly diagnose and repair problems with your system as soon as possible. Contact us today to schedule an appointment or learn more about our services.

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