Recognizing Furnace Issues: Warning Signs & When to Call

11/21/19
Recognizing Furnace Issues

We rely on our furnaces a lot here in Minnesota. Naturally, we want to minimize costs and the risk of repairs. Earlier this month, we outlined some common heating mistakes to avoid this winter, but unfortunately there’s no way to guarantee a trouble-free heating season. Here are some warning signs for recognizing furnace issues.

Higher Utility Bills

Unexpected spikes in your bill are an unpleasant shock, and they’re also a red flag for your furnace. If a component is damaged, the system has to work harder, and thus burn more fuel, to heat your home.

Similarly, don’t just crank the thermostat and foot a higher bill if you notice decreased performance from your furnace. If heat distribution has reduced or become uneven, your system needs professional attention.

Strange Sounds

Properly working HVAC systems are designed for quiet operation. If you hear any banging, popping, rattling, or squealing (especially when turning the furnace on), there’s a good chance something is wrong or broken with the furnace.

Pay attention to the blower as well. If it turns on or off frequently, runs excessively, or even blows cold air at times, it may be time for a new furnace.

Strange, Persistent Smells

A slight burning smell is normal when your furnace is first switched on after a long time. Dust accumulates inside ductwork and on the heat exchanger, so it’s natural and should only last a few hours. However, if it lasts longer or occurs randomly, it could indicate something as serious as a broken electrical component.

Poor Indoor Air Quality

When working properly, your furnace should help maintain indoor air quality and humidity. Signs that yours is failing and needs repair service include:

  • Air feels stuffy or stale
  • Suffering from dry nose, throat, or skin
  • Frequent dust accumulation and static shocks
  • Cracking furniture or woodwork
  • Enhanced sensitivity to airborne allergens like dust, mold, pollen, and dander


Yellow or Flickering Burner Flame

The burner flame of a properly functioning furnace should be blue with a consistent burn. If it’s yellow and/or flickering, your furnace may be leaking poisonous carbon monoxide. Other signs of this potentially life-threatening issue include:

  • Soot streaks around the furnace
  • Excess moisture on cold surfaces like windows and walls
  • Lack of upward draft in chimney
  • Rusting flue pipes or other pipe connections

If you notice any of these, contact your local HVAC professional immediately.

Unexplained Illness in the Family

Older furnaces can develop a crack in the heat exchanger, allowing carbon monoxide to leak into the home undetected. Some signs of exposure appear as seemingly common illnesses, so beware of the following:

  • Nausea
  • Frequent headaches
  • Flu-like symptoms
  • Disorientation
  • Burning feeling in nose/eyes

Again, carbon monoxide poisoning can cause serious harm and even death. If someone in your home exhibits these symptoms, first seek medical attention and then contact your heating technician ASAP.

We’re already in the second half of November. Recognizing furnace issues is important during the winter season, but you can stay ahead by scheduling a preventative maintenance appointment today. And for all your heating and cooling needs, rely on the HVAC experts at Stafford Home Service. Contact us today to schedule a service or for more information.

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