12 Signs Your Furnace is in Need of Repair

Think of your furnace as the heart of your home, pumping heat through the vents and out of the registers. When your furnace starts to experience problems producing heat, then your home becomes uncomfortable, and in some climates, unliveable. 

We all need our furnaces working effectively and efficiently throughout the entire year. But how do you know your furnace is starting to experience operational problems? 

Today, we're going to take a look at signs you can catch so you can tell if your furnace needs a repair. 

Whether you're only experiencing whispers of furnace problems, or if your furnace has failed to work at all, schedule a repair or tune-up with one of our HVAC professionals.

The Furnace Isn't Turning On

It should be no surprise that the #1 sign on our list is the fact that your furnace isn't turning on at all.

Your furnace can fail for a variety of reasons. Still, a complete failure is usually indicative of a problem that was allowed to develop over time without intervention. You can tell if you are experiencing a furnace failure if you notice no heat is being produced or if the blower motor isn't making any sounds.

Some of you might fancy yourselves as the handy type, and that's great! However, before you dive in and take a look at your furnace yourself, we always recommend scheduling an appointment with our technicians first. There are plenty of parts inside your furnace that can be dangerous if the right precautions aren't taken. So, for your safety, please call a professional before attempting any at-home repairs. 

a working pilot light with a blue flame

Discoloured Pilot Light

For your home to get any warmer, your furnace is going to need a heat source. And if your furnace is gas-powered, then it needs to have a burner to produce that heat. For a burner to work, it needs a pilot light.

The pilot light is a little flame that stays on at all times, serving as the ignition flame for the gas burner. In normal working conditions, pilot lights emit a blue colour. This means the flame has enough air to combust the fuel used.

However, if you are seeing a yellow colour being emitted from your pilot light, then there is most likely a problem with the airflow in the combustion chamber.

Poor Heating

The main job of any furnace is to heat your home. If you notice your furnace is performing their job poorly, then it is time to schedule a repair. Different things can cause your furnace to fail to produce enough heat, such as a dirty air filter, a clogged or broken blower motor, or even a blocked air duct.

One of the first steps towards fixing this problem is checking the air filter of your furnace, located between the return air duct and the blower motor chamber. If this is clogged, then a replacement filter may solve your issues. If the problem persists after this easy fix, then it is time to call in the professionals.

Weird Noises

If your furnace is making sounds that don't sound normal, then there is either a problem developing, or a problem already exists. Some of these strange noises may include humming, clicking, banging, squealing, rattling, or even scraping. 

Different sounds typically correspond to different issues. If you hear excessive humming or scrapping, there might be an issue with your blower motor. The fan of the blower motor is held to the motor through a series of different mounting bolts and screws. If any of these are loose, it can cause a rattling or scraping sound.

Depending on the motor, a belt might be used to spin the fan and transfer heat around your home. If the belt is frayed or worn down, it could cause a humming or squealing sound.

Poor Air Flow

Not only does your furnace produce heat, but it also transfers that heat throughout your home. However, if your furnace is having a problem with providing sufficient airflow, then it might be time to get it looked at by a professional.

Airflow problems can stem from blower motor issues, dirty air filters, or even blocked ductwork. 

Your Furnace is Old

The average life expectancy of a furnace system usually is around 12 to 15 years. While that may seem like a long time, chances are you have moved into a home where the furnace was probably already a few years old.

An excellent practice to implement before you move into a new home is to get an idea of how old the furnace is and if it had any recent repairs. Having this information will help you get a better understanding of your home heating system and if you need to prepare for any future repairs. 

Scheduling a tune-up can also give you an overall status check, so you are never caught off guard by unexpected furnace problems.

Unusually High Heating Bill

If you are starting to notice your home heating bill continually growing over time, there is probably an issue with the overall efficiency of your furnace. We instinctively raise the temperature on the thermostat whenever we feel like our home is too cold. But, continually turning up the thermostat may indicate that your furnace is no longer running at peak efficiency. 

So what could be the problem here? Some of the more common issues can include dirty air filters, broken blower motors, or even clogged air vents. The combustion system might be dirty as well, preventing the pilot light from igniting the burner effectively. Decreased efficiency means your furnace has to work harder than it used just to keep your home comfortable, leading to higher heating bills.

Strange Smells

Our furnaces should only be responsible for transporting heat around our homes, not odours. Depending on the issue, different scents could originate from either your furnace or your duct system; however, the most concerning odour would be the smell of gas. This smell could point to a possible gas leak in your furnace system.

If your blower motor is seized, it can overheat and possibly even melt through electrical wiring connected to the motor, causing an electrical burning type of odour.

Odours can also be indicative of build-up on the heating coils being burned. 

You're Constantly Adjusting Your Thermostat

Coming back to your thermostat over and over again is annoying. If you find yourself experiencing this same issue, then it might be time to schedule a repair. Thermostats are responsible for telling your furnace how much heat it needs to produce and what temperature it needs to maintain.

If you find that your home never seems to be reaching the right level of heat, there is a possibility the thermostat's wiring is faulty. This can happen as a result of age, but it also might be indicative of an issue stemming from your blower motor or even your burner.

You or Your Family is Experiencing Unexplained Health Issues

It might be one of the last things you consider, but a furnace breakdown might affect your health or the health of your loved ones. If your furnace has a broken heat exchanger, carbon monoxide can leak into your home. If this happens, you may experience health problems like headaches and flu-like symptoms. If you experience these symptoms and don’t have the flu, you should leave home immediately and contact a specialist for an emergency inspection and repair.

If you have a carbon monoxide detector, it will sound an alarm if there is too much poisonous gas in the air.

Your Home is Dusty or Dry

If you find that your home is continuously filling up with dust or if the air feels unusually dry, then there might be a problem developing with your furnace. This is often caused by a dirty air filter. If your home is starting to experience sub-par airflow, this could be indicative of blower motor issues or even clogged or broken air duct systems.

Blower Motor Is Always On

Furnaces work by turning on for a set period, creating heat using the heat exchanger, then blowing warm air through the ducts using the blower motor. Then, at the end of the heating cycle, the furnace turns off again.

However, if you are starting to discover that your blower motor is continually running, then you might be experiencing a problem. A blowing motor that is always running may indicate that there is a problem with your thermostat’s wiring, or that the thermostat isn’t set correctly.

If you can't find a solution by changing the settings on your thermostat, then it will be time to call a professional to take a more in-depth look into the problem.