For a lot of homeowners, the term routine maintenance means ‘you don’t have to worry about that ever’ and that’s a really unfortunate practice. For one, you’re greatly decreasing the life of items like HVAC systems when you fail to maintain it properly and forcing yourself to pay eventually for furnace repair much earlier than needed. Plus by not maintaining an item such as a furnace or air-conditioner, all you’re really doing is driving up the costs of your energy efficiency bills.
While costs are one thing, dangers are another, and the furnace can be an unlikely source for starting a catastrophe. Much in the way that a dryer vent filled with lint is a ticking time bomb, so can a furnace clogged with debris. The next time you think about skimping on routine HVAC maintenance don’t forget these associated dangers of a clogged furnace.
The most common area that will get clogged in the furnace is the filter. Most people know how important it is to change the filters on a monthly or at least semi-regular basis but some let the task go due to laziness, complacency, or forgetfulness. Dust, hair, and other debris get lodged in the filter and can have a number of dire effects if left unattended.
While it’s not necessarily a danger, the first thing a clogged filter starts to do is prevent proper air flow which will start to raise utility bills. The longer the filter is left untouched, it will start to put a bigger strain on the handler fan motor which will eventually burn out and overheat causing an unnecessary furnace repair. Plus all those particles that collect and back up in the filter are mostly flammable, meaning any arcing of wires or another spark within the system could cause a fire. Not only that the air that is being delivered to the house is impure and affects those in the house with allergies. Filters are inexpensive and change in minutes, and there should be no excuse to let dirt and dust clog them.
Vents are a necessary component to any furnace system because they take the pressure of the internal components by releasing the gases that are built up during the heating process. The vents direct the dangerous gases outside where they are dissolved into the air mostly harmlessly. Of course just like any vent anywhere, these can become plugged or clogged which will prevent the gases from releasing, a potentially catastrophic occurrence. When carbon monoxide and the like can’t escape the home, they obviously fill it up which could poison the residents, making them ill or worse.
The worst thing about allowing a blocked vent to cause harm in the home is that the situation is so easy to prevent. Snow, animal nests, debris, or foundation problems are, usually, the cause of a blocked vent that can easily be cleared away to alleviate any problem. Blocked vents won’t necessarily require furnace repair, but they could cause something worse.
The igniter creates the flame that heats the air that warms your house. Of course, there is always dangers involved when dealing with an open flame, but more when you add fuel in the form of dust, debris, and dead insect buildup. The first thing that’s noticeable in a partially clogged igniter is difficulty starting and in doing so the creation of sparks to kick in which can be a disaster.
There are two positive things when it comes to clogged igniters. First, older model furnaces use a continuously burning pilot light instead of an igniter. The constant light has a way of burning off dust before it accumulates and scares insects away. Second of all, if the igniter gets completely clogged such as over the offseason, it will only make a clicking noise and will not start up, which is easily detected by a furnace repair technician. Either way, always make sure your internal components are sprayed off with a can of combustible air on a regular basis.
Clogged Drain Pipes
When the furnace is part of a complete HVAC system with an air conditioner, it also features a drain pipe for removing condensation. Drain pipes can get clogged with all sorts of hair, debris, or algae and can create quite a nuisance when they do. The water starts to back up which creates a cesspool in the basement or utility room. This water encourages mold growth in the area that can cause damage to the walls and other items in the room. In addition, the mold is an allergen that can cause household guests to experience watery eyes and respiratory problems. Finally, the water backup in a moist area creates a stench unlike no other. To prevent the clogged drain, take a vacuum to the area and suck all the debris and algae out on a regular basis.
In many of the instances of a clogged heating system, furnace repair is often the least of the worries. While air-conditioners have their set of hazards as well, adding heat and flames into the mix expands those dangers exponentially. What’s so discouraging about a clogged furnace that ignites or a vent that backs up causing illness to a family is that their mishaps are so easily preventable. Avoid these hazards by changing the filters on a regular basis, cleaning the internal components, and ensuring the vents aren’t blocked.