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Atlantic Refrigeration and Air Conditioning, Inc. Blog

Why Your Furnace Is Overheating and What Can You Do About It?


Any powered mechanical device can potentially overheat. A furnace, a powerful device designed to generate heat, is especially susceptible to overheating. You’ll know that your home’s furnace is overheating if it keeps shutting down early and you notice a burning odor coming from the vents. You may also notice a humming sound coming from the furnace, which indicates a motor that’s overworking. 

The first thing you need to know in this situation is that the furnace is acting the way it should in case of overheating: it’s shutting off. Gas furnaces are designed with safety features that will shut the system down when overheating occurs. The furnace’s limit switch detects a temperature that’s too high and turns off the heating cycle.

You still need to have furnace repair in Milford to fix the furnace—you absolutely don’t want to risk any potential furnace dangers, and continuing to run the furnace puts it at risk of burnt-out motors and even more expensive repairs. 

Reasons for a Furnace Overheating

These are the most common causes of a furnace overheating:

  • Restricted airflow: Without proper air circulation through a furnace, parts will start to overheat. The usual source for airflow problems is a clogged furnace filter that’s been left in place. Change out the furnace’s filter to see if this stops the furnace from shutting down early. 
  • Short-cycling: This is when a furnace prematurely stops its heating cycle and then turns back on again a short time later. This will cause extra strain on the furnace’s motors that can lead to them burning out. There are many reasons for a furnace short-cycling, such as a malfunctioning thermostat or a furnace that is too powerful for the house. A furnace overheating also causes short-cycling, meaning the furnace is essentially caught in a vicious circle.
  • Electrical and mechanical failures: A gas furnace still uses electrical parts, such as motors and a control board. These can burn out and trigger the furnace to overheat and shut down. When you notice an acrid smell from the furnace, it’s warning you of either a motor that’s failing or electrical problems in the control board. 

How to Take Care of an Overheating Furnace

If changing out the air filter doesn’t fix the problem, please don’t attempt any repairs to the furnace on your own. (And yes, we’re including an electric furnace!) At this point, the furnace needs the work of professionals to fix it properly and safely. 

We recommend you shut off the furnace at the furnace switch and turn off the gas flow to it. Then call our technicians—we offer 24-hour service to handle problems exactly like this. We can discover the source of the trouble and find out what needs to be done to get the furnace back to work without any safety concerns. For older furnaces, we may recommend replacing the unit if repairs are too prohibitive or the current furnace is a safety hazard. 

At Atlantic Refrigeration & Air Conditioning, Inc. “We Take Pride in Your Comfort!” Call us 24/7 to schedule furnace repair services.

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