Four Signs Your Furnace is Broken
- Your Carbon Monoxide Detector Keeps Going Off
- Your House is Not Warm Enough
- Your Heating Bill Suddenly Goes Up
- Your Hear Banging or Gurgling Noises
No one wants to think their furnace is broken. As long as the house is still warm, no one wants to pay for someone to come out and fix their heating system.
But, even if things are still sort-of working, you want to get it taken care of before things get worse — and more expensive.
And, given how bad the last few Chicagoland winters have been, the last thing you want to do is go without heat even for a day.
That’s why, in this piece, we’re looking at warning signs that something’s wrong with your heating system.
Even if it hasn’t broken yet, these are the canaries in the HVAC coal mine.
Your Carbon Monoxide Detector Keeps Alerting
If your carbon monoxide detector goes off even once, you should immediately turn off the heat and open your windows.
With any luck, it’s just a freak occurrence. But, don’t ignore this big warning sign if it’s not.
Carbon monoxide is a colorless, odorless, and deadly gas. We have detectors in our home because, without them, you wouldn’t know there was a problem until you felt the effects of carbon monoxide poisoning.
These include headaches and nausea. Eventually, you’ll pass out. If you’re left in the house with it, you’ll die.
Now, your HVAC system produces carbon monoxide all the time. It’s a byproduct of burning fuels to produce heat.
And, when everything’s working correctly, the gas gets expelled through the exhaust system. It goes directly outside, never building up in the house.
But, if you have a cracked heat exchanger — an essential part, located inside the unit — the gas can seep out.
Detecting a Leak
Your first alert is the carbon monoxide detector near the unit going off.
That’s when you want to turn off the system and open the windows.
You should also immediately call a professional.
Here’s the thing: Your furnace will continue to operate for a long time, even if this is happening.
And, your house will keep filling up with poisonous gas.
Your House is Not Warm Enough
This sign seems obvious, but it’s often subtle: If your house is warm, but not warm enough, you may have a problem with the heater.
It usually means something’s worn out or not working quite right. Maybe the blower is just making it. Or, there’s a belt about to break.
When these problems occur, you’ll know when there’s heat coming through the vents — just not too much of it.
However, you may not need a professional just yet.
Troubleshooting a Furnace
First of all: Did you change your air filter before the cold weather hit? You should put a new one in every three months or so. That’s roughly once a season.
If you haven’t, then the one in there could be clogged. Once there’s enough dirt, fuzz, and other particles on the screen, it won’t let enough air pass through.
Next, check your vents: Can you see them all?
A blocked vent, particularly a return, can disrupt the airflow in your house. One symptom would be weak circulation.
Make sure there are at least 18 inches of space around each vent.
Heater Occasionally Blows Cold Air
Cold air is the cousin of “My home’s not warm enough.” There’s enough air flowing through the house. But, you notice that it’s sometimes cold instead of hot.
This is a sign that heat is backing up into the system. Somewhere along the line, the warmth isn’t able to circulate enough.
When this happens, the inner workings of your system overheats. Yes, even the core of your heating system can get too hot.
In this situation, the system sends a blast of cold air to regulate things. But, when that happens too many times, the stress from the sudden temperature swings can weaken and crack the components.
If you’re noticing cold air coming through the vents after troubleshooting, call a professional.
Your Heating Bill Suddenly Goes Up
Of course, you expect an increase in your utilities once you fire up the furnace for the winter. But, you want to be on the lookout for a sudden, sharp rise even if the weather has been relatively consistent. The sudden rise is a sign that the system is working harder than it needs to.
If the change coincides with weaker heating or even the same amount of climate control, it’s a cause for concern. Of course, this can be a little tricky to spot with a monthly bill. That’s where newer HVAC technology comes in handy.
Tracking Energy Usage With a Smart Thermostat
A smart thermostat will help you spot a problem without waiting for your monthly bill.
These new devices offer more real-time measures of your energy usage. And, you can view it any time on a smart device.
With these tools, you’ll see any odd changes as they happen. And, if there’s a sudden, dramatic energy usage change, the app will alert you.
Your Furnace Makes Banging or Gurgling Noises
Do you know how you’ll take your car to the mechanic (hopefully) when the engine makes weird noises? Well, in the same way, it’s a good idea to call your HVAC company if your furnace makes banging or gurgling noises.
Long story short is, neither of these is a good sound. But, we’ll look at closer at each.
Sometimes, you’ll hear a belt slapping against an inner component, for instance. Or, a squeal if it’s frayed but still working.
Any banging, scratching, squealing, or rattling from your unit means it’s worth betting it looked at. You want to catch a problem before it gets worse.
This is more specific to boilers, but it’s worth mentioning.
A problem with these units is “kettling.” It’s when there’s a clog preventing water from passing through the system the way it should.
In this case, the liquid evaporates and puts pressure on the boiler. The deep, rumbling, gurgling sound comes from air bubbles escaping through the system.
Compass Is Here to Help!
If you’ve noticed any of these problems with your furnace, don’t ignore them! Give Compass Heating and Air a call today. With any luck, it’ll be nothing.
Or, it’s at least something small that we can fix before it becomes a bigger — and more expensive — problem.