The Most Common Winter Heating Issues and How To Address Them

The Most Common Winter Heating Issues and How To Address Them

What are the Most Common Winter Heating Issues?

If there’s one thing you would want to avoid during the winter, your HVAC system acting up would be it.

A malfunctioning heating system is, hands-down, one of the worst things that could happen to anybody in the middle of winter.

Want to know more about common winter heating issues? Then keep reading.

It’s bad enough for people living in areas with mild winters to deal with heating problems.

Can you imagine how miserable residents of states with incredibly harsh winters are going to be if their HVAC systems break down while thermometers are hitting -30 °F or lower?

While most heating and air conditioning repair companies continue to provide their services in winter.

You might find it hard to get them to your place immediately, given the weather conditions.

You might have to wait a while to get that kind of service, and that will leave you and your family shivering in the cold for hours, maybe even days.

Ideally, your HVAC system should undergo a tune-up in autumn.

If you failed or forgot to do so, the more likely it becomes for the following problems to rear their ugly heads in the middle of winter:

Short Cycling

It’s perfectly normal for furnaces to turn on and off—also referred to as cycling—the entire time it’s running.

However, when cycling occurs far too frequently, your home won’t be able to reach your desired temperature.

Short cycling also reduces your heating system’s efficiency, which naturally leads to higher utility bills.

Clogged air filters or thermostat issues may be causing your furnace to short cycle.

Replace your air filters and check if your thermostat is broken.

If the frequent cycling continues despite fresh filters and a thermostat that appears to function normally, you might want to contact an HVAC professional to find the cause of the problem.

Uneven Heating

Few things are as annoying as walking from a perfectly heated room into another area of the house that feels like the inside of a freezer.

While the uneven heating may be caused by dirty coils, vents, filters, or air ducts in your heating system.

The problem may be caused by insufficient insulation in your home.

There might be cracks, gaps, or holes all over your house, allowing heated air to escape.

Check the weatherstripping on your doors and windows to see if they’re still in place.

You might also want to put up heavy-duty curtains for extra insulation.

Unusual Noises

Furnaces produce certain noises, and they can be perfectly normal. You shouldn’t be alarmed when you hear pops or a humming sound from a furnace in operation.


However, you should never ignore the following noises when you hear them coming out of your furnace: 

  • Loud bang or pop upon powering up—When you turn on your furnace, and you get startled by a loud bang or pop, your furnace’s burners may be already dirty enough to delay ignition. This is caused by gas buildup, which eventually causes a tiny explosion. If this happens frequently, your furnace’s heat exchanger could suffer cracks and cause a carbon monoxide leak.
  • Scraping—It’s hard to ignore scraping sounds from your furnace. A broken blower wheel might be causing it, which will be a problem because that means your furnace will be rendered unable to heat your home correctly. It’s also likely that some metallic parts of your furnace have come loose and are now rubbing against other metallic components. 
  • Squealing—There could be something wrong with your blower motor if your furnace is creating this noise. It could also be a worn-out blower belt. Whatever is causing it, a squealing sound coming from the furnace is an indication something needs repairing or replacing.

Call a trusted HVAC technician when you hear these unusual noises emanating from your furnace.

Not Enough Heat

There are several reasons your heating system is not producing enough heat to keep everyone warm. Even when it’s running full blast.

One of the most probable culprits for the lack of heat is a clogged air filter.

Aside from causing a furnace to short cycle, a dirty air filter can also cause poor airflow, which means the heated air is having a tough time pushing through all the dirt and grime.

Check the air filter and replace it immediately when necessary.

faulty thermostat may also be to blame, so make sure it’s still working and that the batteries are fresh. 

Sometimes, it’s problems with your furnace’s pilot light that’s causing the lack of heat.

It might have gone out due to a draft or dirt buildup on the gas intake valve.

While you can relight the pilot light yourself, it would be best to call an HVAC professional to do it.

Especially if you’re uncomfortable about relighting it or cleaning the intake valve.

However, if the heat is still not enough despite a perfectly working pilot light, the problem could be with the main burners, flame sensor, or the control board. In that case, only an HVAC specialist can provide the best solution.

Carbon Monoxide leaks

While a furnace is the best heating system, especially in icy regions, the fact that it burns fuel means there is a risk for a carbon monoxide leak, which could happen if there is a crack in your furnace’s heat exchanger.

Given how deadly this tasteless, colorless, and odorless gas can be, you would do well to install carbon monoxide detectors in strategic spots inside your home.

They will alert you to a leak, giving you and your loved ones enough time to get out of the house safely.

While you can call professionals to locate the leak and plug it, taking steps to prevent it from happening in the first place is still the wiser route.

If you’ve been using the same furnace for 10 years or longer, get a professional to inspect it right before firing it up to ensure that its heat exchanger has no cracks. 

What To Do Next?

While doing things, the DIY way can work if you actually know what you’re doing.

Having experienced heating and air conditioning specialists over is still your best option when dealing with serious winter heating problems.

With their help, you can rest assured that you and your loved ones will stay warm and toasty for the rest of the chilly season.

If you are looking for a quality furnace technician in your local area, then check out our page on Furnace Services to learn more and see if a Phyxter Technician is available.

Russell Jones

VP of Operations @ Phyxter and Home Improvement Specialist

About our blog

Phyxter (pronounced Fix-ter) is a national home services brand specializing in Residential HVAC, Electrical and Plumbing solutions.

Phyxter is laser-focused on writing the best articles and guides to empower homeowners to get the best out of their homes.

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