Blocked Furnace Exhaust Vent

Troubleshooting Tips for When Your Home Loses Heat

When your furnace stops working in the middle of a northern Illinois winter, it’s vital that you figure out what’s wrong quickly. Many different things can cause a heating system to stop putting out heat. But some of the potential reasons, like a blocked exhaust vent, might be something a homeowner can fix themselves.

In this helpful article from Maximum Heating & Air Conditioning, we’ll explain what a furnace exhaust vent is, how it can get clogged, and what troubleshooting steps may fix the problem.

What is a Furnace Exhaust Vent?

As a furnace heats your home, it is also creating gases that need to be safely expelled. You can think of it like how we breathe, taking in oxygen and then exhaling carbon dioxide.

A furnace produces exhaust that gets funneled in pipes to be expelled completely outside your home. The furnace exhaust vent is the part of your heating system that allows these gases to leave your home.

Most modern heating systems have both a combustion air intake pipe and also a combustion air exhaust pipe.

Blocked Exhaust Vent: 3 Signs to Look For

Suddenly losing heat in your home may be the first sign of a blocked exhaust vent. If the bad gases aren’t getting expelled from the home, your system could shut down as a safety mechanism. But there are other potential signs and indications your furnace exhaust vent may be blocked or clogged. And, of course, there are other reasons why a furnace may have stopped putting out heat.

Knowing the signs of a blocked exhaust vent is helpful for maintaining a safe and functional furnace.

  1. Bad Smells: Unusual odors could indicate a blocked vent. After all, you could be having exhaust leaked inside your home.  If a carbon monoxide detector goes off, you should shut off your furnace right away. This is a safety concern and should be considered an emergency.
  2. Furnace is Short Cycling: Are you hearing your heater turn on and off frequently repeatedly? That is called short cycling. Your furnace is likely trying to heat up your home to the desired temperature, but a problem is activating a safety mechanism, which shuts it down.
  3. Not as Warm & Cozy. A blocked furnace exhaust vent can decrease your heating systems’ overall ability to keep your house consistently warm. A clogged vent can reduce the amount airflow needed to adequately heat your entire home.

What Can Block an Exhaust Vent?

Since this is a component that extends to the exterior of your home, there are several things that can block or clog a furnace exhaust vent, such as:

  • Rodents or birds seeking warmth or nesting in the vent
  • Snow accumulating around or under it
  • A pile of leaves gathering near the vent
  • Damage to the vent or rust can also create blockage

After a Large Snow Fall

Here in the Aurora area, snowfall can affect your heating system’s performance. If you suddenly lose heat right after a heavy snowfall, you may want to check your furnace exhaust pipes for snow blockage. Vent pipes that were installed low to the ground can be easily obstructed by snow buildup.

If you see a large pile of snow or other debris around or under the vents, just clear it away to ensure there’s enough room for proper ventilation.

Homeowner Safety Measures

No matter what is blocking it, a clogged exhaust vent is a safety risk. You will likely need to have a professional furnace repair technician, like the experienced heating repair team at Maximum Heating & Air Conditioning, come out to inspect your heating system to ensure it is operating well and safely. However, these are some steps that homeowners can do themselves:

  • Turn off the furnace if you suspect the exhaust vent is blocked.
  • Remove any debris around the outside vent including snow, leaves, or twigs.
  • Regularly clear away snow and ice accumulation near the exhaust vent.
  • Install a vent cap or screen. Be sure to get one that is designed to prevent debris and animals from entering a furnace exhaust vent. Creating a make-shift or DIY vent cover could actually cause blockages and major furnace problems.

Expert Furnace Exhaust Pipe Service in Aurora, Il

For thorough inspection and maintenance of your furnace exhaust vent, trust the expertise of Maximum Heating and Air Conditioning. We provide service to communities in around Aurora, Il.

Our skilled technicians are well-versed in every aspect of your home’s HVAC system and can make sure you have a well operating and safe heating system. Contact us at (630) 788-4688 for immediate service or schedule a service appointment online.

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