Whether you have an older standard-efficiency furnace or a modern high-efficiency model, you want your heating equipment to operate as well as it can. Maintenance and repair issues can reduce the furnace's efficiency, causing it to burn more fuel without generating extra heat for your home. This inefficient behavior will cost you more money and make your home less comfortable.
Unfortunately, it's not always easy to spot efficiency problems. With constantly increasing natural gas prices, it's easy to assume your bill is higher due to price hikes and not problems with your furnace. And, of course, keeping efficiency high is critical to help offset some of those high prices. If you want to ensure you're not throwing money away, watch out for these three efficiency-sapping furnace issues.
1. Faulty Burners
Cleaning your burners should be a normal part of routine maintenance and something your HVAC technician should handle during your yearly check-up visit. However, letting this critical maintenance task fall by the wayside is easy. Failing to clean burners can cause them to become clogged, dirty, and corroded, eventually reducing their ability to produce a clean burn.
If you look at the flames produced by your burners, they should be a bright, steady blue. Flickering or red or yellow flames indicate incomplete combustion, which may indicate that your burners require replacement. Ignoring these issues with your burners will cause your furnace to work much harder, wasting fuel and making it harder to keep your home warm.
2. Exhaust Restrictions
Modern furnaces rely on a draft inducer to create negative pressure ("draft") within the combustion chamber. This draft pulls leftover combustion gases away from your burners and ensures a steady supply of clean air for the combustion process. Since the draft inducer is critical for safety, a severe exhaust restriction will prevent your furnace from firing.
However, minor restrictions may reduce its efficiency. In these cases, your furnace will still run, but it won't burn as cleanly as it would otherwise. You may also hear popping or banging sounds as leftover combustion gases ignite in the combustion chamber. If you notice any of these symptoms, it's important to have an HVAC tech check for restrictions in your exhaust plumbing.
3. Too Much Air
It might seem counterintuitive, but too much air entering your furnace can also be a problem. A technician using a combustion analyzer will typically look at the excess (or "unburnt") air in your furnace's exhaust stream to determine if you have a problem. Too much excess air reduces furnace efficiency and potentially produces greater carbon emissions.
Excess air can come from numerous sources, including physical damage to the furnace cabinet that allows excessive air to enter the combustion chamber. Note that some excess air is necessary for safe combustion, so you'll need a trained HVAC technician to analyze your furnace to determine if there's an issue with your air-to-gas balance.
Contact an HVAC repair service to learn more.