Fall is trekking right along and the official start of winter is less than a month away. Chances are, you’ve begun running your heater on a daily basis already… and more cold weather is on its way. This means if you haven’t done so already, now is the time to check your heating system for any signs of trouble. Problems from last year won’t have gone away this year without professional care—and this can be compounded by lack of use over the months. Running your system on a regular basis when it’s not performing at its best will only end in frustration—and probably a broken down heater.
There’s good news, though! There are some common signs you can watch out for that indicate your heater is running into issues, and if you know what to look for, you can usually spot these issues fairly easily. Remember though, you shouldn’t attempt a formal diagnosis or any type of repair on your own. Heating systems involve a number of components that could become dangerous in the wrong hands—like natural gas. If you notice your heating system isn’t performing the way it should, the best thing you can do is call a pro. In the meantime, watch and listen for the following signs that indicate a heating system problem.
This refers to anything that you don’t typically associate with the noises your heater makes while it’s operating. This can include hums, bangs, rattles, groans, and buzzes. In most cases, the noises will start and stop with the starting and stopping of the heating system itself.
Low Heat Output
There’s probably no doubt in your mind that you have a heating system problem if cool air is blowing through your vents. The same holds true for air that’s warm—but not quite as warm as it should be or as you expect. This means your heater will have to work harder to get your home warm.
Similarly, a problem with the fan or a blockage in the system will lower the flow of air through the ducts, making it tougher for the furnace to do its job.
Short-Cycling is the process in which the furnace turns on and off again multiple times a day throughout the day rather than running in longer, regular cycles. Since the fan motor and other components use a lot more energy starting and stopping than they do simply running, short-cycling constitutes a big problem for your heater.
A furnace or gas-powered heating that doesn’t start up at all may very well have a safety issue going on—a gas leak, a faulty ignition, or some similar problem that could mean a very real threat to your home. Safety features will keep your heater from turning on in this case, which means you need to call a pro in right away to investigate what’s going on.