Troubleshooting Furnace Issues: 5 Symptoms and When to Call Missoula Heating Contractors

Any system will have parts that go bad over time. If your Missoula home uses a furnace HVAC system, you have found the right place to troubleshoot some of the common issues.  There will be a little bit of overlap because some issues have the same symptom and some symptoms have the same cause. That’s why it requires troubleshooting to figure out what the cause of your symptoms is and what the fix is. Look for your symptoms below and see what cause makes the most sense. 

Symptom #1: Insufficient Heat

If your Missoula home’s furnace system is sending heat into your home but not producing enough to maintain the desired temperature, you are dealing with insufficient heat. 

What Could Be The Cause?

1. Malfunctioning Thermostat: a common issue with a relatively simple remedy.

*The Fix: Check to see if your thermostat needs a new battery. If it has a fresh battery and still having issues, it may be time to update your thermostat.  New model thermostats can be programmed to a lower temperature at times when the house is empty and can be managed remotely with WIFI capabilities.

2. Clogged Air Filters: A clogged air filter can cause a number of problems in an HVAC system, and many can snowball into larger problems.

*The Fix: Simply replacing the air filter can be all it takes. If you have been dealing with insufficient heat for a while, it may be due to a dirty air filter. 

3. Ignition System Issues: A failure in the ignition system could be the cause of your issue. If the pilot light has been out for a long time, it could have leaked gas into the space that your furnace is in. Be sure to air the space out if you suspect this is the case. 

*The Fix: Check the pilot light or igniter. Light the pilot light of your furnace if it has one. If the igniter is not working, it will need to be cleaned or replaced.  Contact a Missoula heating contractor if you have questions, want an inspection, or to schedule a repair.

Symptom #2: Frequent Cycles (Short Cycling)

Short Cycling is when your furnace kicks on and off three times in 5 to 10 minutes. 

What Could Be The Cause?

1. Dirty Air Filter: This can cause a number of problems, including short cycling. 

*The Fix: If you change your filter regularly, you can easily prevent this issue. If your unit has been functioning with dirty air filters or enough that it has started short cycling, your furnace has likely developed additional issues.  Call Missoula heating contractors to schedule an insurrection or a repair

2. Thermostat Issues: Having a faulty thermostat can send wacky signals to your furnace. 

*The Fix: This issue can usually be remedied with a new battery.  If a battery does not do the trick, it may be time to replace your thermostat.  

Symptom #3: Uneven Heating

If you notice one bedroom much warmer than another or the living room much colder than the rest of the home, and do not have heat zones set up that way, you are dealing with uneven heating. 

What Could Be The Cause?

1. Clogged Air Ducts: Air ducts can get clogged when toys or other debris fall down through the vent.  It could be a broken or jammed damper.

*The Fix: If you can find and reach debris close to the vent, you can handle this on your own. If there is an issue further down into the ductwork, it is time to reach out to Missoula heating contractors to get into the system without causing further damage. 

2. Blocked Vents: Whether a storage bin has been placed or laundry has started to pile near a vent, blocked vents can cause uneven heating.

*The Fix: Simply moving all items away from vents and creating a 2 to 3-foot radius of clear space around vents should resolve this problem.

3. Improperly Sized Furnace System: It may be obvious that a furnace that is too small is not going to properly heat a home.  It may be less obvious that a furnace that is too big will ineffectively heat a home as well. 

*The Fix: If you suspect this is the cause of your uneven Heating, it is time to call a Missoula heating contractor. You can start with an inspection. You may need a new furnace to remedy the issue.  

Symptom #4: Burning Smells

It goes without saying that burning smells come from something burning. It could be dirt burning off, or it could be an all-out fire. If you suspect a fire in your home, call emergency services immediately. Once your home is sure to be safe to re-enter, and you have determined that the smell is from your furnace system, you’ll need to find the source of the burning smell.

What Could Be The Cause?

1. Dirty Components: If there is dust or corrosion on components within your furnace, it can cause a burning smell. 

*The Fix: If this is the cause of the burning smell you notice coming from your furnace, you will need to determine which components are dirty.  They will either need to be cleaned or replaced.  Because of the level of danger of the other potential causes of this symptom, we strongly recommend contacting a Missoula heating contractor as soon as possible. 

2. Malfunctioning Furnace: Because furnaces heat by burning gas or oil, combustion and fire have to occur safely within every furnace unit. If some part of this process is not happening in the way it is supposed to, you may notice a burning smell. This situation can be dangerous to you, your family, and your home. It is very important to shut off power to your furnace unit and fix the problem before returning power to your furnace. 

*The Fix: Before anything else, shut off power to your furnace unit. You should look for burn marks, ash or smoke to lead you to the source of the burning smell. If you cannot find the source of the burning smell with certainty, call a Missoula heating contractor to ensure your furnace system is safe and will be reliable in your Missoula home.

Symptom #5: Musty Odors

There are a variety of smells that can come from a furnace system, and each can be a sign of a different issue. You may notice musty smells coming from your vents or around your ductwork or furnace.

What Could Be The Cause?

1. Mold or Mildew in the Ductwork: if mold has started growing in the ductwork of your furnace system, you will be inhaling it in the air that comes out of the vents. 

*The Fix: The ductwork needs to be cleaned or replaced. You may also want to consider getting Aeroseal installed in your ductwork. Give a call to a Missoula heating contractor to see what your options are. 

2. Mold or Mildew in the Air Intake System: if your home has been humid, and that humidity has collected in the air intake ducts of your furnace system, you could have mold or mildew in the air intake system. 

*The Fix: You can start by replacing the air filter. It is wise to get a Missoula heating contractor out for an inspection of your ductwork to find how much has grown and ensure it is removed entirely. 

When to Call a Missoula Heating Contractor

If you are not sure of what you are dealing with or unsure if you can manage a repair on your own, there is the potential to make the situation worse.  Go ahead and contact Garden City Plumbing and Heating online or give us a call at (406) 728-5550 to schedule an inspection or a repair.