With the change in seasons comes the change in temperatures, both outside and inside your house. As homeowners prepare for colder weather it’s vital to have a functional and reliable furnace. No one wants to deal with a broken furnace during the midst of winter. This is why fall is the perfect time to check over your furnace components to make sure nothing looks irregular. Furnaces have many parts that coordinate together. Even with the loss of one component, the furnace can shut down. In addition, it can create strain on other components, leading to further problems. The furnace vent pipe is one of those important components.

In order for heated air to be distributed throughout your home, a furnace will create it by burning gas. This process is what creates heat, water vapor, and carbon dioxide. In addition to producing by-products like toxic gas molecules from the combustion process. Another important component of the furnace is an inducer fan. This fan creates a draft to move these gasses out the furnace exhaust vent. In doing so, it helps keep these toxic gasses from contaminating your home and affecting your family’s health.

The Importance of the Furnace Vent

It is so crucial that your furnace exhaust vent remains free of any type of buildup or blockage. Without the proper airflow moving through the furnace, it won’t have enough oxygen to complete the heating process properly. Additionally, the lack of ventilation won’t allow the furnace to remove harmful gasses from the air as it heats up. This can trigger a safety feature causing the furnace to shut down. This safety mechanism helps prevent carbon monoxide from leaking and seeping into the air within your home. Furthermore, obstacles blocking the furnace vent causes the furnace to work harder and drive up energy costs. Some common sources of vent blockage are:

  • Rodents/bird nests
  • Branches/leaves
  • Snow blockage
  • Soot buildup 
  • Damage
  • Corrosion/rust 

It’s important to shut down the furnace and inspect the furnace vent pipe if you suspect something could be blocking it.

How to Tell if Something is Blocking the Furnace Vent

  • The Furnace Doesn’t Respond

Thanks to specific safety features like the pressure switch, if it doesn’t activate, the furnace won’t even turn on. This helps ensure a furnace has the proper amount of airflow to operate safely. The pressure switch is triggered by airflow created by the inducer fan. So if there’s a blockage in the furnace exhaust vent, the fan won’t be able to create an air draft. Which in turn, won’t allow the pressure switch to activate or the furnace to heat up. 

  • Furnace Short Cycling

Noticing your furnace shutting on and off before permanently shutting down and needing a reboot? This is also a sign of a possible furnace vent blockage. Rather than blocking off airflow completely, there is some current of air flowing through. Even so, it is not enough to allow the furnace to operate accurately. Rather than being contained in the combustion chamber, the flames spread out to other parts of the furnace. Detecting the abnormal heat and shutting off the furnace is the job of another safety feature called the flame rollout switch. Once the flames are out, the furnace will start back up to try again until it permanently shuts down. However, if the rollout switch is broken or malfunctioning, it won’t shut down the furnace. Which allows the flames to heat up other parts of the furnace like the front cover panel.

  • Bad Odors

Toxic gas molecules produce an unmistakable odor. Toxic gasses that are unable to travel out the furnace vent will seep into the surrounding air. Immediately shut down your furnace if you notice any weird odors around your furnace or coming through the floor vents. Then check to make sure your furnace vent is free of any blockage or buildup.

Let Satterlee Handle All Your Furnace Issues

A malfunctioning furnace due to a blocked furnace vent can lead to dangerous situations or a complete brea. So if your furnace is having problems, reach out to us at Satterlee for an inspection! Our professional HVAC technicians can diagnose your furnace and fix the issue before it becomes a bigger problem.  In addition to repairs, we also provide other heating services such as reliable installations and a quality maintenance regime. We look forward to helping keep your furnace running smoothly this fall and winter season!


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