Your furnace typically runs without incident. As long as your furnace is installed properly, maintained regularly, and tested by a heating professional, you should be able to rely on the furnace to provide the heat you need to keep your home comfortable. It can be easy to jump to conclusions when your furnace does malfunction.
Not every performance issue can be considered an emergency. The average homeowner might not be able to tell the difference between a furnace in need of a tune-up and one on the verge of failure.
Use the following issues as a guide to help you determine if you have a furnace emergency that needs the attention of an HVAC professional.
Loud or Strange Noises
Your furnace operates in the background, so it can be easy to forget that your home's heating system is running to help heat your home.
All furnaces make sounds as they kick on or off, and you have probably become desensitized to the noises that your furnace makes. This should make it easier to take note of any unusual sounds coming from your heating system.
Loud or unusual noises can be an indication of serious trouble in your furnace. Grinding sounds can indicate damaged motor bearings. Squealing is usually caused by loose belts.
You might not think that strange sounds pose a real threat to your furnace, but these sounds are an early warning sign of problems to come. An HVAC professional should be called in to address the cause of the strange sounds before more serious damage occurs.
Does your furnace start and stop too quickly or too many times throughout the day? If so, you are a victim of short cycling. Short cycling can occur for many different reasons, including improper furnace size.
You should verify that your furnace isn't too big for your home if you are experiencing short cycling on a regular basis. If furnace size isn't the issue, short cycling can be an indication of life-threatening problems.
Your furnace is designed to automatically shut down if it overheats. A cracked heat exchanger can cause the operating temperature of the furnace to rise quickly. This triggers the auto shutdown.
A cracked heat exchanger also allows carbon monoxide to escape into your home. Exposure to carbon monoxide can be deadly, so you should contact an HVAC professional immediately to make repairs when your furnace starts to short cycle.
The last thing you expect from your furnace is for the appliance to blow cold air. This issue isn't always an emergency situation, but cold air coming from your furnace can be a symptom of something sinister.
An HVAC professional will be able to determine if your furnace isn't producing heat because the air filter is clogged or because it has serious mechanical issues. Some of these mechanical issues include faulty gas valves, a clogged oil filter, a dirty gas burner, or overheating.
Failure to address these mechanical problems quickly could cause irreparable damage to your furnace, requiring that you replace the unit entirely. It's better to err on the side of caution and make a call for emergency repairs whenever you feel cold air coming from your vents.
Your heating system plays an important role in the comfort of your home. It's important that you are able to care for this system properly if you want to continue having access to a reliable source of warmth.
The ability to identify a real furnace emergency by listening for strange sounds, understanding short cycling, and taking note of cold air will help you take better care of your heating system by contacting a professional for repairs.