The temperature outside is dropping, and it’s time to fire up your home’s furnace to keep everyone cozy. You go to the thermostat and adjust the temperature for warmth. But as the furnace comes on, it abruptly shuts down. You check on the circuit breaker panel, and find that one of the breakers has tripped. You re-set it, turn on the furnace again… and it once more trips the circuit breaker and shuts down.
What’s going on? And what can you do about it?
Reasons a Furnace Might Trip a Circuit Breaker
A breaker trips when there is a circuit overload. You may have noticed that a breaker will trip when there are too many appliances plugged into one outlet. If your furnace places too much demand on its electrical circuit, the breaker will trip. (Yes, this can occur with a gas furnace. Gas furnaces contain important electrical components, such as the blower motor.) Here are some furnace issues that may cause this to happen:
- Clogged air filter: This is the most common cause for a furnace overstraining. If the filter is congested with heavy amounts of dust and dirt, the restriction on airflow will place stress on the blower motor in the air handler, and this can overload the circuit. Replace the filter with a clean one to see if this solves the problem. (Make sure to regularly change the filter to prevent future problems.)
- Blocked air vents: The vents around a house must remain unobstructed so that there won’t be a rise in pressure inside the ventilation system. If the pressure rises, it forces more work from the blower. Check to see that no vents have been accidentally blocked with moved furniture.
- Air duct leaks: Leaky air ducts will lead to many problems with an HVAC system, including a furnace that trips the circuit breaker. Air escaping from these leaks means the furnace’s blower fan must work even harder—and again, this can cause a circuit overload. Repairing leaking ductwork requires trained technicians.
- Motor malfunction in the furnace: The strain on the circuit may be due to a faulty motor in the furnace that is drawing on extra electricity. The faulty part will need heating repair technicians to replace it.
Don’t Keep Resetting the Breaker!
If you’re experiencing a furnace that keeps tripping the breaker, don’t keep resetting the breaker and “soldiering on.” A tripped breaker is a warning: it’s trying to protect the electrical system from damage. Never ignore these warnings. Call on heating repair professionals if there isn’t a simple solution like changing the filter.
The Importance of Heating Specialists
It’s solving problems like a furnace that habitually trips a circuit breaker that makes heating specialists so important. An electrician may be able to find out if there’s trouble with the electrical panel itself or the rest of the electrical system, but it takes an HVAC professionals to determine exactly what is wrong with a furnace—and then fix it. This is particularly important if you have a natural gas furnace, the most common type of heating system found in homes. For safety reasons, only licensed heating professionals should work on diagnosing and repairing a malfunctioning gas furnace.
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