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Your heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) system does so much for you! It keeps you warm and cozy during the cold autumn and winter months, cools you off during the spring and summer, and—if you’re changing your filters regularly like you should—helps to improve the air quality year-round by filtering out dust, debris, and other particulate matter that can get into your ventilation system. Like anything else that’s mechanical in nature and runs pretty much constantly all year long, parts are likely to suffer wear and tear over time. As your Olathe heating and cooling pros, we’ve written articles in the past addressing signs that you may need a furnace replacement or how to tell if your air conditioner needs to be replaced, but for this article we wanted to hit upon some general HVAC troubleshooting tips and go over what to look for and when to call in the experts.

First, Consult Your Owner’s Manual. If it seems like there’s something not quite right with your furnace, air conditioner, or heat pump, the best place to start heating or cooling troubleshooting is with your owner’s manual, if you have one. Most manuals contain a “troubleshooting” section that will help get you started and give you tips specific to your unit.

Then, Turn It All OFF. With computers, the answer is often to “turn it off, then turn it on again.” With your home HVAC system, turning it off is less likely to solve the problem on its own, but it is going to help protect you as you troubleshoot. If you suspect that something is wrong with your HVAC system, shut it off at the thermostat first. Then shut off the electricity to the furnace. You can usually do this via a power switch or “furnace disconnect” switch at the furnace itself rather than shutting off the power at the main circuit breaker panel.

Check the Breaker. Speaking of circuit breakers, if your HVAC system suddenly stops working, go check the breaker panel or fuse box. It’s possible that a fuse is blown or a circuit breaker has just flipped and needs to be reset, and that’s all you’ll need to do to get your HVAC system humming along again in no time.

Check Your Filters. They go by a lot of names—home HVAC filters, air filters, furnace filters—but no matter what you call them, these removable square or rectangular filters are vital to keeping your home HVAC system running properly, and you can easily monitor and change them yourself. Filters should be changed regularly every month or so. If you notice problems with your system, check your filters. If they’re clogged or otherwise not up to snuff, it’s possible that they’re causing the trouble. Clogged or incorrectly sized filters restrict airflow and can put added stress on the whole system, and they won’t be able to do their job of filtering out particulate matter from the air. Not sure where your furnace filter is located? It should be in a slot near the blower compartment of your furnace. Still need help? We can show you how to change your filters when we come out to do a tune-up.

Check Your Thermostat. Many people are surprised to learn that thermostats are the cause of many HVAC problems. If you have a smart thermostat that runs on batteries, a good first step is to change the batteries to see if anything changes. A thermostat may seem to be running fine, even when it isn’t getting adequate power to do all that it needs to do. You should also check your thermostat’s temperature settings. They can be changed by accident (or by your kids) surprisingly easily. Ultimately, if the thermostat has power and the temperature settings are correct, it may be time to look elsewhere or call in the Olathe heating and cooling service pros.

Check Vents and Returns for Obstructions. If you’re experiencing uneven heating or cooling in the home, an obstructed vent may be the culprit. Fortunately, we’ve written an extensive article addressing causes and possible solutions, but it’s a good general idea to be sure that your vents aren’t shut or covered by something. It’s also good to ensure that vents and returns are clean and free from dust and debris.

Inspect Your Ductwork. Your vents are merely the visible expressions of an elaborate series of ductwork that runs throughout your house. Exposed ductwork may be visible in your basement or utility room. Punctures or blockages in the vents can restrict airflow or allow air that has already been conditioned to escape, leading to uneven heating or cooling throughout the house.

Call In the Pros. If you’re having trouble with your system, we hope these HVAC troubleshooting tips will get you started on finding a solution. When in doubt, though, the best thing to do is to call the heating and cooling professionals. You can certainly do things yourself to maintain your home HVAC system, but there’s really no substitute for a maintenance inspection and tune-up from your local heating and cooling specialists. In fact, you should have your HVAC system inspected by a professional at least twice a year. The typical heating and cooling system checkup from Davenport Service Company includes more than two dozen procedures. Some of them are tailored to the specific season, while others are good general practices all year round. While we’re there, we can also walk you through some of the things we covered in this article, including showing you how to change your air filters and ensuring you’re using the filters that your system needs.

Whether you’ve got questions about heating or cooling troubleshooting or just want to schedule your HVAC system’s next tune-up, give Davenport Service Company a call at 913-441-2222 today! Our experienced heating and cooling technicians will be happy to answer any questions you might have and do whatever it takes to get your HVAC system running smoothly, whether it’s the dead of winter or the dog days of summer.

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