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Top 9 Common Fall HVAC Problems in Cincinnati, OH

When the temperature changes in fall, Cincinnati homeowners no longer need cooling, so they put air conditioners to bed for the season and start to rely on the home’s heating system. This time of year, you’re more likely to experience common fall HVAC issues impacting the heater and air conditioning system. The most common issues that tend to occur this season are often discovered due to changing weather conditions and failure to complete regular maintenance on the HVAC unit.

Thomas & Galbraith Heating, Cooling & Plumbing helps Cincinnati area homeowners understand common HVAC issues plaguing the furnace, heat pump, and air conditioner. Our team shares tips on how you can troubleshoot the most common cause of several HVAC issues that could arise over the fall months, so you can fix the HVAC system, restore efficient heat fast, and avoid the expense of a service call. We also share which common problems require the assistance of a trained service technician, who is able to repair or replace malfunctioning parts as well as perform regular maintenance to improve the function of home HVAC systems.

1. Neglected Regular Maintenance Needs

Regularly scheduled maintenance should be completed in the fall for furnaces as well as heat pumps that will be used to heat the house once cooling season has ended. Maintenance protects various parts of the heater from damage due to wear and tear, helping critical components like the furnace heat exchanger and system safety controls stay in good working condition so they don’t require a fix or replacement. Annual maintenance helps heat pumps or a furnace systems avoid the stress and inefficient operation that leads to unit damage.

If you do not have maintenance completed by a professional each year and ignore the various maintenance tasks homeowners need to perform on a regular basis, you’re setting your system up with the most common reason for HVAC problems. Aim to schedule a maintenance tune-up with your technician before the end of fall each year to avoid issues.

2. Dirty Air Filters

Air filters protect your HVAC unit from dirt and debris buildup that contributes to multiple common fall system problems. As a bonus of this function, air filters also help improve air quality inside the home.

The air filter only does its job if it is changed on a regular basis – dirty air filters leave no filter media available for trapping contaminant particles. Running your air conditioner, furnace, or other forced air system with a dirty air filter is linked to common HVAC issues including overheating, increased wear and tear, excess energy consumption, and more.

Once you shut down your air conditioner at the end of cooling season, it’s a good idea to go ahead and change out the existing dirty air filter from summer and install a fresh air filter so your HVAC system is ready to go when the need for heat begins. Be sure to continue replacing dirty air filters as needed throughout the year.

3. Duct Leaks

If you notice a lack of heat in your home, hot and cold spots, and overall discomfort, leaks in the distribution ductwork could be the reason why. Loose joints, disconnected ducts, and damage to ductwork lets heat escape into areas of the house where heat isn’t meant to go and cold air from these spaces then can enter the duct system, further reducing air temperatures of the heat you receive in your living areas. This escaped heat energy is wasted, and your HVAC system wastes further energy working extra to replace the lost heat, which increases wear and tear damage.

Duct leaks can be difficult to repair on your own, as ductwork is largely inaccessible in a home. Instead, call your HVAC company about professional duct sealing services to close up these holes, improve indoor comfort, and reduce energy waste.

4. Circuit Breaker That Repeatedly Trips

An overused blower motor is the most common problem behind a circuit breaker that trips over and over. The most common issues causing the blower motor to overwork include airflow blockages from a dirty filter or closed vents as well as dirty coils.

If your furnace or heating unit continues to trip a circuit breaker, start troubleshooting by changing the air filter. Also, check vents throughout the home, making sure all supply and return vents are open and clear of blockages. If replacing a dirty filter doesn’t change anything and all vents are clear, contact a trained technician to diagnose and repair the source of a circuit breaker that frequently trips.

5. Clogged Drain Lines

Air conditioning units, heat pumps, and high-efficiency condensing furnaces all produce condensation as they run. A connected condensate drainpipe allows moisture to drain out of the equipment and away from the home into nearby storm drains, sewer drains, or elsewhere on the property. Condensate drain components can become clogged due to debris gathered in the pipe or damage to the line. Mold growth within the air conditioner or a dirty evaporator coil can cause debris to build up in the condensate drain and block the flow of moisture from the units.

If the condensate lines are clogged, moisture backs up inside the equipment and will eventually spill out. This causes what appears to be water leaks on the floor around the system and may cause water damage to your HVAC system equipment.

The condensate drain lines should be cleaned on a regular basis to stop them from forming clogs. Outdoors, falling leaves can fill storm drains and sewer drains, causing them to become clogged and blocking the drainage route for moisture. Keep outdoor drains clear by bagging up and removing falling leaves from your yard. If the condensate drain line is damaged, have the piping replaced by an HVAC company.

6. Malfunctioning Thermostat

A malfunctioning thermostat or broken thermostat may be the reason you have trouble keeping your home heated properly. For homeowners using smart or programmable thermostats, check the owner’s manual operating instructions for directions regarding how to reset temperature schedules for fall – if you are unable to adjust your thermostat this way or the device does not run the heater using the new settings, it could be in need of repair or replacement.

Install fresh batteries for your thermostat at least once per year – if the batteries die between replacements, go ahead and install new ones then. If your thermostat has power but isn’t operating your heating unit correctly, have your technician inspect the device as a pro may be able to fix it or you may be due for an upgrade.

7. Blower Runs All the Time

When your furnace or heat pump is working, the blower motor should also be on to circulate heat through the duct system. If the blower runs between heating cycles, it could be due to a simple settings mistake or there may be a faulty limit switch, safety control, or relay forcing the blower motor to run all the time.

Check the fan switch setting on your thermostat – you want to set it at AUTO, not ON. If the fan switch is set correctly, a trained service technician is needed to find and correct your blower problems.

8. Refrigerant Leak

When using heat pumps for both heating and cooling, refrigerant leaks are among the most common fall HVAC issues homeowners find. When the system’s refrigerant levels fall due to leaks in the evaporator coil, condenser coil, or refrigerant pipes running between the indoor and outdoor units, the heat pump will likely struggle to properly heat the home.

You need a trained technician with an EPA refrigerant handling certification to find and repair a refrigerant leak in your system. After refrigerant leaks are corrected, your technician will need to add refrigerant to the system. Once the unit is recharged with refrigerant, it will be capable of efficient heat transfer so your home will stay warm.

9. Ignition Problems

Troubles with parts of the ignition system is a common furnace problem homeowners detect in the fall. Ignition problems cause a furnace to fail to correctly burn fuel and produce heating.

If the pilot light in your older furnace model’s ignition system goes out, this could be caused by a nearby draft or a faulty thermocouple. Resolve drafts and follow instructions in the owner’s manual to relight the pilot. If it continues to go out, call for service. Dirt in the gas intake valve may restrict efficient burning of the pilot flame, causing the thermocouple to mistake a safety concern. Cleaning these ignition components is a part of regular maintenance.

For a furnace with a hot surface ignitor that fails to light the system, the causes could be loose wiring, dirt on the ignitor, a broken ignitor, control board fault, or a malfunction in the rollout switch, pressure switch, or limit switch. A technician can clean the ignitor as well as diagnose and correct other causes of this issue.

Dirty burners prevent proper gas and air mixing, restricting flames and heat. Burners are typically cleaned during professional maintenance tune-ups each year.

Skilled Repairs for Common Fall HVAC Issues in the Cincinnati Area

For help with the common fall HVAC problems mentioned above, call Thomas & Galbraith Heating, Cooling & Plumbing to schedule service. Our NATE-certified heating technicians are ready to help you improve comfort and furnace performance this season while keeping your equipment in tip-top shape.

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