If you're like most people, you find few things more unpleasant to waking up to an ice cold house because your furnace has somehow given up the ghost at some point during the night. You're probably also not a fan of coming home after a long day at work to a cold home when you've been looking forward to putting your feet up and relaxing in comfort and warmth.
Fortunately, warning signs exist that can give homeowners a heads-up for possible furnace problems. Following are several common signs that your furnace needs help from HomeSmart from Xcel Energy in order to do its job.
Failure to Heat Up Properly
If your home fails to warm up within a reasonable amount of time after you turn on the heat, it's possible that the answer is as simple as a malfunctioning thermostat or a blown fuse. Check the fuse box, and try pushing the reset button on the thermostat -- if that doesn't do the trick, it's time to call in a HomeSmart service technician.
More complicated reasons for failure to provide proper levels of heat are too numerous to list, but some common ones include pilot light malfunctions and faulty fans.
Unexplained Thumping, Scraping, or Banging Noises
Noises may include squealing, hissing, scraping, banging, rumbling, and thumping. Some situations call for immediate attention from a professional. For instance, any noise accompanied by the smell of fuel be handled with the utmost caution.
If your furnace suddenly starts making strange sounds and you smell fuel, immediately turn off the fuel and power source to the unit. Call HomeSmart and make an appointment with us for the earliest available time.
Following are other noises furnaces make and their possible causes.
- Hissing -- hissing noises in the furnace may be caused by fault capacitors or interior fans.
- Squealing -- this could be caused by a loose blower belt or one that's in need of lubrication.
- Scraping -- scraping sounds are usually caused by loose or broken blower wheels or broken blower mounts.
- Rumbling -- rumbling noises are often caused by dirty burners, pilot light malfunctions, loose interior screws, or buildups of dirt and grime on the vital components of the unit's motor.
- Banging -- banging sounds have a variety of potential causes, from dirty furnace filters to loose metal siding, closed vents, or ductwork that's too small.
Because there are so many potential reasons for these types of sounds coming from your furnace, you shouldn't attempt to diagnose and repair the situation yourself.
Unexplained Increase in Heating Bills
It's normal for heating costs to increase when seasonal cold snaps enter the picture, but if your bill unexpectedly skyrockets, that means your furnace is working much harder than usual -- which is an indication that the system is somehow malfunctioning.
Ductwork issues are a common culprit when this happens, but there could be other reasons as well. The first thing you should do if this occurs is to check your furnace filter to make sure it's not dirty or clogged -- if it is, it's possible that simply cleaning or changing it will rectify the situation.
Your Furnace Stops Working for no Reason
A furnace can stop working for a variety of reasons -- and fortunately, not all of them require expensive, time-consuming fixes. It could be something as easily addressed as a buildup of grime and dust on your pilot light which prevents it from staying properly lit, or it could be something more complex such as a faulty wiring or a broken fan motor.
Even if your furnace is showing none of these signs, having it inspected by a qualified HomeSmart professional once winter comes to an end helps to circumvent any unpleasant surprises when heating season returns next fall and your furnace is called back into action!