What’s Dragging Your Furnace’s Efficiency Down?

Have you noticed your gas heating bills slowly climbing as the winter drags on? While fuel prices are going up across the country, your heating costs also depend on your furnace's efficiency. Unfortunately, furnace efficiency can degrade due to numerous problems, including deferred maintenance and unaddressed repairs.

If rising fuel costs alone can't explain your skyrocketing heating costs, here are three problems that could be affecting your furnace's efficiency.

1. Poor Maintenance Habits

You need to do a few things to ensure your gas furnace runs smoothly and efficiently. Most importantly, you must monitor the condition of your air filter and change it regularly. A clogged air filter can restrict airflow across the heat exchanger, preventing it from distributing air throughout your home and potentially causing it to overheat and short cycle.

While a neglected filter will drastically reduce your furnace's efficiency, it's also crucial to schedule annual maintenance visits. These visits include more thorough inspection and maintenance procedures, and ignoring these visits can lead to reduced system efficiency as time goes on. If you haven't had a professional check your system out in a few years, the lack of maintenance may be costing you money.

2. Combustion Problems

If your furnace has a sight glass, you can usually look into the combustion chamber to see the color of the flames. Natural gas flames should burn a bright blue color, indicating near-complete combustion and a clean burn. Flickering, red flames, or visible pops are signs of inefficient combustion and may indicate burner contamination or the presence of combustion byproducts in the combustion chamber.

Combustion problems can have numerous sources, including dirty or rusted burners, restrictions in the exhaust flue, or even heat exchanger issues. Inefficient combustion will increase heating costs and may lead to excessive and hazardous carbon monoxide production. If you think your furnace is suffering from these issues, you should immediately contact a qualified heating contractor.

3. Damaged Ductwork

Forced air heating systems rely on your home's ductwork to distribute air to each room in your house. Anything that restricts airflow through the ductwork can lead to efficiency issues, forcing your furnace to produce heat that won't effectively reach the parts of your home that need it the most. Leaks, kinks, or other issues with your ductwork can produce similar symptoms to a clogged air filter.

Unfortunately, airflow restrictions do more than reduce your system efficiency. These problems can also cause excessive temperature increases near your heat exchanger and force your blower to work harder. Running your system without addressing your airflow restriction will cause these components to wear down more quickly or even fail prematurely.

For more information about heating services, contact a local HVAC contractor.