On average a furnace is expected to last for between fifteen and twenty years, but one past 15 if the repairs start racking up huge bills it is probably worth considering a new system. The sensible thing is to have yours serviced regularly, or at least do things like regularly checking and cleaning the air filter – something which helps avoid several problems and extends the unit’s life.
Still, there’s nothing worse than finding your furnace has died on you right at the time of year when you really need it – leaving you not just cold and miserable, but also at risk of being charged crazy prices for an emergency fix. Although there is plenty of advice out there for how to cope with no heating, getting by is not a long term solution.
In many cases this kind of horrible problem could have been avoided if you’d noticed (and acted on) the signs that suggest your furnace is in need of repair. If you are not sure what to look (or listen) out for the take a look at this guide to five of the most common signs which are dead giveaways you have furnace issues that would benefit from a service or fix.
You don’t need to worry about diagnosing the exact problem, that’s what the experts are trained to do, but it is your responsibility to turn off the system and call for help when you notice anything strange at all.
Indicator 1 – Changes to heat levels
This can manifest itself in a really obvious way, say if the hot air you are expecting blows out cold, but the changes can be more subtle, say with an intermittent loss of heat, or a slow reduction in constant warmth. Being aware of how warm the air from your furnace is, compared to what it should be, could perhaps even help you identify potential problems before they become extremely serious.
If you have checked the usual things, like power switches, and circuit breakers and found no issues then call for help. (If your system is old enough to still have a pilot light you may find it has gone out. In any case, this type of furnace is best replaced regardless, due to age.)
Indicator 2 – Reduced airflow
You may or may not have reduced heat from your furnace at the same time, but a lower than usual airflow suggests there may be a blocked duct to deal with. If it turns on fine but produces just a little air it could be an issue with the motor or the fan.
Either way, if you ignore this problem then you are condemning your furnace to work harder than it should have to, which costs you more in heating costs and stresses the entire system out. Avoiding this kind of fix is almost certain to bring you an entire system breakdown sometime in the near future.
Indicator 3 – Unusual or scary noises
Like any piece of working machinery in your home you get to know the usual sounds your furnace makes, and in most cases you simply stop hearing them day to day. That’s exactly why the moment your ears become attuned to something different going on, noise wise, it needs your attention and action.
We’re talking about any unusual rattles, knocks, whistles, groans, humming or squealing that (generally) comes and goes with the furnace being turned on and off. Act before you get used to a soundtrack more fitting to a horror movie than a home and those sounds begin to blend into ‘normal’! You may be lucky and get away with a simple fix, say perhaps just something needs to be tightened. Regardless, don’t put it off or those noises will only become more and more sinister!
Indicator 4 – Crazy high utility bills
Sudden hikes in your gas or electric bills are one of the most common indicators of a problem with your furnace as in many cases problems cause the system to work harder to compensate, which inevitably pushes up fuel consumption. Of course, most people expect to pay more during the cooler months, but problems lead to quite obvious hikes.
If you are the sort of person who doesn’t give much thought to how much things are costing it’s worth changing your habits, it could save you an awful lot in both repair costs and utility charges.
Indicator 5 – Strange smells
You don’t expect to smell anything unusual from your furnace, so the moment you become aware of strange smells it’s something to act upon, without hesitation. In some cases strange smells can be a sign of electrical problems – the last thing you want to happen. Other smells, particularly those which are musty – almost wet dog-like, could be due to a system overtaken by mold. Never ignore unusual smells – they can generally be fixed pretty easily.
Are DIY furnace fixes a good idea?
That really depends. It’s always worth doing a little troubleshooting to rule out any basic, and kind of obvious, possible problems, such as checking the batteries in the thermostat. Otherwise, we would strongly advise against dabbling with DIY repairs for fear of either causing yourself some injury, or at best making the problem worse than ever. Ultimately, it always makes sense to engage experts in this sector to fix issues, but also to offer a top quality furnace service federal way to keep things running smoothly.
You may not give the furnace more than a passing thought most days of the year, but it will become all you can think about if you ignore or neglect it to the point where complete breakdown is the inevitable outcome. Instead, take the time to be aware of those things which are clear signs your furnace needs an expert’s attention.