For homeowners living here in Southern Ontario, one of our biggest fears is dealing with a furnace issue during our infamous winters. Who dreads the thought of waking up cold in the middle of the night with a furnace problem and panicking because we have no idea how to fix it?
HERE ARE SOME QUICK FACTS FROM AN INSURANCE PERSPECTIVE:
- Roughly 20% of fire claims that are traced back to heating appliances are the result of a malfunctioning furnace.
- The type of heating system your home uses is a factor most insurance companies use to evaluate risk and ultimately what your rate will be or even whether or not they will insure you. Oil tanks and wood heat cause the most concern, while natural gas furnaces and electric heat normally mean lower insurance risk and perhaps even cost.
- Keep all rooms in your house warm! If a room is not heated you could have damage caused by freezing pipes.
So not only does knowing how to properly repair and maintain your homes furnace good for your personal comfort and safety, it could also save you big bucks and headaches.
If properly maintaining your home heating system is something you would like to start taking more seriously, here are 3 of the more common furnace issues and how to fix them.
1. CLOGGED FILTER
If your furnace is working but not producing enough heat, the issue may be a clogged filter which is luckily an easy one to fix. Locate your filter (which is normally very easy to find without any tools), and pull it out to be replaced with a new filter. If you do not have a spare filter standing by, at least knock the debris off the filter and put it back in before adding filters to your shopping list. We recommend replacing your furnace filter proactively twice a year, once in the fall and again in the spring, setting reminders in your calendar to do so. A few dollars per filter and a little forethought can go a very long way.
2. PILOT LIGHT OUT
Some newer furnace systems ignite electronically, while others, especially those installed before 2000, still use the traditional pilot light. First, if you notice your pilot light is out, it is still best to be safe by setting your switch to OFF and let the furnace air out for 5 minutes. Note: if you smell gas or suspect a leak, immediately call a professional! After airing out, switch your gas valve from OFF to PILOT and hold down to let gas into the pilot. Keep holding the bypass button while using a long BBQ lighter to insert a flame over the pilot assembly. Keep holding the bypass button for another 30 seconds to allow the thermocouple to heat up. This will keep the flame burning. Finally, set the gas valve from PILOT to ON and turn on your thermostat. If your pilot light keeps going out, it might be an issue with your thermocouple and you should call a professional.
3. BLOWER NOT WORKING
If the furnace seems to be functioning properly but heat is not reaching most parts of your house, there could be an issue with the blower whose job it is to draw heat from the furnace and distribute it. The most obvious thing to do first is to check for any debris or build up that is interfering with the blower. Beyond that we recommend oiling the blower once a year before the winter to ensure its running smoothly and to extend the life of the furnace. If the blower does not run properly after ensuring it is clear of debris and well oiled, there may be something wrong with the part so a professional needs to be called.
HOW MUCH DOES A NEW FURNACE COST?
The reason most people are understandably motivated to fix their furnace (in addition to getting it up and running quickly and avoiding a big repair bill) is that buying a new furnace can get expensive.
In Ontario people are spending at least $2,500 on a new furnace installation. For a high efficiency furnace most people in Ontario are paying between $3,000 and $5,000 but it can be even more for some top of the line models.
Other factors that can affect the final cost of a new furnace include:
- Furnace location (some are not so easily accessible in the home)
- Upgrades to vents (replacing an older furnace may require retrofitting the duct work)
- Updated safety codes (more vent, piping and electrical wire upgrades required)
So next time there is news of another polar vortex heading our way, take some comfort in knowing you are now a little better equipped to deal with a furnace issue.
If you have any questions about your homes heating system and how it affects your insurance please do not hesitate to contact us.
Please contact us with any questions you may have about this or any other topic related to your insurance.