Having a furnace go out unexpectedly is one of the more stressful experiences a homeowner faces. Fortunately, furnaces do give certain telltale signs of when they’re on the way out, and these signs can be apparent to anyone in the home – you just need to know what to look for. By keeping watch for these seven signs, you can be ready for a furnace repair or replacement when it’s time. In addition, you can avoid certain health risks that are encountered from using an old furnace.
1. Age of Your Furnace. According to the Department of Energy, the average lifespan of today’s furnaces is somewhere between 16-20 years. If your furnace is getting up there, you’re far better off beginning to shop now, while you can take some time to find your best option. If your home is older and you aren’t sure how old your furnace is, check for a pilot light. If the furnace has one, it’s at least 25 years old.
2. Tinkering with the Thermostat. Are some rooms far warmer than others? Do you find yourself playing with the thermostat more than you used to? If so, it could be from your furnace losing its ability to distribute air evenly around your home. For the short-term, close the registers in any rooms you’re not using. This will allow the heat to concentrate in the living areas of your home. It’s not a fix, but it could buy you some time until you get the new furnace installed.
3. Strange Noises. Is your furnace making unexpected popping, banging or squealing noises? Rest assured that it’s not haunted, but also rest assured that its days are numbered. Old furnaces begin to make these noises as a result of working too hard to heat your home. At the very least, get your furnace inspected, but know that there may be a replacement in the near future.
4. Higher Gas and Electric Bills. The increase in heating expenses isn’t necessarily something that your gas or electric company imposes from higher energy costs. An older or poorly maintained heating system can also be the culprit, requiring more energy to give the same amount of heat. By investing in a new system now, you’ll reduce your monthly energy bill, and the new furnace will pay for itself.
5. Risk of Carbon Monoxide. Take a look at the burner flame in your furnace. If the flame is yellow, not blue, your furnace may be producing carbon monoxide. Some other signs of carbon monoxide include:
- Soot deposits (usually in streaks) around the furnace,
- Moisture found on windows or walls,
- Excessive rusting on flue pipes or appliance jacks, or
- Rust on the portion of the vent pipe visible from the outside.
6. A Dry or Dusty Home. Stale air in your home can be attributed to a poor-performing furnace. Frequent allergic reactions to dust, mold or dander, or suffering from excessively dry skin can be cured with a new heating system. Some other signs to look for include:
- Frequent dust build-up (needing to dust more often),
- Static discharge (shocks),
- Unhealthy, lifeless-looking plants, or
- Difficulty in keeping musical instruments in tune.
7. Health Issues. As furnaces get older, they can develop cracks in the heat exchanger, which can leak poisonous carbon monoxide into your home. The presence of carbon monoxide can become apparent if you or someone in your home is developing frequent headaches, nausea, or a burning sensation in the nose/eyes. If you experience any of these, air out your house, open a window to the furnace room and immediately call a gas service technician.
These seven symptoms can easily go unnoticed, or attributed to some unrelated cause. But by understanding that your furnace can be the cause, you’ll be far more prepared to replace the furnace before it quits on you completely, or you suffer from unnecessary health ailments. Is your furnace a suspect? Give us a call and we’ll check it out for you!