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Faulty Furnaces Keeping Repair Techs Busy

January 3, 2010

Furnaces are running non-stop during this deep freeze and many can't keep up. Furnace repair companies are getting up to four times as many calls as they normally do.

"A lot of times we're working around the clock, " says Jeremy Barr with the Crawford Company. "Nobody wants to wait when it's below zero outside and the houses cool down real fast. I've been in houses that have been down to 32 degrees."

Jamie Crawford noticed his Bettendorf house wasn't as warm as it should be, so he figured his furnace was acting up. "It was turning on intermittently, not as often as it typically would when it's this cold out."

Barr says furnaces tend to break down when you need them the most - in the extreme cold when they're constantly running. The problems he sees most are overheated motors, faulty igniters and bad circuit boards. "They pretty much control the whole furnace, so if one thing goes wrong on the circuit board, nothing's going to work."

In Jamie Crawford's case, the burners needed a good cleaning. It's relatively easy fix, but one he says is better left to the experts. "I like to do a lot of things myself around the house, but when it comes to the furnace, I like the pros to take care of that."

You might think you're giving your furnace a break by turning the thermostat down at night or when you're not home, but when it's this cold, Barr say that actually makes your furnace work harder when you turn the heat back up.

Two other things he recommends to help prevent furnace problems: change the filter often and keep fresh batteries in your thermostat.