Newark residents know that Delaware winters can be harsh. That’s why having a properly functioning home heating system is so important. If the cold months are fast approaching, you’ll want to make sure that your furnace is ready to handle the burden of heating your home and keeping you and your family comfortable. Many small malfunctions can be easily fixed, but there’s always the chance that your furnace might need to be replaced entirely.
Wondering what it looks like when a furnace isn’t functioning as it should? Here are some ways you should be aware of and what they might mean:
Unexplainable increases in energy bills. Anytime you notice a bump in your energy bill that you can’t explain away through intentionally increased usage, it’s a good indicator that something is wrong. Sometimes, too many windows left open while the furnace or air conditioning unit is running is the culprit. However, if simple mistakes like that have been ruled out and your energy bill is astronomical during the winter months, you may be facing problems with your furnace. If the furnace has a malfunctioning part, has accumulated too much dust and dirt, or isn’t properly lubricated, it could be working twice as hard for half the result, causing your energy usage to drastically increase. If you find yourself in this situation, make an appointment with an HVAC technician as soon as possible to find out if a furnace replacement is in order.
Unusual noises. If your furnace seems to be louder than normal while running, there may be an internal malfunction that is causing it to work harder than it should. This could also be the cause of any unfamiliar hums, rattles, or buzzes that develop. Sounds like these could even mean something as serious as a leak in your furnace.
Visible signs of age. Regularly inspecting your furnace is extremely important because you won’t want to miss any visible indications that your furnace needs extra attention. If you see rust developing, notice any cracks or discoloration, or see anything at all abnormal anywhere on your furnace, there may be a functionality issue due to typical wear and tear.
Starting and stopping. Furnaces are built to send hot air throughout your home in cycles. If the regular cycles you’re accustomed to are being cut short somehow, there may be a malfunction in your furnace causing this to happen. Usually, furnace systems will stop and start when the heat sensor is dirty or when the fan motor is on its last legs.
Uneven heating patterns. You may realize that certain rooms of your home receive less heat than others, or even no heat at all, while your furnace is running. If this is the case, your furnace may be having difficulty cycling heat evenly and may need to be replaced.
Excessive dryness or moisture. If you notice that the air cycling throughout your home feels overly dry or you’re finding moisture buildup on the walls, windows, or ceilings, your furnace could be at fault. Dry air could be caused by a variety of issues involving the procession of air from the furnace to the rest of the house, while moist air is usually a sign of insufficient airflow from room to room. Though both issues could also involve the vents themselves, a faulty furnace could be at the root of the problem.
A dirty house. The noticeable buildup of dirt, dust, soot, or dander throughout your home, while the furnace is in use, could be a major sign that your furnace needs cleaning or is even unable to filter the air passing through.
Signs of water leakage. If you find pooling water under or near your furnace, the first step is to make sure you know exactly where the water is coming from; many people keep their furnaces and air conditioning units in the same area or even have them combined, so it’s possible that the leak could be coming from the AC unit or even another nearby source. Water leaks from AC units can often be a relatively easy fix, but if the water is confirmed to be leaking from the furnace, you may want to seek a professional’s opinion on whether or not the furnace is still safe for use.
Animal interference. Many homeowners have at least some level of experience with rodent activity in their home, but some may not realize how much damage small animals like rats, mice, and squirrels can do to a home’s mechanical function. When checking your furnace for visible exterior damage, keep an eye out for any foreign material that could function as a nest or anything that resembles animal droppings. Also, check any wires for signs of chewing or scratching. If you don’t see any explicit signs of animal activity but notice a strange or unpleasant smell, you may have a different kind of animal problem. Thoroughly check your vents and vent hoods for any deceased animals or other signs of animal presence.
Overly frequent repairs. Think back on the last few years. Have you hired an HVAC technician to fix your home heating system more than a few times and yet you’re still experiencing constant problems? You may be working with a furnace that is simply too old to function properly, no matter how many times you attempt to fix it. Most furnaces last for about 20 years, provided that the homeowner has taken good care of it and performed routine maintenance. If your furnace is approaching that age or you’re not even sure how old your furnace is, it might be a sign that a replacement is in order.
Constant adjustment of the thermostat. Maybe you’ve noticed that no matter how many times you check that you set the thermostat correctly, you’re not getting the temperature you want. Maybe it’s only off by a few degrees, or maybe your house can’t seem to get anywhere above freezing cold in the dead of winter. Whether your thermostat is digital or mechanical, if you find yourself constantly adjusting its reading, the problem could stem back to your furnace’s inability to meet your home’s heating needs.
Yellow burner flame. Many furnace models include a peephole for owners to check the color of the burner flame. If not, make sure to open the door carefully. If the flame is mostly blue, the burner is functioning properly. If the flame is mostly yellow, this means that the natural gas within the furnace isn’t burning off entirely as it should, and carbon monoxide is being produced. CO production in furnaces is often caused by a dirty burner or improper venting and can indicate a potential carbon monoxide leak. This can be very bad news as CO poisoning is no laughing matter. Other commons signs of carbon monoxide presence to look out for are:
- Soot near or around the furnace
- Stagnant air in the chimney
- Excessive moisture present on cold surfaces within the house i.e. windows, walls, etc.
- Rusty flue pipes or other nearby pipes
In addition to checking your furnace regularly for signs of carbon monoxide production, all homeowners should install a carbon monoxide detector. The gas is entirely odorless and tasteless, so a CO detector could be the only way to identify and halt a carbon monoxide leak. Common signs of carbon monoxide poisoning include frequent headaches, burning in the nose and eyes, disorientation, nausea, and other flu-like symptoms.
Maintaining a safe and functional furnace isn’t only important for keeping your home comfortably warm during Newark winters. Proper furnace maintenance can also prevent excessively high energy bills and unpleasant changes to air quality in your home while saving you from serious life-threatening issues such as carbon monoxide poisoning and even fires.
If you’re experiencing one or more of the common furnace problems listed above, it may be time to replace your unit entirely. Even if you’re still unsure about the source of your home heating issues or if you don’t know how to properly care for your furnace year-round, Boulden Brothers are here to help.
Boulden Brothers are proud to offer exceptional customer service for all your heating and cooling needs as well as professional and efficient installation of new devices on your preferred timeline. We understand how intense Delaware winters can be, which is why you won’t be kept waiting for your new furnace. For top-of-the-line heating and cooling systems and customer service that makes you feel like family, give Boulden Brothers a call today.