Cartoon depiction of a gray figure with no features posing as a HVAC technician wearing a yellow hardhat and holding a large wrench with the word service on it, standing next to a heating unit. This is the header image for J & A South Park's To Repair or Replace your Furnace Blog.

To Repair Or Replace? Is Your Furnace Telling You Something?

 Winter is on its way. Our HVAC and electrical experts here at J & A South Park know that the last thing you want for you and your family is to have a freezing cold house all winter long. When was the last time you’ve given your furnace a full check-up? Is that noise that goes bump in the night actually your furnace? There are many signs pointing to the purchase of a new heat source for your house. Tell us; is it time to replace your old, loud and smelling furnace with a new one?

Your Furnace Maintenance is Lacking

Have you been giving your furnace the cold shoulder? Not keeping up on routine maintenance is a sure way to shorten the life of your appliance. When is the last time you have had the condensate drain function, condensate backup system and the water-level monitoring device checked? That could be the reason why there is a pool of water around your furnace.

If it has been a year or more since you have had an HVAC technician take a look at your system, then you are for sure due. An annual maintenance is the best way to stay ahead of mechanical problems that could arise within your furnace.

What are you Looking at?

 A few things your HVAC professional will investigate are all the moving parts, as well as making sure the thermostat unit is syncing properly with your heat source. If the furnace is constantly turning on and off then this is an issue of short cycling and can be caused by the overheating of the heating unit or simply a thermostat malfunction. The shutdown and start up functions of the furnace are controlled by the settings of the thermostat. Ensuring that the thermostat is working properly will narrow down the possibilities of problems with any of the mechanical malfunctions of the furnace.

The voltage on the system’s components and electrical connections will be inspected and analyzed. Your system will not have proper function if there are disconnected, loose, or broken connections within the electrical parts. Without a proper functioning electronic system, a full demise could be your unit’s fate in the near future.

Inspection will make sure that all of the moving parts within the unit have the appropriate range of motion and are well oiled or lubricated. This will allow these parts to be able to give the best output of function. If parts become stuck, the friction can cause the parts to wear our much more quickly than they should.

Every furnace will need repairs here and there throughout the course if it’s lifespan. However, if you are finding that your annual or even seasonal check-ups for your furnace are resulting in multiple repairs, it may be time to cut your losses and invest in new unit. Older units that need these repairs more and more frequently are giving you a good indication that about only two years are left on its life.

Things are going Bump in the Night

Noises from any running appliance can be completely normal. A quiet hum, whoosh or click can all be a part of a healthy heat source. A simple single click can be the sound of the ignition. Multiple clicks after the start up of the ignition or in advance of the blower kicking on could indicate issues with the ignition itself or possibly the heat exchanger. Knowing what is normal for your unit will help you to know when to call in a professional. When it doubt, call us out.

Sounds Discovered

A banging, squealing, rattling, whistling or popping sound are all noises that should result in a call to your HVAC pro. A whistling that can be heard throughout your home could potentially be an issue with airflow. Clogged filters can result in abnormal pressure resulting in this ominous noise. Holes and cracks in the ductwork or inadequately sized ductwork could also be the whistling bandit.

Swooshing, Squealing and Screeching

Squealing or screeching sounds coming from your furnace are definitely a sign of abnormal function. The belt that powers the blower motor may have finally worn out or just simply has come loose or slipped off completely. Your HVAC professional will make sure these belts are buckled securely during their routine maintenance. If the squealing still persists it could possibly be as simple of a fix as oiling moving parts such as the shaft bearings. Although, this sound could potentially result in a more complex fix for instance, having to replace the blower motor. Swooshing sounds from within your furnace that are followed by either a click or a bang could potentially be a leak in a gas valve. Shut off the gas line and breaker to the unit and call your HVAC techs at J & A South Park immediately.

Shake, Rattle and Roll

This phrase is appropriate on the dance floor, not within the system of your furnace. Most often this noise is the result of an issue within the ductwork. If you have kids or pets, regular fishing adventures for dropped toys could already be a routine you are used to when it comes to weird rattles in the ducts.

Rattling vibrations can also be a result of the air pressure running through the ducts. The constant pressure can cause the ducts to come loose from the floor, ceiling or walls. A screwdriver can offer a simple remedy but if the problem persists, the rattling may be coming from the furnace itself.

