Have you ever had one of those freak-out moments in the middle of a cold, winter night when you suddenly wonder, “Is that my heater making that noise, and what if it stops working?”
Keeping your home safe and warm during extreme temperatures is always a priority, and knowing that your furnace is in trouble before it actually breaks down can not only save you money in the long run, but keep your family safe and give you peace of mind. Here are our top warning signs that your furnace might be headed for failure:
Your furnace is old The average life of a furnace ranges anywhere from 10-20 years. If your unit is an older model (especially if it’s over 15 years), then pay particular attention to how it’s performing (and if it’s starting to make funny noises). It’s a good idea to become familiar with new models that fit your needs and price range (and are more energy efficient) before you’re forced to replace your old one in an emergency situation. It’s better to budget and buy as part of a home improvement plan, rather than out of desperation.
Utility bills are higher than normal Sometimes homeowners assume that higher bills are just a reflection of extreme temperatures or overuse, but they can also be the result of a furnace that has lost its efficiency (especially if it hasn’t been properly maintained and serviced). A faulty furnace has to run longer and harder in order to heat your home, which of course means higher bills. If you’ve noticed such a trend, it might be your furnace.
Furnace repairs have increased Have you replaced a part or two over the last couple of years? Furnaces usually require the most repairs in the final two years of their lives. Additionally, if you find yourself having to wait for repair parts because they’re not readily available, this means that your furnace is getting old. The older the furnace, the harder it is to get parts replaced. And the last thing you want to do is wait for a part delivery during the middle of a harsh cold spell. Your thermostat is fickle It’s not really a matter of your thermostat being fickle, it’s more like it seems to be useless. In other words, some rooms in your home might be too cold, while others feel too hot, and adjusting the thermostat doesn’t seem to help. If you find yourself constantly adjusting the thermostat to find a comfort level, this might be a sign that your furnace isn’t able to distribute the air properly and keep you feeling comfortable in your home.
Your flame is yellow If your furnace’s flame is yellow or flickering, it could be sign that poisonous carbon monoxide might be present. Additional possible signs of carbon monoxide include:
- absence of an upward draft in your chimney
- streaks of soot around furnace
- excess moisture found on windows, walls, or other cold surfaces
- excessive rusting on flue pipes, other pipe connections, or appliance jacks
- small amount of water leaking from the base of the chimney, vent, or flue pipe
- rust on the portion of the vent pipe visible from the outside
You hear strange noises As mentioned before, if you start hearing strange noises coming from your furnace, it’s probably old and nearing the end of its life. In particular, listen for popping, banging, squealing or rattling. Other things to listen for? Your furnace blower running excessively, turning off and on frequently, or blowing cold air sometimes when it should be warm. If you’re hearing or experiencing these things, your furnace is old and needs to be replaced.
You or your family members feel sick As they age, furnaces can develop cracks in the heat exchanger inside. This is when carbon monoxide, if present, can leak into your home (undetected). If this is happening, you will notice specific signs like frequent headaches, nausea, disorientation, a burning feeling in nose or eyes, and flu-like symptoms. If you or your family members experience any of these, air out your house, open a window to the furnace room and immediately call a gas service technician. When the heat exchanger develops cracks, they usually go undetected, which is why we always advise regular service and maintenance, and being proactive about this possibly serious scenario.
Your home is dusty or dry – all the time
Because old furnaces lack the ability to moisturize and clean the air in your home, it may consistently feel stuffy or stale. Questions to ask: does anyone in your family suffer from allergies to airborne dust, mold, pollen, viruses or dander? Or does anyone suffer from dry nose, dry throat, or dry skin? You may also notice frequent dust accumulation, static shocks, drooping plants, furniture cracking and musical instruments that do not stay in tune. If any of these signs are present, they may be due to an aging furnace.
As always, we want you and your family to enjoy this winter in comfort and safety. If you have noticed any of these warning signs, give us a call. Our licensed, expert technicians will work to evaluate your furnace, diagnose the problem, and give you warmth and peace of mind as quickly and efficiently as possible.