During the winter, very few people want to think that their furnace could be broken. And, no one thinks of calling someone to fix their heating system when their house is still warm. But, sometimes, there’s a problem present before the heat goes out completely. If you know the warning signs, you can get it taken care of before things get worse — and more expensive.
In this article, we’ll go through five signs your heater is possibly broken. The system can still run with these problems, but not for long. Let them go long enough, and you’ll be calling for emergency furnace repair. And, even if the last few Hanover winters have been relatively mild, you still don’t want to go without heat for a day or two.
Five signs of a Broken Heater
Here are four subtle indications you have a broken heater. Even if it’s still working, things could go bad quickly.
- Carbon Monoxide Detector Keeps Going off
- House Is Not Warm Enough
- Heater Occasionally Blows Cold Air
- Heating Bill Suddenly Goes Up
- Furnace Makes Banging or Gurgling Noises
Carbon Monoxide Detector Keeps Going Off
As you may know, carbon monoxide is a colorless, odorless, and deadly gas. You should have detectors in your home because you wouldn’t know there was a problem until poisoning set in without them. And, a buildup of carbon monoxide can occur when there’s a problem with your HVAC system.
Your HVAC system produces carbon monoxide all the time. It’s a byproduct of burning fuels to produce heat. When everything’s working correctly, the gas is expelled through the exhaust system and goes directly outside. However, the gas can seep out if you have a cracked heat exchanger — an essential part located inside the unit. You can’t see it, but you can find out something’s wrong if your CO detector starts beeping.
Detecting A Leak
Your first alert will be the carbon monoxide detector going off near the unit. When this happens, you should immediately turn off the heat and open your windows even if your carbon monoxide detector goes off just once. Hopefully, it’s just a one-time occurrence.
But, if it happens again, leave and call 911. They’ll direct you to either the gas company or fire department. Once you get the all-clear, call your HVAC professional.
The problem is, your system will keep working even with the cracked heat exchanger. You’ll get another CO buildup before it finally breaks down for good. But, catching it early keeps you safe and gets you set up with a new system quickly.
House Is Not Warm Enough
This sign may seem obvious, but it’s often subtle: If your house is warm, but not warm enough, you may have a problem with the heater and will need to call for HVAC service.
The lack of heat usually indicates that something’s worn out or at least not working quite right. Maybe there is an issue with the blower, 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.
Your first question should be: Did you change your air filter before the cold weather hit? You should put a new one in every month, or at least once a season.
If you’ve let it go longer, then the one in there could be clogged. Once there’s enough dirt, fuzz, and other particles on the filter, 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. Otherwise, you’re blocking airflow.
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 colder than what you anticipated.
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 that happens, the inner workings of your system overheat. 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. However, when that happens too many times, the stress from the sudden temperature swings can weaken and crack the heat exchanger.
If you’re noticing cold air coming through the vents after troubleshooting, please call a professional.
Heating Bill Suddenly Goes Up
Of course, you will expect an increase in your utilities once you fire up the furnace for the winter. However, you want to be on the lookout for any sudden, sharp rise that may appear even if the weather has been relatively consistent.
The unexpected increase 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.
Now, 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. And, you’ll see any odd changes as they happen. If there’s a sudden, dramatic energy usage change, the app alerts you to take care of the problem.
Furnace Makes Banging Or Gurgling Noises
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 service if your furnace makes banging or gurgling noises and get an emergency furnace repair.
A banging noise from a heating system is usually a sign that something’s broken or has otherwise come loose.
You will possibly hear a belt slapping against an inner component 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 because you want to report the problem and get HVAC service 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.
Heater Tune-Ups In Hanover, PA
One easy way to head off a lot of problems with your furnace is by getting a tune-up in the fall. That’s when you have a professional clean and inspect the system before you start using it. This way, any small problems get fixed ahead of time, and the heater is optimized for winter. We talk more about these here.
Emergency Furnace Repair In Hanover, PA
If you’ve noticed any of these problems and need an emergency furnace repair, don’t ignore them! Give Air Comfort Technologies a call today for your HVAC service. 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.