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The last thing you want on cold, windy days is the furnace to stop working. Heating, ventilation, and air-conditioning (HVAC) systems are affected by the wind throughout the year, and cold winds may not only cause your furnace to stop heating but also blow in cold air from the outside to make it worse.
To fix your furnace that’s not working when it’s windy, check if the vent pipes are placed in such a way as to catch the cold air and blow it inside, check if the vents have caught any flying debris, check for any damaged parts in contact with vents and ducts that need repairing and maintenance.
In this article, I’ll go through all possible reasons for a furnace to stop working on windy days, as well as explain how you can fix each issue. I’ll also let you in on the easiest way to fix your furnace when it’s windy. (Check the bottom of the article.)
Let’s get started!
Check if the Vent Pipes Are in the Direction of the Wind
The first thing you should do when the furnace is only faulty on windy days is to go outside and find the vents outside your house/apartment. If the wind is blowing in such a way that the vents are catching it, then you found your problem.
The cold wind may enter the vents and cause the flame to burn out. Thus, the air is not warmed, and the furnace stops working. The flame will try to light back up multiple times and increase the utility bill while not providing any heat.
To address the issue, follow these steps:
- Locate the exhaust vents of your house/apartment.
- Add a curved pipe at the end, so the wind is trapped around the curvature.
- Point the exhaust pipe towards the ground.
- The intake pipe should be far away from the exhaust pipe and pointed in opposite directions.
Adding curvatures to vents is a daunting task, so watching a YouTube video of turning vents at 90-degree angles can help and save time:
Check for Damaged Parts
High-speed wind can blow debris into the vents that can damage ducts or the HVAC system. Additionally, some parts may become loose and get dirty due to wind and dust, which would cause them to malfunction.
This causes the HVAC system to struggle and may release odors and produce sounds that should not be coming from furnaces and vents.
You should follow these steps to fix the problem:
- Check if there are unusual sounds coming from the vents or furnace.
- Physically check vents for damage or parts that have become loose.
- If there is physical damage, we recommend calling an expert as HVAC systems are complex and expensive, and novices can cause more damage when repairing vents.
Check for Unusual Amounts of Dust
Dust is normal in everyday life. However, if the dust settles on surfaces quickly after a cleaning, you might have a dust problem. Combined with high winds, this can result in your HVAC system to completely stop working.
Many factors can cause excessive dusting, and HVAC technicians recommend thorough cleaning every two months. Additionally, high minimum efficiency reporting value (MERV) rating filters are recommended to catch even the smallest particles from entering the HVAC system.
Below, you will find the steps on how to fix the problem.
- Check vents for excessive lint and dust.
- Locate areas where dust builds up more than other areas of the house.
- Change filters if dust is found to be excessive.
- If the problem persists, perform a pressure test to check for leaks in the vents.
- Clean and seal the ducts.
It is recommended to call professionals if the problem is not solved after step 3.
These are the major issues and fixes that usually cause furnaces to stop working on windy days, but there are many other issues that cause furnaces to stop working. These issues and their most common fixes are discussed as well in this article.
Check the Thermostat
This is a very basic issue that is more common than people think. Thermostats can stop working overtime or suddenly. They control your heating system’s temperature, so a faulty thermostat may be the cause of the furnace not to work properly.
If you want to fix the issue, follow the steps below.
- Set the thermostat to 10 degrees above the room temperature.
- Check the furnace’s flame.
- If the flame does not turn on, then the issue may be the thermostat.
- Clean grime and dust from the thermostat housing and check the connections.
- Change the batteries if the display is turned off on the screen.
This is the most common issue that plagues HVAC systems. Dust and grime is the major factor that affects heating. Professional HVAC technicians cite lack of maintenance as the number 1 reason for service calls throughout the year. Some common issues are:
- Blower motor: Cool air is required for the blower motor to dissipate heat and function properly. Overheating will cause it to blow up, and the whole system will come to a halt.
- Flame sensor: Layers of grime cover flame sensors over time. The system is not able to light the burners, and the flame sensor cannot function properly.
- Burner: Burners also need to be cleaned. The flame might be reduced, so they will turn on but not provide heat as intended.
- Valve: If the flame would not even turn on, there may be an issue with the gas valve. Again, a cleaning would be the best fix to this problem.
The simplest fix to all these issues is scheduling a yearly appointment with an HVAC technician. Yearly inspections get rid of issues before they become problems and cause inconvenience.
Oil Furnace Issues
Much like gas furnaces, oil furnaces need regular maintenance and cleaning to function properly. However, oil furnaces have unique issues and fixes that do not apply to gas furnaces.
In the United States, oil furnaces are most commonly found in the North-Eastern region and use oil instead of gas for heating purposes. Some common oil furnace issues are:
- Fuel: As oil is the main source of combustion, if the fuel tank is empty, the furnace will not work and provide heat.
- Oil filter: Oil filters, like air filters in gas furnaces, accumulate dust, grime, and debris. They need to be cleaned or changed regularly. However, as they filter oil instead of air, this process is more difficult than simply changing an air filter.
Changing oil filters is tricky, so here’s a video showing all the steps to change them: