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Heating Up: 7 Signs That Your Furnace Needs Repairs


When the weather gets cold, you rely on your furnace to keep your home comfortable and to prevent seasonal issues like burst pipes. However, because your furnace stays off for half the year, the unit can become damaged without your realizing it.

When an issue arises with your unit, it’s important to schedule furnace repairs as soon as possible. In this blog, we list seven common signs that your system needs to be inspected and serviced by an HVAC professional.

1. Abnormal Furnace Smells

Furnaces can smell like the fuel that they use, especially when they turn on for the first time in a year. Most furnace odors dissipate as the unit runs. However, if you notice a strong smell of fuel around the unit, an odor that appears suddenly, or a scent that doesn’t go away over time, you may have a furnace problem.

These smells can result from a wide range of issues, from a gas leak to excessive dust inside the unit. Have an HVAC professional assess the odor to determine its cause.

2. Difficulty Starting the Unit

As a furnace ages, you may have more trouble turning the unit on and keeping it running. If you have to try multiple times to start the unit or restart your furnace throughout the day, you likely need a repair.

These functionality issues often stem from disconnected wiring or damaged thermostats. Replacing the affected part should resolve the issue.

3. Discolored Pilot Light

Pay attention to the color of your pilot light. A healthy pilot light usually appears blue. A pilot light of a different color, especially yellow, can indicate a ventilation problem.

The color change occurs when gases like carbon monoxide don’t dissipate as they should. This issue can cause health problems for you and your family or even make your unit more combustible if not addressed.

4. Inadequate Heat

One of the most obvious signs that a furnace needs repairs is that the unit is not doing its job. If your furnace is producing no heat or only a low level of heat regardless of your thermostat settings, schedule repairs.

The most common causes of inadequate heat are leaking ductwork that allows treated air to escape and faulty thermostats that do not correctly communicate with the furnace unit.

5. Persistent Noises

No furnace is silent, but loud and persistent noises can indicate a serious problem. Pay attention to the sounds you hear and, if possible, describe them to your HVAC contractor when he or she inspects the system. Squealing and whistling noises may come from belt or fan issues while banging or groaning can result from broken and loose internal components.

6. Poor Air Quality

Your furnace system has a direct impact on the air quality in your home. A poorly maintained system may move dirt, bacteria, and other foreign particles throughout your home along with the heated air. You may notice more floating dust in your air, along with frequent coughs, colds, and other respiratory ailments. If you or someone in your family has allergies, the amount of foreign particles available may also cause
symptoms like itchiness, watery eyes, and headache.

Sometimes, resolving furnace-related air-quality problems is as easy as replacing the filter. In more serious cases, the ductwork and unit may need to be professionally cleaned.

7. Tripped Carbon-Monoxide Detector

Your furnace is equipped with a carbon-monoxide detector designed to alert you to the presence of toxic gases. If the detector goes off, turn the furnace off immediately and open the windows to ventilate your home.

Consult with your gas company and an HVAC contractor to determine the source of the gas. If you notice any combination of the warning signs listed above, don’t wait for your furnace to give out. Schedule an assessment and the necessary repairs as soon as possible.

Posted in: Energy Efficiency, Health & Safety Issues, Heating, Indoor Air Quality

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