furnace repair components

How to Know If Your Furnace Needs Repair

In most cases, furnaces will hold up for between 15 and 20 years. However, in order for them to do so, they must be properly maintained.

The fact of the matter is that, at some point, your furnace will inevitably run into a problem that will require a repair of some kind. Fortunately, if you can catch this problem early, and have it repaired in a timely manner, you can lessen the amount of long-term damage that is done to your furnace.

Here are the topics included in this post to help you determine if your furnace needs repair:

Staying on top of furnace updates will ensure you can be comfortable year-round

How do you catch furnace problems in their early stages? By keeping your eyes open for certain signs. It’s important to catch these problems asap, especially in the winter when we need to rely on our furnaces every day. Before the weather gets even worse, we need to ensure that our furnaces are ready for the long haul. Here are some typical signs that let you know it’s time for furnace repair in Chicago.

Furnace Noises

Your furnace is bound to make some noise. However, there are some noises that furnaces shouldn’t be making.

Is your furnace making a consistent banging noise? If so, it is likely suffering from a loose or impaired interior component. Is it making a consistent squeaking or squealing noise? If so, a broken belt is probably the culprit. 

In either case, it is wise to call in an HVAC specialist for a checkup. They will be able to identify any problems and perform any necessary repairs.

Strange smells coming from your furnace

Another sign that your furnace requires repair is if it’s emitting strange smells. If there is a gas smell present, you could be dealing with a leak. If there is a musty smell present, you are likely dealing with dust and mold buildup.

A poor-smelling furnace can be indicative of either a small or big problem. In some cases, this problem can turn out to be dangerous. 

Whereas gas smells are indicative of dangerous gas leaks, and chemical smells are indicative of dangerous carbon monoxide leaks, smoke smells are typically indicative of burnt out motors. In any case, it’s important that you bring in an HVAC technician as soon as possible.

Discolored furnace flame (pilot light)

In every operating furnace, there is a burning flame known as a pilot light. When your furnace is functioning appropriately, this pilot light should shine a blue color. If this light has a yellow color instead, something could be seriously wrong with your furnace.

Carbon monoxide risks from your furnace 

A yellow pilot light is often indicative of carbon monoxide buildup. Carbon monoxide can build up in a furnace when the furnace fails to properly burn fuel. Such a buildup is not only detrimental to your furnace, but to your health as well. Allowing leaks such as these to persist can cause your home to become toxic. In some cases, these leaks can even be fatal.

If you notice a yellow flame, we strongly recommend that you shut off your furnace immediately, and call an HVAC specialist.

Slow operation & heat production

Does your furnace take several minutes to react when you adjust your thermostat? If it’s taking any more than 45 minutes for a temperature change to take place, your furnace could benefit from a repair.

There are two typical causes for a slow production of heat: thermostat issues and clogged vents. In most cases, loose and deteriorating wires are the cause for this behavior. Either your furnace’s motor is breaking down, or your thermostat wiring has come unattached.

Spotty heating throughout your home

Do some parts of your home feel substantially colder than other parts of your home? Do the temperature readings on your thermostat fail to match up with the temperatures that are being produced by your furnace? If so, you’re more than likely dealing with worn down ducts and a repair is probably needed.

Ducts that are leaky and loose will let out heat as it travels from your furnace to your vents, resulting in longer heating times, wasted energy, and spotty heating in general.

Clogged ventilation can cause heat to be distributed poorly throughout your home, resulting in cold spots. At the same time, a malfunctioning thermostat can prevent your furnace from creating appropriate temperatures. 

Poor indoor air quality

Do you feel like you are suffocating in dusty or dirty air? If so, your furnace and corresponding ventilation system could be to blame.

Over time, dust and debris build up within a system. Then, after your system has been turned on, this dust is blown out into the air, causing it to feel grimy and bothersome.

If your system has reached this point, it will need to be cleaned thoroughly. 

How will you know when it’s time to replace your furnace?

We’ve been hearing plenty of talk about smart homes lately, but there’s one fundamental fact that you can’t escape: there’s no substitute for a smart home owner. Keeping your home toasty and safe in cold weather means being smarter about your home heating system. That means proper furnace maintenance, and sometimes it means something you’d probably rather not think about: buying a new furnace. Lakeview Heating and Cooling helps you figure out when to replace your furnace.

Here are some useful questions to ask if you’re thinking about replacing your furnace.

How old is my furnace?

Age is the most common reason to replace your furnace. In fact, Energy Star recommends replacing your furnace after 15 years even if it doesn’t seem to have any issues. See, newer furnaces are much more efficient than their older counterparts. Install a smart thermostat and you can get even more efficiency, often lowering your energy bills enough to quickly recoup your investment.

Are my utility bills higher?

Utility costs never seem to go down, but that might not be the only reason you’re paying more. Furnaces lose efficiency over time even with proper furnace maintenance, so your furnace has to work longer and harder to heat your home.

Am I repairing my furnace more often?

Things wear out when they get old (just ask your knees if you’re over 40). Some parts need to be replaced due to normal wear. But when you find yourself making repair calls multiple times in a season, your furnace could be on its last legs. Sometimes it’s simple economics; the cost of a new furnace would be less than the constant repairs.

Does my home feel colder?

If it seems to take longer to warm your home than it used to, or if you’re noticing humidity changes where you didn’t have them before, that’s often an indication that it’s time for an inspection. We may find that it’s a simple fix, or that you’re better served with a new furnace.

Get your furnace regularly checked to avoid costly repairs and to stay comfortable year-round

Gas-fired furnaces will often alert you that something’s wrong if you know what to look for. You may notice smells that weren’t there before, a flame that’s orange instead of blue, soot marks or signs of burning around the furnace, or strange noises. Sometimes this is just a sign that the furnace needs cleaning or service. Other times it’s the beginning of a more severe problem that could turn into a fire or carbon monoxide leak if you’re not diligent.

Not every ping, rattle, or hiccup is a sign that you need to replace your furnace. Sometimes— especially if it’s a recent install — it’s just a sign that it needs to be cleaned and serviced. 

Your home should be safe, comfortable and warm.

If your home is in the Chicago area, call 773-832-5859 and let us help you with furnace service & installations, air quality solutions, and smart thermostats.