Furnace Repair Guide – Costs, Common Issues & Troubleshooting Tips
Proper furnace repair and maintenance are mandatory if you want to get the most extended life, best performance, and highest efficiency from your heating system.
Here at FurnacePrices.ca, we know that having a furnace isn’t the same thing as knowing about furnace maintenance, and there are plenty of homeowners out there who want to learn more about furnace repairs and upkeep for their heating systems.
For that reason, we’ve created this comprehensive guide that will tell you everything you need to know about furnace maintenance services. Which includes common problems and questions, troubleshooting help, and even average repair costs.
Please note, the following is for informational purposes only. Any servicing you attempt is at your own risk.
Individual Furnace Brand Repair Guides
Common Furnace Problems
1. Dirty filter
Dirty filters will result in a lower efficiency rating, reduced performance and heating capabilities, lower air quality, and a furnace that doesn’t last as long as it should. Furnace filters should be changed every one to three months.
2. Lack of maintenance
Your furnace has a lot of working parts, and for the unit to perform optimally and efficiently, these components have to be serviced regularly. A good rule of thumb is to have your heating system inspected and tuned up once a year by a certified HVAC technician.
3. The unit doesn’t heat/work
Plenty of things can cause this problem, from something as simple as the unit not getting power because a breaker tripped or fuse blew to something complicated like a faulty heat exchanger. Other possible causes include a defective thermostat or wrong thermostat setting, and problems with the gas line, ignitor, or pilot.
4. Improperly sized unit
When investing in a new heating system, a crucial consideration is the size of the unit and its heating output versus the size of the space you’re heating. If the furnace is too small, it will run constantly, cost a fortune to operate, and won’t keep your home warm enough. But a furnace that’s too large is also a problem because it will frequently cycle, allow your home to cool between cycles and increase humidity levels.
5. Improper installation
You spent a great deal of money on your furnace, so you’re going to want to make sure it’s installed properly, working well, and not going to need repairs in a few months because of installation errors. The only way to ensure the furnace is installed right is by hiring a trained and certified local contractor. This is especially important with gas furnaces because the last thing you want is a gas leak from a botched installation job.
6. Thermostat problems
Thermostats do break down, and when this happens, they aren’t able to properly control heating cycles. If you think your thermostat might be malfunctioning, replace it with a new one and make sure it’s adequately calibrated and set according to your comfort needs.
7. Dirty flame sensor
The flame sensor is a safety feature that prevents the furnace from exhausting gas when there’s no flame present. If this small metal rod gets dirty, it won’t be able to detect the flame and will shut the furnace down, resulting in a system that comes on when it should but then shuts down before it can heat the house.
8. Pilot problems
Older furnaces have a pilot light that stays burning all the time, and if it goes out because of a draft, clog problem with the thermocouple, or other reason, then the furnace won’t be able to do its job.
9. Fan motor
The fan motor powers the blades that circulate air around your house, and if the motor is faulty or breaks down, then the fan won’t operate at the right speed and won’t keep your home at the right temperature.
How to Perform Furnace Repairs
Frequently Asked Questions
You can also check the chimney annually for cracks and damage, and inspect the fan belts to make sure they’re intact. You should also hire a certified technician once a year for inspection and servicing.
Signs that your furnace is on its last legs include:
- Corrosion on the unit
- The unit isn’t producing Heat or isn’t producing enough Heat
- Regular pilot light failures
- Delayed ignition after a call for Heat has been made
The average lifespan of a furnace is 13 to 20 years, with most lasting around 15. When your furnace is older than 10 years and no longer under warranty, you should consider upgrading to a new unit if your old unit requires significant repairs, especially to expensive components like the heat exchanger.
Furnace Repair Pricing and Parts
One thing you have to do as a homeowner is budget for furnace repairs and maintenance, so it helps to know what those repairs might roughly cost.
To help you budget for the various repairs, we’ve put together a general guide to furnace repair prices when you hire a contractor, followed by a description of the services (from least to most expensive):
✔ Annual inspection, thermostat repair, flame sensor or ignitor repair: $80 to $300
✔ Limit switch replacement, burner repair, or gas valve replacement: $115 to $470
✔ Replacing the thermostat, blower fan, or circuit board: $125 to $650
✔ Replacing the furnace motor or heat exchanger: $1,200 to $2,400
Basic Furnace Repair Tools
✔ Screwdriver to open the access panel
✔ New filter when replacing the old one
✔ Non-abrasive pad to clean the flame sensor
✔ Vacuum to clean the blower and fan blades
✔ New thermostat if the old one is faulty
Furnace Repair Safety Tips
✔ Never perform any repairs or maintenance on your furnace without first shutting off power to the unit
✔ Test your carbon monoxide detectors monthly if you have a gas or oil furnace
✔ Make sure the area around your furnace, including the air intake, is free of debris, furniture, clutter, and especially flammable items like wood, papers, and some chemicals
✔ Always read the owner’s manual before performing any maintenance, and follow all safety and repair instructions carefully
✔ If you smell gas, shut the unit off, open the windows, and get everybody out of the house immediately before calling your utility company or the fire department
✔ Use parts and replacement components that are made for your specific furnace
✔ If you suspect the heat exchanger is cracked, call a certified HVAC technician immediately, because it could lead to a gas leak (look for visible cracks, corrosion, and a clicking sound from the furnace when the blower shuts off)
HVAC Help and Maintenance
Knowing how to diagnose and troubleshoot some of your furnace repairs can be very rewarding, but there are times when you’ll need help from a trained professional.
During these times, you want a technician you can rely on, and that’s why we created our independent contractor certification program. With this program, you can find a trustworthy and dependable HVAC technician in your area who has all the right licences and certifications, training, experience, and more.
When choosing an HVAC contractor, we recommend checking that the company has:
✔ All the proper licenses & certifications
✔ Additional manufacturer training
✔ Experienced staff
✔ A good track record
✔ Adequate insurance
✔ Offers fair & transparent quotes