Why Is My Heater Blowing Cold Air?

Winter is finally here in the Valley of the Sun. In fact, with overnight lows in the 40’s, you may have even flipped on your heater as well—or are thinking of doing so.

The first time you switch over from cold to hot you may experience a blast of cold air. What the what? Here are some issues you might be having if you find your heater running cold.

Is Your Heater Blowing Out Cold Air?

If you are one of those unlucky people and dealing with a heater blowing out only cool air instead of hot, then there is a chance that it might be an easy problem to fix for the do it yourselfer.

Even if you are not a DIY home technician, there are generally only a few reasons why your heater might be blowing cold air. Usually you can easily identify the culprit without calling an HVAC professional. Of course, fixing it may require the big guns, but we’ll get to that in a minute.

Common Problems with Heaters and Furnaces

One of the most common problems that could be causing your heater to malfunction is a faulty thermostat. No matter what kind of heater your home has, it will have a thermostat and this is where your troubles begin.

To start the troubleshooting process for your heater, try these steps:

  • Let the heater run for 10 minutes and check if hot air is beginning to come out after that time has elapsed.
  • Check the temperature setting on the thermostat. The problem may be as simple as that it’s not set hot enough.
  • Check or replace the batteries inside the thermostat. Not all thermostats use batteries, but those that do depend on them to work.
  • Adjust the fan switch; try setting it to auto – it may not be in the heating cycle.
  • Check the temperature around where the thermostat lives. If it’s in a hot area of your home, such as behind a TV, it might never kick on the heater because it thinks your home is already hot.

Another common problem for a heater blowing only cold air is that the pilot light might be out. The pilot light is a small flame that is always lit when you have the furnace turned on.

The pilot light might simply just need to be re-lit, or the gas valve could have been shut off after last season’s use.

If you have a gas-powered furnace in your home, one problem could be the gas supply to your furnace. For a gas-line furnace make sure the valve going to your furnace is turned on.

Another solution is to ensure you have gas coming into your home by checking a gas-powered stove or oven.

For many of us in Phoenix, we have electric-powered furnaces. Be sure that the furnace is plugged in. Typically, the furnace is the air conditioner, so you’ll likely have it on all year long, but it’s a worth the check just for sanity’s sake.

Still Having Problems?

If you’d done all the DIY checks of your system and you’re still feeling cold air, then it’s time to escalate the issue. There’s no reason to be uncomfortable during the winter, so give us a call at Forrest Anderson. When your HVAC unit is blowing cold air, it could be a more serious problem.

Ask us about our service contracts to receive two included inspections and 15% off any services!

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Maintenance Tips for Winter

Now that winter is here our homes’ heating systems are hard at work. Avoid outages and breakdowns by using these easy DIY preventative maintenance measures.

First Things First

Power down your furnace or heater before performing any sort of maintenance or inspections. Turn off the gas supply and electricity leading to your furnace as a safety precaution. This will prevent any dangerous situations.

Take a Visual Inspection

After creating a safe environment, conduct a quick visual inspection. Check for any obvious signs of damage or for something in disrepair. Do you see any broken or damaged lines? Are the filters obstructed by anything? Is black soot surrounding the furnace? This can tell you the furnace may not venting properly which could be venting carbon monoxide into your house. These are all easy-to-spot signs that something on your furnace or heater needs your immediate attention to prevent an outage.

Smelling for Gas Leaks

If you have a gas heater, gas leaks are a major risk. Natural gas is naturally odorless but Southwest Gas puts an additive in the gas lines that smells like rotten eggs. It’s a potent and unmistakable smell. If you have a gas heater and you smell rotten eggs (assuming you’re not cleaning out the fridge at the time), immediately turn off the gas valve, evacuate your home, and contact Southwest Gas for help. A gas leak can be deadly.

Clean and Replace Your Filters

The next thing to do is to clean and replace all your filters. This is something that needs to be done regularly. Your filters prevent dirt and dust from entering your furnace. You should be cleaning and replacing your filters every one to three months while the furnace or heater is in use.

Clean and Dust Your Blower

After cleaning and replacing the filters, the next step is to clean your blower. The blower is located right after your filters. The truth is that while your blower has safety features in it, it’s still a dangerous place and we’d rather not stick your hand in there. If you see it’s dirty, let the professional team at Forrest Anderson handle this. We know how to keep ourselves safe.

Clean All Vents

You should clean your vents. Your furnace or heater is connected to vents, which allow the hot air to enter your home. Clean these vents out regularly as they collect dust and debris. You can clean the vents with a brush then vacuum everything away.

Inspect and Clean Your Pilot Light

After all vents, ducts, and filters are cleaned, you should inspect and clean your pilot light, if you have a gas furnace. Your pilot light is one of the most important components of your gas furnace, and it should be working. Dust tends to collect around the pilot light, and it can prevent it from working the way it should. You can clean the dust and dirt around the pilot light by using a drinking straw and simply blowing it all away. Most modern heaters have a spark igniter or a hot surface igniter, so chances are you won’t have to worry about the pilot lot. And if you happen to have a furnace with a pilot light, contact Forrest Anderson to upgrade to a more efficient (and safer) model.

Schedule a Professional Inspection

The start of the season is a great time to call in a professional for maintenance of your HVAC system. Whether you’d find that you need service or you’d just rather outsource that whole inspection thing, Forrest Anderson is here for you.

