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Heating and Furnace 101: Repair and Replacement Services

A working heating system is an absolute must for cold climates. For example, the winter months in Denver almost always feature temperatures well below freezing. Only an efficient heating system, like a heat pump or furnace, will keep you and your family cozy during those bitter cold snaps.

In contrast, if you're having issues with your heating system, you may have to deal with a lot of inconvenience, financial stress, and physical discomfort. For instance, a heater that doesn't work properly in the middle of winter could mean:

A very uncomfortable living space
Higher energy bills
Poor indoor air quality
The use of substandard and potentially hazardous heating equipment (space heaters, kerosene heaters, etc.)
Extremes in humidity or dryness

If you're facing any of these issues, then you may need to call in HVAC professionals to solve the problem!

Let’s talk about some servicing tasks that can help your unit to run at peak efficiency for a longer time. We'll discuss common heating repair issues, and some ways you can fix them. In addition, we'll examine some signs that may indicate it's time to completely replace your heating system. Let's get started!

Heating Servicing

Like any piece of equipment, your heating system needs some periodic maintenance to keep running at peak performance. There are several proactive steps you can take to keep your heater functioning properly, and to extend its lifespan. Here are some common servicing tasks to consider:

Inspecting/replacing the air filter

This is a simple task, but one that is very important. Dirty or clogged air filters can hinder the efficiency of your system's air flow, and hurt the quality of your home's indoor air. Most filters should be replaced once per month while the unit is operating. In addition, you should inspect your filter at the start of the heating season and change it out if needed.

Cleaning the blower, blower fan, and motor

In many heating units, the blower is located behind the filter. You should be able to remove the screws that hold the blower in place, and take it out where it is more accessible. Use rags to wipe down the blower, a toothbrush to clean the blades and the crevices between the blades, and then suck up the debris with a vacuum cleaner. If your motor has oil ports, place a couple of drops of non-detergent motor oil down each port. For oil furnaces, you may also need to replace the oil filter. PLEASE NOTE: Only perform this and the following tasks if your system is turned off, and if you feel comfortable doing so.

Inspecting the motor belt

Your system's motor belt should be firm to the touch, with only a half-inch of give (or less) under pressure. Examine it to see if there are any cuts, cracks, or wear. If your belt has sustained significant damage, you will need to have it replaced. To do so, loosen the motor bolts just enough to remove the old belt, and then replace it with a new one. Again, if you feel uncomfortable performing this servicing task, reach out to a qualified HVAC technician for assistance.

Examining vents and/or chimneys

You should visually inspect any vents and chimneys to ensure that they aren't blocked by any debris or other impediments to air flow, like snow, birds' nests, and so forth.

Checking ductwork for leaks

Be sure to visually inspect your system's ductwork for any joint separation or possible air leaks. If you can, physically feel for leaks once your system has been turned back on.

Heat pump maintenance

There are easy steps to maintain the indoor and outdoor units of a heat pump. Similar to a furnace, replace the air filter regularly so blockages don't affect its performance. Make sure to wipe dust off of the indoor unit, and keep debris like branches, tall grass, and snow away from the outdoor unit.

Service your
heating system


Heating Repairs

Heating issues could stem from a wide variety of causes. These could be electrical, mechanical, or physical in nature. The following list outlines some common problems that your furnace or heat pump may run into and what you may be able to do about them.

As you read the following information, remember to take all proper safety precautions if you decide to perform your own repairs. In most cases, it would be wise to call a reputable HVAC company to handle the work instead.

Furnace not turning on

If your system is not coming on when it should, start with the basics:

  • If your heat pump or furnace has its own dedicated power switch, make sure it's in the "on" position.
  • Check for any tripped breakers and/or blown fuses.
  • If your system has a reset button, wait for 30 minutes to let the system cool down, then press it. You may have to repeat this step multiple times.
  • If you have a programmable thermostat, make sure that it's set to have the heat come on at the right time.
  • Check your fuel supply (if applicable). If you have a gas furnace, is the pilot light on and is the gas valve open? If you have an oil furnace, how much oil is left in the tank?

