Fall is here! Those first few chilly nights mean blankets, sweaters, and … a blast of frigid air from your vents?! That’s not right! There are a few reasons why the heating and cooling system in your Havertown, PA home is blowing cold air. You can fix some of them yourself. Others will require a call for furnace repair.
Either way, don’t ignore the problem! Even a small issue can become an emergency heating and cooling situation if you let it go on for too long.
But, lucky for you, we’re here to help you prevent that from happening. In this article, we’ll troubleshoot the most common causes of this problem. And, we’ll let you know when you call in a pro.
Four Common Reasons Your Heater Blows Cold Air
We’ll break down what to check when your heater blows cold air — and how to fix each one.
- Thermostat Is On Wrong Setting (Or Broke)
- Vents Are Closed Or Blocked
- The Air Filter Is Clogged
- Heater Is Too Big For the House
Thermostat Is On Wrong Setting (Or Broke)
Is your thermostat on the wrong setting? Go ahead and check. If it’s on “Cool” or “Fan Only,” this could be the problem. Don’t worry. We won’t tell anyone.
In all seriousness, it’s easy to forget about switching the setting after the summer. People get busy, and it’s likely you just turned on the system and set the temperature.
But, if it’s on cooling and your home is still warmer than the call setting, then your AC will kick on. Then there’s “Fan Only.” This setting circulates air through the house without warming or cooling it. So, if the air in your home is chilly, then the air coming through the vents is cold.
How To Fix It
Simple fix: Set it to heat! Then see what happens when your furnace kicks on. If the air’s warm, you’re all set.
Vents Are Closed Or Blocked
Your next step is a visual inspection of all the vents in your home. And, visual starts here: Can you see them all? If not, there’s a problem.
Each vent needs at least a foot of clearance around it. Otherwise, the air can’t circulate the way it should. It can become a real problem if there’s a big piece of furniture in front of one or more of these.
If warm air coming through the ducts has nowhere to go, it backs up into your heater. Eventually, it can cause the furnace to overheat.
Yes, you read that right: Your heating system can get too hot! It’s built to generate that warmth, not house it.
If things get too warm in there, the system sends a blast of cold air to cool things back down. That’s what you feel coming through the vents.
And, it’s a problem you want to fix right away. All those sudden temperature swings stress and crack the metal. And eventually, you’ll end up making an emergency furnace repair call.
But, you’ll likely need a new heater at that point. If the heat exchanger cracks, you have to replace the whole unit. It’s neither safe nor practical to fix that part.
How To Fix It
Make sure each vent has a foot of open space around it. Move furniture around if you have to. And, make sure that each vent is open. Many come with a tab that you can use to shut the vent in a room you’re not using.
At most, you should only use this when the system is not running. It’s a way to prevent some dust and dirt from getting in there. But, once things are running, you want all that air to escape.
The Air Filter Is Clogged
If you haven’t changed your air filter in a while, you’ve likely found the problem. These small screens trap dust and dirt, and they clog if you leave them in too long.
Ideally, you should put in a new one each month. If the old one is gray when you take it out, it’s been in there too long. And, it’s likely clogged.
At that point, the screen won’t even let air pass through. Then, you’re in the same position as with the blocked vents: Heat backing up into the system.
How To Fix It
Change your air filter once a month, and check the arrows on the frame. The arrow should always point toward the furnace so the incoming air coming flows through the screen.
Heater Is Too Big For the House
The final problem is bigger in scope than the others but in a way the same: If your furnace is too powerful for your house, then heats backs up into it. That causes the blast of cold air.
Your furnace needs to be right-sized for your house. If it’s too strong, then it pushes out way too much heat at once. That warmth has nowhere to go, so it backs up into the heating and cooling system.
As you know by now, this causes cold air to blow through the vents. You may also notice the system short cycling: turning on for less than a minute before turning off again over and over every few minutes.
This occurs because the blast of hot hits the thermostat, which now thinks the job is done. But, heaters should stay on for a while, so you get a lot of warmth building up in the space.
With one quick blast, there’s not enough lingering heat to keep things warm.
How To Fix It
There are only two solutions, and both are expensive: Extend your ductwork or get a new furnace.
If you add enough new ductwork with more exhausts, then you’ll increase the amount of pressure necessary to push the air all through the house. This way, all that extra strength gets put to good use.
The only other option is getting a smaller system. Since ductwork design, fabrication and installation can be costly, it’s often the better choice.
To avoid this happening again, make sure you use a reputable HVAC contractor that knows how to do a proper load calculation.
HVAC Service in Havertown, PA
With any luck, your DIY fixes will solve the problem of your heater blowing cold air through your Havertown, PA home. But, if it doesn’t, call or email us here at John Cipollone for HVAC service right away.
Heater Installation In Broomall, PA
If it’s time for a new system in your home, John Cipollone, Inc is the place to call! Since 1953, homeowners and businesses have trust us for heater installation in Broomall, PA and across the Main Line. We’ll help you choose the best new system for your home or business. And, we’ll install the properly the first time!