October is Furnace Maintenance Month. As we gear up for evenings inside, enjoying family, sports, and cuddling up with a good book, a warm and cozy home is a must. Having a properly maintained furnace will not only keep your home comfortable, but also help to save you money by operating as efficiently as possible.
If you have a gas furnace, your home is being heated by the burning of natural gas or propane. This process involves a flame and a combustible material, demonstrating the importance of keeping your furnace maintained. A neglected furnace can lead to problems, from costly repairs and replacements to dangerous malfunctions like gas leaks. We recommend an annual furnace tune-up; this inspection can pay for itself by increasing efficiency, resulting in lower utility bills, and detecting potential problems, leading to fewer breakdowns.
Here are some ways to tell if your furnace is in need of a tune-up, before it turns into an emergency repair:
This one seems pretty obvious, but you usually realize there’s a problem once it’s too late. Test your furnace before it gets cold to be sure it is putting out heat. Also check the corresponding circuit breaker’s on/off switches before making a service call.
Carbon monoxide monitor goes off
If your household uses gas appliances, you should have a carbon monoxide monitor. Carbon monoxide is created as a result of incomplete combustion. It is known as the “silent killer” because it’s undetectable to our five senses and can be a deadly poison.
If the alarm goes off:
- Shut down your gas appliances
- Open your windows to bring fresh air in
- Leave your home and call the fire department
- Call a professional to come and test all of your gas appliances (especially your furnace) to see if they are venting exhaust correctly
Utility bill suddenly increases
It is not uncommon for your utility bill to go up in the winter because the furnace is working harder, but if there is an unusual spike in your bill and there has not been a change in utility rates, then your furnace may not be working properly and is in need of service.
Loud banging noise when furnace is turned on
Your furnace should be relatively quiet when it’s running, but if you hear loud bangs, clangs, groans, or whining sounds, certain components of your furnace, such as the ignition system or a moving belt, could be worn out or damaged. Any sound not typical of your furnace warrants a call to a service technician.
Furnace produces a strong fuel smell
It’s natural for an oil or gas furnace to produce a faint scent of burnt fuel, but if you’re smelling the strong rotten-egg smell of unburned gas originating from your furnace, you have a serious gas leak that needs to be looked at immediately. If you smell gas, leave your home right away and call the fire department.
Furnace turning off and on
When working properly, your furnace will turn on, remain active for a period of time, and then turn off again once the desired temperature has been achieved. Changes in this pattern, such as a furnace struggling to turn on or one that turns on and off constantly with very little result, indicate a problem with either your furnace’s efficiency or its parts. Not only does this behavior cost you extra money due to lost efficiency, but it also won’t heat your home very well. If you notice this cycling, call your heating service to take a look at your HVAC system.
Poor indoor air quality
Your HVAC system plays an integral role in the quality of the air inside your home. When your furnace is dirty or failing, you may detect a noticeable increase in the amount of dust on flat surfaces. Even if you don’t notice a change in your indoor air quality, an increased incidence of asthma, allergies, or upper respiratory illnesses throughout family members could be related to furnace function, and is a good indicator that you should schedule an inspection to determine whether repairs are needed.
Maybe your furnace is working, but do you know how efficiently? Is it clean and functioning properly or, maybe more importantly, is it operating safely? These are all questions that can be answered by scheduling an inspection by your local HVAC service company. Maintaining your furnace will improve the comfort and air quality inside your home, while helping you to save money on heating bills and preventing premature replacement of this valuable appliance. Do not wait until the cold weather hits and your furnace goes down to call – schedule your furnace inspection today!