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5 Common Furnace Warning Signs and What They Mean

angry with bills

The heating system in your Hilton Head Island, South Carolina, home may be giving some warning signs that it’s on its last legs. Keep an eye out for these five signs that may indicate a furnace problem, and learn what each sign means.

High Heating Bills

One of the first signs of an HVAC problem is a steady increase in your monthly heating bills. Although many factors may cause your bills to rise, including an increase in the price of fuel and a change in outdoor temperatures, a sudden and dramatic bill spike is a sign something is wrong. When a component gives out or breaks down, the system no longer operates efficiently, resulting in energy loss. Consequently, your bills become higher than normal.

Even a slow, steady increase over several months can indicate your system is losing efficiency, which happens as a furnace nears the end of its lifespan. Most units are designed to last for 10-15 years, so if yours is reaching that point, it may be time to consider an upgrade to a more efficient unit.

Strange Sounds

A furnace typically makes some noise when it cycles on and off, but you shouldn’t hear a lot of unexpected noise. Banging, squeaking, hissing, popping, rattling, and clicking sounds can all indicate problems. A banging or grinding sound might mean a component within the system has slipped out of place and is bumping against another part. Popping can mean the gas pressure is too high, while clicking can indicate the system isn’t receiving enough fuel to ignite.

If you hear any of these sounds when your furnace is running, call in a technician to take a closer look. Some of these sounds can lead to a dangerous situation, so it’s best to turn the system off until it has been inspected and has been determined to be operating safely.

Unpleasant Odors

Catching a whiff of something unpleasant is another sign your furnace is having problems. A musty odor could indicate the presence of moisture in your ducts or heating system, which can lead to respiratory problems and other negative health effects in those who suffer from allergies. The smell of rotten eggs or sulfur is cause for alarm, as this could indicate a natural gas leak. Utility companies add the odor-causing substance to natural gas to alert you of a potential leak. Shut off the system completely and call for help if you smell a rotten egg odor.

Frequent Cycling

When your system is frequently cycling on and off, your furnace may be struggling to stay lit or maintain power. In an older system, this could mean the wiring is faulty or the blower fan isn’t staying on to move air through the chamber. When a furnace won’t stay on at all and the wires aren’t to blame, it’s probably time for a replacement unit. A heating system that cycles on and off frequently may also be improperly sized for the space.

On the other hand, if your blower fan runs for long periods of time, the issue could be with that component.

Cold Air or Chilly Spots

If cold air is coming through your vents, the first thing to check is whether you have the system set to heat. It seems like a no-brainer, but you’d be surprised by how many HVAC technicians have made this simple fix for a homeowner who didn’t realize someone had switched the system to cool. If the system is set to heat, cold air can mean the pilot light has gone out, or it can mean the furnace isn’t receiving enough gas to warm the air.

Cold spots in a home might also indicate that a heating system isn’t able to produce enough heat for the house. In this case, you may need to replace the unit with one that’s properly sized for your space.

At McDevitt Air, we offer a variety of heating system services, including maintenance, repairs, and installation. So, if your furnace is giving off any of these warning signs, contact us at 877-692-9402.

Image provided by Shutterstock

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