I have found 6 homes so far this winter with no heat. Every week I check homes for customers in our Winter Watch program, and I have found homes as cold as 35 degrees. In each case, thankfully, the problem was caught in time and no pipes froze and burst. I found a Delavan Lake home at 37 degrees inside. This was the easiest of fixes—the thermostat was set to the “off” position. It was a simple human error with potentially expensive consequences.
Another home in Fontana was at 54 degrees. The furnace had been serviced only two days before, but then a circuit board in the furnace failed. This can happen at any time, with no direct cause. The primary factor in this case was the age of the furnace.
During below zero temperatures we make extra checks. On one morning when it was 6 below, I found a thermostat set at 62 but reading 60. At first glance it appeared fine, the blower was running, but the burner was not turning on. The problem in this instance was that the drain hose for the furnace was clogged. It tripped a sensor and shut off the burner but not the fan.
Here are some things you can do to prevent furnace failures:
Regular service–The first course of action is regular service by a qualified technician. Preventative maintenance and cleaning is necessary not only for furnace function but for safety to check for carbon monoxide leaks.
Consider an upgrade—A furnace may check out completely fine, but past performance is no guarantee of future results. If your furnace is not so new anymore you may want to take a proactive step and replace it. You will likely see an improvement in efficiency as well.
Invest in remotely controlled thermostats—these allow you to check your home’s temperature from your mobile phone. You can program these to send you a text message if the temperature drops below a threshold you set. These run about $250 per thermostat.
Have your home checked regularly—there is no substitute for physically showing up and inspecting a property, not only for furnace function, but for natural gas leaks, pest invasion, security, etc.
-John Rees Property Services Manager
Common causes of Furnace Failure
- Thermostat set improperly
- Power outage Circuit breaker tripped
- Clogged filter
- Thermostat failure
- Faulty pilot
- Natural gas regulator failure
- Age of furnace
- Regular furnace service
- Upgrade to a newer furnace
- Remotely controlled thermostats
- Regular home checks