We recommend having your HVAC system serviced twice a year: once before winter and then again before summer hits.

Ask us about our service contracts to receive two included inspections and 15% off any services!

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Why You Need an Expert to Check Your Furnace

Winter is right around the corner. Temperatures are dropping and the time to prepare for the cooler season has almost come and gone.

Now is when you need to do all the pre winter checks:

  • Check your attic for adequate insulation.
  • Check the seals on all of your windows and doors to make sure the warm air inside of your house isn’t leaking out and the cold air from outside isn’t coming in.
  • Schedule a routine maintenance inspection of your furnace before you need to depend on it working day in and day out all winter long.

Have Your Furnace Inspected Annually

It’s very important to have your furnace scheduled for routine inspections annually.

Studies show that a well-maintained furnace will last up to twice as long as an unmaintained furnace. Keeping it in good working order will allow it operate more efficiently. It’s safer too. A well-maintained furnace can protect your family from dangerous gasses like carbon monoxide.

A well-maintained furnace will work more reliably and is less likely to leave you in an emergency situation without heat and in need of costly, unscheduled repairs.

You might think the warranty on your furnace will cover all breakdown and repair costs, but it’s very likely that any warranty claims will need to include a history of routine maintenance on your furnace.

Five Most Important Components of Your Furnace

Here are some of the most common areas on your furnace a professional will need to check while performing a routine scheduled inspection:

  1. The hi-limit switch: This is one of the most important safety features protecting the life of your furnace. The hi-limit switch monitors the airflow moving through your furnace and detects if there is a clog in the system. It will automatically shut down your furnace so that it isn’t able to burn itself out. It turns on the fan to prevent the furnace from overheating
  2. The flame sensor: The job of this component is to identify or detect any signs of a flame or fire within the furnace and activate the fire-suppression system. The flame sensor is something you do not want malfunctioning, and it should be something checked regularly before using your furnace. It makes sure the flame is still burning. If it’s not, it can cause a build-up of gas, risking an explosion.
  3. The heat exchanger: This is probably the most important part of your furnace. The heat exchanger is what actually creates the hot air that then blows into your home. This should be inspected for any cracks or holes. A cracked heat exchanger is quite dangerous to you and your family. Cracks allows dangerous gasses, including carbon monoxide, to enter your home. This odorless gas is known as “the silent killer” for good reason, so you definitely want to protect yourself from it.
  4. Combustion fan motor: Its job is to discharge the carbon monoxide to the outside of the house. It protects the heat exchanger from overheating and cracking. Cracks in the heat exchanger can result in carbon monoxide build-up.
  5. The igniter: This is exactly what it sounds like: it starts your heating system or furnace. Igniters can break over time or may not be getting power, causing no heat.

Contact Forrest Anderson for a Routine Inspection

We highly recommend that you have your furnace routinely inspected and each year.

Contact the professionals at Forrest Anderson to schedule this important inspection in the fall months and then again in the spring. Proper preventative maintenance more than pays for itself.

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Why Does My Heater Smell Bad?

In Arizona, we are one of the lucky few states in America that does not rely on heaters.

While this is great for us, it’s not the best thing for our home’s heating system. It’s necessary to have your home’s heater inspected yearly at the beginning of the season before the cold weather hits.

As winter approaches, a lot of us will be turning on our heaters for the first time since the beginning of March. You might notice some burning smells coming out of your air ducts, and you may be wondering what that smell is.

You might even think there is a problem with your heater or that a fire is imminent. Thankfully, that’s not usually the case.

These are tips on what common smells coming from your heater might be, and how you can stop them from smelling.

Common Causes for Odors Coming from Your Heater

The most common odor you might smell is burning dust. (Especially if you are turning on your heater for the first time this winter season.) Dust has collected in the heating ducts all summer long. Once you switch the heater on, the warm air will cause it to burn. Save your home from the lingering smell, and open your windows when you run your heater for the first time.

Clogged or dirty air filters are another common cause for odors in your home. These can also cause problems for you all year round. Dirty filters can cause your heater to become overworked and overheated. And result in a burning smell inside of your home.

Prevent airflow problems and replace your furnace filters before turning it on for the first time this season.

Odors coming from your heater could also be a warning sign of something more serious. Those odors might be a clue pointing to a damaged or worn out HVAC system.

Problems with your furnace could be something as simple as the system is low on oil. Or it can be as serious as a cracked heating element, which can also release dangerous gases into your home.

Here are some of the major reasons to ensure your furnace is inspected each year:

  • Carbon monoxide gas
  • Cracked heat exchangers causing flame
  • Bad gas valve
  • Gas valves stuck open
  • Bad flame sensors fail to prevent gas build-up and explosion.

These are some of the critical reasons to inspect your furnace each year.

Have Your Furnace Inspected Yearly

The lesson to take away here is that furnaces and HVAC systems need to be inspected on a regular, scheduled basis. The best times for unit inspections are when you are switching from heat to A/C, and again when you change from A/C to heat. Scheduled maintenance not only extends the life of your HVAC unit, but it will also save you money in the long run.

Contact the pros at Forrest Anderson to schedule your biannual HVAC inspection. Ask us about our Loyalty Maintenance Plan ™, which includes two inspections and 15% off repairs.

We’ll make sure your heater is ready for those cool Arizona nights!

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