Furnaces are one of the most traditional and popular home heating options. They run on gas, oil, or electricity and distribute heat throughout a home through ducts. You can increase your furnace’s efficiency by adding or upgrading insulation and using ceiling fans to distribute warm air without raising the thermostat. Consider choosing a high-efficiency model with an ENERGY STAR rating.
Check the Filters
If your furnace is not heating your home or emitting strange noises, it’s time to call in a fast and efficient furnace repair professional. Professional repairs are essential because they help prevent minor problems from escalating into costly and complex issues. They also ensure that your system operates efficiently, reducing energy waste and saving you money on utility bills.
Some issues, like clogged air filters, require simple DIY solutions, such as replacing the filter or changing the batteries in your thermostat. Other issues may be more serious, such as a broken flame sensor or faulty ignitor that causes the gas to overheat and short cycle, which can damage the heat exchanger and limit switch. Poor airflow indicates that the blower motor or ductwork needs to be cleaned.
Look for Signs of Damage
Furnaces that are healthy will typically produce a regular whirring sound, so strange noises such as banging, rattling, irregular hums, or groans can be warning signs of trouble. Other signs include a carbon monoxide detector sounding, indicating that the furnace has a cracked heat exchanger leaking poisonous carbon monoxide into the home.
Other signs include a sudden spike in your electric bills, cold spots throughout the house, or poor airflow. Additionally, a pilot light that turns yellow is often a sign of a dirty flame sensor, which can lead to short cycling and an inefficient furnace. Additionally, a clogged blower can cause poor airflow and a build-up of dust around the unit. This can be a fire hazard and should be dealt with immediately.
Look for Signs of Leaks
Furnace leaks are often a result of a cracked heat exchanger, where combustion takes place to create heating. Over time, the refractory material will degrade, creating cracks or weld separations that lead to leaking. A professional can use specialized smoke generators to find difficult-to-spot leak sources.
Leaks are often accompanied by other unusual sounds, including scraping, squeaking, banging, and hissing. These sounds indicate something is wrong, even if the heating functionality seems unaffected.
Seeing water on the floor near the furnace is another telltale of a leak. A clogged PVC drain line could be to blame if the puddle grows. If a sulfur or rotten egg smell accompanies the puddle, this is likely caused by a gas leak, which is highly dangerous.
Look for Signs of Overheating
Overheating in a furnace can be caused by a lack of airflow, component failure, or electrical wiring issues. A lack of airflow can be due to clogged filters, dirty ductwork, or furniture that blocks vents. It can also result from poor system design, where the hottest components are not adequately vented.
Furnaces are not completely quiet systems, but homeowners typically become accustomed to the regular hum they produce. Any sounds distinctly unusual or louder than average require immediate attention and should be investigated by a professional. Clicking and banging noises often indicate a motor being overburdened or components beginning to fail.
Other signs that a heater may be overheating include a tripped carbon monoxide detector, recurring alerts, visible rust or soot around vents, and cold spots throughout the home.
Look for Signs of Mold
A professional repair technician can diagnose and fix issues that might not be clear to the average homeowner. For example, a musty odor that only appears when the furnace is running may indicate the presence of black mold, which can pose health concerns, especially for people with preexisting respiratory conditions.
Other signs of possible furnace problems include unheated chilly spots, unexplained carbon monoxide detector alerts, visible soot or rust around air vents, and a sudden spike in energy bills.
Homeowners familiar with some aspects of DIY-friendly home services may be tempted to tackle simple repairs independently, but this can void a furnace warranty. It can also be dangerous if the wrong steps are taken or something goes awry.