If you try the above steps and still can't find the problem's root cause, there may be an underlying issue you'll have to address. For instance:

  • Your thermostat may be miscalibrated, or there may be an electrical short that's preventing the thermostat from communicating with the heat pump.
  • If your system is continually tripping circuit breakers, this may be a sign of electrical failure with your unit.
  • If you hear a clicking sound that occurs when your system is supposed to be turning on, your system may have a damaged or broken starter capacitor. The starter capacitor is the component that "jump starts" your heating unit's motors with an electrical charge.
  • If your heat pump turns on when you have it set for cold air, but not for warm, then you likely are dealing with a broken reversing valve.

In the four scenarios listed above, you'll almost certainly need to receive help from HVAC professionals in order to fix the underlying problem.

Get in touch with our expert technicians!

Furnace not heating properly

If your heating system turns on when it should, but isn't blowing out warm air properly, then you may be looking at one of the following issues:

Dirty air filter.

When your heat pump's air filter is clogged with dirt and debris, it obstructs the air flow to the compressor, the component that actually heats the air. Fortunately, this problem comes with a quick and simple solution: replace your dirty air filter with a clean one.

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Unit blockage.

Heat pumps are designed to pull heat from the air outside your home. If your unit's air flow is obstructed by fallen snow, ice, a pile of leaves, or any other type of debris, then it will be very difficult for your system to function properly. Again, the solution to this issue is simple: clear away the debris that blocks your unit from receiving an adequate air supply.

Low refrigerant charge.

In a heat pump, the refrigerant is what allows your system to perform heat exchange operations. In winter, the refrigerant absorbs heat from your unit's outdoor coils and transfers that heat to the indoor coils, thus enabling the circulation of warm air. If your refrigerant levels are low (typically from a leak) then your system will blow air throughout the home, but it won't be as warm as it should be. You'll need to call in a professional to check your levels and recharge your system as needed.

Flame sensor issues.

The flame sensor in a gas furnace ensures that a flow of gas exists only when a flame is there to properly ignite it. If your flame sensor is dirty or damaged, then it will cause your furnace to function improperly. Only inspect and clean your flame sensor if you feel comfortable doing so, otherwise, call in a qualified HVAC tech for help.

Air in the lines.

If you have an oil furnace that is not heating as it should and also hear knocking sounds, then you may have air in the supply lines. Bleeding the lines is not extremely difficult, but does require a certain level of knowledge. If you're not confident in your ability to successfully purge the air from the system, contact a professional.

Heating system running constantly

There could be a number of reasons why your heat pump or furnace is constantly on. Here are some common causes:

Extremely cold weather.

If the temperature outside is bitterly cold, then your heat pump may have to work overtime to pull warm air into the system.

Poor insulation.

In conjunction with the above point, if your house is poorly insulated, then whatever warm air is pumped into the home quickly escapes, and must be replaced with warm air again.

Thermostat issues.

Even if your home is well insulated and the weather outside is not exceptionally cold, a malfunctioning thermostat may keep your heater running day and night. A qualified HVAC tech can perform repairs on any faulty wiring, or replace your thermostat if needed.

Broken compressor contactor.

This component manages how much power your heat pump receives to operate. If it's damaged, your heat pump may run constantly. You'll need to call out a professional to replace the part ASAP.

Furnace smells like it's burning

Dust, debris, or damage are the usual causes of burning rubber or plastic smells in heating systems.

  • In most cases, dust build-up in the furnace is the most common cause of a burning smell. Dust accumulates throughout the year, and when the furnace is first turned on in winter, it burns the dust. Run your furnace for 10 to 15 minutes and wait for the smell to subside. If it persists, switch the furnace off and check if your air filters are clogged or if something else is burning.
  • If something restricts airflow in your HVAC system, this causes internal parts to work harder than normal and eventually overheat. Dirty air filters are usually to blame, so any dust or dirt trapped in them is liable to incinerate when the system overheats. Clean your air filter regularly and replace it every season. It not only prevents overheating but also reduces harmful debris and dust indoors.
  • There are several causes of burning parts in a furnace like foreign objects falling in the vents, worn-out components that eventually overheat and fail, or faulty electrical wiring that can lead to fire. Turn off the furnace and call an HVAC specialist to repair parts and wiring.

