freezing family of three with cups of tea warming near warm radiator in home

5 Signs That Your Furnace Isn’t Running Efficiently

You want to trust that your furnace is going to keep your home comfortable when winter temperatures drop in Dothan, AL. While temps below freezing are rare in this Southern city, the mercury has been known to show readings as low as 12 degrees Fahrenheit. If your furnace isn’t efficient, you’ll pay more for your utilities, won’t be as comfortable, and will need to call for more frequent repairs. Here are some signs that furnace isn’t efficient enough and needs some attention.

1. Long Heating Cycles

When your furnace is working properly, its cycles should last roughly 10 to 15 minutes. Longer heating cycles indicate that your furnace is struggling to warm your home to your desired level.

2. Increased Heating Bills

Pay attention to your heating bills from month to month and especially from year to year. Decreased efficiency may show up in significantly higher fuel consumption compared to last year’s. Be sure to compare actual consumption, not just the dollar amount of your heating bills.

3. Low AFUE Rating

Check to see the age of your furnace. They have an expected service life of about 15 to 20 years. Units older than that generally have a lower annual fuel utilization efficiency (AFUE) rating than newer units.

This rating tells you how much heat the unit produces that goes into heating your home. In any combustion furnace, there is some heating loss through the flue. In 2007, the federal government updated the requirements on furnaces to achieve at least 80% AFUE, an increase of 2%.

4. Cool Air From Vents

Cool air from your vents is a key indicator something isn’t firing properly in your furnace. It could be a clogged air filter, dirty heat exchanger, or dirty burner. A clogged air filter causes heat to build up in the unit, tripping the limit switch that turns off the burner.

5. Unusual Noises

Your furnace may emit a low humming noise while running normally. However, other sounds, especially loud ones, indicate a problem in your system, one that likely reduces its efficiency.

If you hear a loud banging or popping sound, you may have an issue with fuel burning incompletely. This causes fuel buildup in the burn chamber, which could eventually lead that fuel to create a small explosion.

A whistling sound indicates that your system isn’t getting enough air, and that significantly reduces its efficiency. This may be caused by dirty air filters, obstructions in the ducts, or closed dampers or vents.

How to Improve Your Furnace’s Efficiency

There are three keys to keeping your system operating efficiently. First, check and change your air filter regularly. Depending on your air quality, this may be as frequently as every 30 days, so plan on monthly checks.

Your system also needs routine maintenance performed by a professional technician. During this maintenance, the technician will clean the areas of the furnace that may restrict airflow. They’ll also test components that may not be operating as they should, reducing their efficiency.

Finally, check to make sure all your vents are open, and have adequate clearance to allow effective circulation. Two inches above and around each vent are generally enough to allow the system to work properly.

Make sure your furnace keeps your family comfortable this winter without breaking the bank. Call to schedule your furnace maintenance with our experts at Prime HVAC today.