By Anita Ginsburg
During any season when you need to use your furnace, the last thing you want is to have it malfunction. The thing is, even if you schedule regular maintenance and keep your unit clean, there are still some issues that can go from bad to worse quickly. Here are four common furnace issues that are more dangerous than you may think:
Dirty Air Filters
Although quite common, and easy enough to swap out, dirty air filters can do a lot of damage. Over time, your furnace will have to work harder and cycle more often. In addition to higher utility bills, this can lead to other parts in the furnace breaking down more quickly than they otherwise would.
Clogged air filters can also make you sick. Over the course of several months, trapped dirt and debris from the filter can contaminate indoor air, dramatically reducing its quality. It's not uncommon for people to develop respiratory issues, sometimes severe ones. Always keep your air filters clean and, if necessary, enlist the help of a licensed HVAC technician.
Cracked Heat Exchanger
Unless you're familiar with HVAC units, diagnosing a cracked heat exchanger is nearly impossible. The heat exchanger is what swaps out cool air for warm. With extended use, it can develop tiny cracks that can leak carbon monoxide. Undetected carbon monoxide leaks cause a variety of health issues, which can be fatal if left untreated. Thankfully, a furnace repair contractor can quickly identify the issue and make necessary repairs or replacements.
Faulty Pilot Light or Ignition Switch
Another small annoyance that can be dangerous is a faulty pilot light or ignition switch. When the pilot light goes out, or the ignition switch is jammed, carbon monoxide can start to leak inside your home. If either of these start to occur regularly, shut off the gas and request a service call.
Poor airflow within your furnace is more than a dusty mess. Yes, you start to see more dust in your home—you could see it start drifting through the air whenever your furnace kicks on. However, without finding out what's causing the issue, you run the risk of causing permanent damage to your furnace. You might also develop allergy-like symptoms, like sneezing, a runny nose or itchy eyes due to the excess dust.
Regardless of whether you use your furnace all year long or only during the winter, it's important to keep it working properly. Seasonal maintenance can catch minor issues before they become major headaches.
Anita Ginsburg is a freelance writer from Denver, Colo. She studied at Colorado State University and now enjoys writing about health, business and family. A mother of two wonderful children, she loves traveling with her family whenever she isn’t writing. If you notice any issues with your furnace, she recommends contacting a furnace repair contractor as soon as possible to prevent bigger problems. You can find her on Twitter @anitaginsburg.