Heating Replacements and Installations

In many situations, preventative maintenance and timely repairs can keep a heating system running for several years. However, there may come a time when it would be wise to replace your existing unit with a new one. Here are three signs that a complete system replacement may be in order:

Your furnace is over 15 years old or your heat pump is over
10 years old

Older heating units typically don't have the energy efficiency that newer models do. When installed correctly, systems that are ENERGY STAR-certified can offer huge savings on heating costs. For instance, high-efficiency heat pumps may reduce your heating costs by 20%, and high-efficiency furnaces by 15%

Your system is in constant need of repairs

Heating repairs can be expensive, and if your old unit is constantly breaking down, then those costs can quickly add up. After a certain point, it just makes sense to invest in a new unit, instead of throwing more and more money into a system that will eventually need to be replaced anyway.

Your heater provides inconsistent heating

If some rooms in your house are either too hot or too cold, then your heating equipment may be on the fritz. It may be time to replace your unit with a properly functioning system.

Wondering if you
should repair or replace your furnace?


The Replacement and Installation Process

If you decide to have your entire system replaced, what should you expect during the replacement and installation process? While each situation is unique, here are some common steps that may occur.

Step 1

Your contractor will acquire a permit from the local government before performing a furnace or heat pump installation/replacement.

Step 2

With permit in hand, the contractor will then dismantle and remove your old heating unit.

Step 3

The contractor will either perform duct repairs, or install an entirely new system of ductwork, in preparation for the new furnace installation. For heat pumps, the contractor will drill a small hole to connect piping from the outdoor unit to the indoor unit.

Step 4

If necessary, the contractor will prepare the installation site to support the new heating unit, usually by setting up a concrete pad to serve as the primary foundation.

Step 5

The contractor will install the new unit at the site.

Step 6

The contractor will determine the optimal size for refrigerant, drain, and electrical lines, and install them accordingly.

Step 7

The contractor will connect the thermostat to your heating system. (Typically he will use a new thermostat, although in some cases it is possible to use your existing component.)

Step 8

A vacuum will suck up any debris or contaminants from the refrigerant lines and infuse the system with an adequate amount of refrigerant.

Step 9

The contractor will turn the system on and perform a thorough inspection to ensure that everything is working properly.

How Ultimate Heating & Cooling Can Help

Dealing with heating issues is no fun. Fortunately, if you live in the Denver Metro area there is an experienced and reputable HVAC company that can provide you with the help you need.

At Ultimate Heating & Cooling, Inc., each one of our technicians is fully licensed, certified, and qualified to handle a broad spectrum of heating-related tasks. Whether you need assistance in servicing your unit, need an expert to perform major repairs, or need a complete system replacement, we have the knowledge and experience to do the job right. Here's what we offer:

Furnace and Heat Pump Servicing

At Ultimate Heating & Cooling, Inc., each one of our technicians is fully licensed, certified, and qualified to handle a broad spectrum of heating-related tasks. Whether you need assistance in servicing your unit, need an expert to

Heating Repairs

Whether you need assistance in servicing your unit, need an expert to perform major repairs, or need a complete system replacement, we have the knowledge and experience to do the job right.

Furnace and Heat Pump Installation

Dealing with heating issues is no fun. Fortunately, if you live in the Denver Metro area there is an experienced and reputable HVAC company that can provide you with the help you need.

Our team is NATE-certified and we are a Carrier Factory Authorized Dealer.
We proudly serve our neighbors in the Denver Metro area!

At Ultimate Heating & Cooling,

we provide the ultimate in punctual service, high quality work, and customer satisfaction.
Contact us for all your heating needs