Bearings within the unit can start to wear out if they have not had the proper care. The rattling could also be caused from a more alarming source, such as the shaking of the furnace itself due to improper stabilization. The solution to this problem is absolutely saved for the professionals.

Always remember you are dealing with electricity and gas when it comes to your unit, and being safe is always better than being sorry.

The Big Bang

The big bang is always an interesting and beloved topic when it comes to science debates; however, not so endearing when it comes to your heater. If you are hearing a loud bang each time your furnace kicks on, a call to your HVAC professional is definitely beyond due. Other than startling your small kids or pets, that banging noise could in actuality be small explosions that happen upon the ignition of the furnace. A faulty electric ignition could be the culprit to this disturbing noise and requires replacement by an HVAC professional. If you haven’t kept up on your annual maintenance this banging noise could be a serious result of dirty burners. The clog can delay the ignition and cause a build up of gas within the unit just before the furnace ignites.

This noise is very concerning since it can result in a cracked heat exchanger, which may result in a carbon monoxide leak and an absolute replacement of the unit. There is a fine line between a noise that is accepted as a normal sound and one that is concerning. Each type of noise indicates a specific problem and a trained HVAC technician is well-versed in detecting the root of these audible consequences. Keeping up on your routine maintenance will help keep all the little parts tight and secure, ensure the most important parts are safe and functioning properly, as well as save you money on your energy bills.

Your pilot light is not a candle. The flame should always be burning blue.

This Little Light Smells Rotten

Unusual smells are one of the most dangerous signs that your furnace is either due for a major repair or in need of an immediate replacement. In the beginning of furnace season or after a dormant phase, a slight burning smell may be present due to a build up of dust. This odor should dissipate and is normal. What type of odor is never standard is the stink of rotten eggs. Natural gas is given this egg-like sulfur smell in order to detect its presence since it has no odor if it’s own. Diligence of routine maintenance will help prevent leaking gas values or gas build- up in the ignition that can result in that banging sound.

The furnace flame is yellow. Bad sign. Your pilot light is not a candle and the flame should always be burning bright blue. Yellow or orange flames indicate the mixture of gas and oxygen is not balanced. Often times this is a result of a dirty burner and can be a quick and easy fix. Other times, this amber flame can result in the on-going production of carbon monoxide.

All of us at J & A South Park know that we do not have to stress the dangers of carbon monoxide and the importance of having a working CO2 detector in your home. Its odorless existence even with the smallest bit of exposure can cause symptoms of nausea, headaches, light-headedness and other flu-like aliments. If your family is experiencing any of these symptoms, open the doors and windows of your home and exit immediately. Call the gas company or even the fire department to come and turn off the gas to your home. Next, call our HVAC technicians so we can evaluate the damage of your furnace and help you find the best solution right away.

Airflow is Sporadic, Weak or Cold

The most obvious indicator that something is not working properly within your furnace is when your home simply refuses to stay warm. Your home’s cold spots or weak airflow from vents is a definite warning that something is going awry with your heating unit. The furnaces’ fans, belts and motors control the flow of the air through the ducts and push warm air out through the vents into the rooms of your home. Having to crank up the heat in the whole house overall just to heat one or two specific rooms is not a result of an efficient furnace.

A good mark to gauge poor air circulation in your home is within your energy bill. Poor air circulation can result in a home that is heated unevenly as well as an increased amount of energy being improperly used by the unit. If you have recently seen a substantial dent into your home’s budget for gas or electric, your old worn-out furnace could be to blame. Investing in a new unit will not only be beneficial for the comfort of you and your family this winter, but will also save your pocket book from depletion in the future. Imagine being able to take that week-long vacation in February, giving both you and your heater a well- needed break from the stress of winter.

Old man wearing a winter coat and hat bends down to check the pilot light of a very old furnace.

Age has Caught Up with You, Call J & A South Park Today

Although, we like to think age is only a number, when it comes to your HVAC unit, this simply is not the case. With the right tender loving care, it is completely possible for a furnace to have an approximate life span of eighteen years to twenty years. Without the proper maintenance, breaks, cracks, leaks and poor airflow are complications that will always arise. Some of these maintenance issues can become dangerous and are not worth the risk of the convenience of neglecting your heating unit. We can give your home’s HVAC system a full evaluation and a proper pre-winter check-up. Call our HVAC technicians today, before you and your family are left in the cold.