I drove the first car I ever owned until its engine nearly turned to dust, and didn’t get a penny when I traded it in. Instead, the car salesman told me my beloved vehicle was no more than scrap metal. I learned the value of cutting bait that day, of deciding to swap your car for an upgrade when it still has value left, instead of waiting until it needed too many repairs to be worth resuscitating.
In this way, cars and furnaces are nothing alike. The average furnace lifespan is about 15 years, but, even if you trade it in for a newer model before its time, it’s not going to have any trade in value. That means keeping your furnace properly maintenanced is not only prudent, it’s vital. Simply put, it’s worth it to run your furnace until it reaches its maximum lifespan. Watch and listen for signs your heater might need a tune up, so you can spot trouble before it shortens the life of your furnace.
Sign #1 – You’ve Ignored or Neglected Your Furnace for a Year (or More)
Ask yourself when the last time you had a trained HVAC technician check on your furnace was. If the answer is a year or longer, you’re due for annual maintenance. At the very least, your filter will almost definitely need to be replaced, as I recommend doing that on a monthly basis. Most HVAC repair companies offer monthly services for this, as well as the ability to schedule regular yearly check-ups automatically. Get this on your calendar and make it a new habit, for the health of your furnace.
Sign #2 – Water Is Pooling Around Your Furnace
There are two substances your furnace can potentially leak: gas and water. Now, a water leak is significantly less dangerous than the other, but it still needs to be addressed quickly if you want your house to stay warm. You can easily identify this problem just by checking for water pooling near or under your furnace. This is generally caused by a clogged condensate line, a problem best left to professionals because it requires a mix of HVAC and plumbing expertise to fix.
Sign #3 – You Smell Gas Leaking
A gas leak, unlike water, is usually identified when you smell gas. If this is the case, shut down your furnace immediately. Next, open up your furnace, find the gas supply valve, and turn it off. Don’t light any matches or turn on any lights in your home—and call a local HVAC technician as soon as possible.
Sign #4 – There’s a Thump, Scrape, or Bang in the Night
A weird noise is one of the clearest red flags that your furnace needs to be repaired. Whether you’re hearing a thump, scrape, or a bang, it means something is amiss in your HVAC system. A trained tech will have to determine what it is—these noises won’t go away on their own.
Sign #5 – The Air Blows Weakly
If you’ve ever had a car with a busted heater, you know that air can quickly go from flowing freely to barely coming out of the vents at all, seemingly out of the blue. This can also become a problem with your furnace for several reasons, from minor problems with fans to major issues with belts and motors, but the bottom line is you need an HVAC technician to take a look and spot the places in need of repair.
Sign #6 – The Thermostat Stops Working
A thermostat that becomes ineffective—meaning you have to turn it higher and higher to heat your home even a little bit—is a definite sign your furnace needs to be repaired. The thermostat’s main job is to tell your HVAC system how much heat to produce, and if it stops doing that, you have a problem a professional needs to address. Malfunctions with this component often occur due to electrical issues, like blown fuses, loose wiring, or tripped circuit breakers. Because of the risk for shock, they can be a bit dangerous to fix if you haven’t had any formal training. Call a trained HVAC professional you trust.
Sign #7 – Your Utility Bill Rises Unexpectedly Sky High
A heating bill that goes up, way up, without a corresponding bump in use, is another strong indicator your system needs repair. There are a few things that can be wrong, including problems with the ductwork, and it’s often really difficult to figure out the culprit. A trained HVAC technician, however, has the equipment and expertise to find the problem, and advise you on the next steps.
Sign #8 – Your Furnace Blows Cold Air
If your furnace has started blowing cold air instead of hot, that’s not good—obviously. The most common causes for this are issues with the thermocouple or pilot light, both of which are complex components that need specialized expertise to evaluate. Don’t try to figure this one out on your own.
Sign #9 – There’s Frequent, or Constant, Cycling
If you hear your furnace kicking on and off repeatedly, this likely indicates that it’s over cycling, which means it’s running more often than it should be. That’s a problem that may be caused by a clogged filter, improper air circulation, or complications with the thermostat. As we’ve seen with a few of the other items above, it’s best to call a professional for repairs when the cause is tough to pin down.
Sign #10 – Age Has Caught Up to Your HVAC
Is your furnace old enough to be in high school? If the answer is yes, it likely has some potential problem areas. As I mentioned at the start, the average lifespan of a furnace is about 15 years, which means that it might die at 13, or it might live to 20. In many cases, being steadfast with repairs can make the difference.
You know those occasional cold nights when you decide the best move is to curl up at home and watch a movie? Your furnace makes those nights possible, or, rather, it makes them much more pleasant than they would otherwise be. It’s only right that you pay your furnace back by keeping it running smoothly.
One of the best and most effective ways to do this is to keep to a regular maintenance schedule. Preventative check-ups every fall, and sometimes also mid-way through a particularly demanding winter, are a great way to lessen the odds of experiencing these troubles in the first place.
Regardless, you should stay vigilant for the above signs of repairs. One commonality you may have noticed is that the vast majority of these problems are best left to the professionals. If your HVAC system needs care, it’s best to call a local service company you trust. Treat your furnace right—and enlist a trained technician to fix it up when it starts to give off signs of struggle. You won’t regret it when you get an extra few years from your heater.
Have you noticed any of the signs above? Call the trained professionals at Bell Brothers today to have them look at and repair your furnace.