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Keeping Your Home Warm: A Homeowner’s Guide to Diagnosing Heating System Problems

As a homeowner, it’s almost inevitable that you’ll encounter heating repair issues at some point. This article aims to walk you through some basic diagnostic steps to help you receive a fair estimate for heating system repairs. However, please note that this guide is not intended as a DIY solution, and attempting to repair your heating system yourself can be hazardous, not only to the system but also to your personal safety. It’s essential to leave heating system repairs to the professionals.

The purpose of this article is to familiarize you with common heating problems so that you can better prepare for an estimate and even identify potentially dishonest contractors.

Checking Your Ducted Heating System for Problems

  1. Start with the Breaker or Fuse Box: For electrically operated heating systems, your first step should be to check the breaker or fuse box. If a breaker is flipped or a fuse is blown, your solution might be as simple as resetting the breaker or replacing the fuse.
  2. Troubleshooting the Thermostat: If the issue persists even after dealing with the breaker or fuse box, check your thermostat. Sometimes, well-meaning friends and family members may change the thermostat settings or turn it off without informing you. Ensure that the thermostat settings are within the normal range.
  3. Inspect and Change Air Filters: Unless you have specialized electrostatic filters, changing the air filter is a task you can handle. Filters should typically be replaced monthly. Neglecting this maintenance can affect your system’s efficiency due to restricted airflow. Prolonged filter neglect can lead to more severe problems. If changing the filter doesn’t resolve the issue, it’s time to contact a professional.

Identify Your Heating and Cooling System

Understanding your heating system is crucial because different systems have unique requirements. There are three primary types of heating systems: Heat pumps, furnaces, and boilers.

  • Heat Pumps: Heat pumps have gained popularity for their ability to move warm air to cooler areas and vice versa. These units are usually located outdoors, although some operate indoors.
  • Furnaces: Furnaces are typically found indoors, often in less visible locations like the attic, garage, basement, or a dedicated closet. Furnaces directly heat the air and distribute it through ducts.
  • Boilers: Boilers heat water within pipes and radiators. This heated water can either heat specific rooms or be distributed through ductwork. While fewer homes use room radiators these days, both boilers and furnaces often rely on natural gas as their heating fuel.

Keeping Your Head With Heating Repair Service

Heating repair problems typically result from two main causes: faulty installation and inadequate maintenance. If you’ve had someone attempt to fix your heating problem previously, it’s possible they didn’t adequately address the issue or may have inadvertently caused additional problems.

When you request an estimate from a contractor, they will likely inquire if you’ve already checked the breaker/fuse box, thermostat, and filters. By having completed these steps in advance, you’ll save time and effort during the estimation process. The contractor can then focus on examining the ductwork, delving deeper into the thermostat, and assessing the heater itself.

In summary, as you seek estimates for your heating system repairs, you’ll have already trimmed about 15 minutes off each contractor’s estimation process. This time-saving can help you find the right contractor more efficiently, getting your home warm and comfortable sooner.

Additionally, this knowledge can help you discern contractors who may misidentify your heating system, such as claiming you have a “radiator leak” when you indeed have a furnace. Familiarity with your system will empower you to make informed decisions when seeking professional assistance for your heating needs. (L&H Network)

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