Know the Signs of Furnace Failure
November 18, 2011
Cold weather has arrived, and with it comes your furnace’s busiest time of year. To avoid frigid nights, be aware of signs your furnace may be failing. If you ignore the signs, you could be in for a cold, expensive surprise this winter.
The first thing you should think about is your furnace’s age. A typical furnace has a lifespan of around 10 years. If yours is getting close to, or has passed, this age, have it inspected by a professional to diagnose any potential problems. If you don’t know how old your furnace is, a professional should be able to give you a good idea of its age.
Take notice of the comfort level in your home. If the temperature is hotter in some rooms and colder in others, your furnace may not be distributing the air properly. If you feel cold air coming out of your vents when it should be warm, this is another warning sign.
Have you had to have your furnace repaired in the past few years? Like everything else that ages, most problems occur toward the end of your furnace’s life. If there has been more than one repair, talk to your repair technician about your furnace’s estimated remaining life.
Any strange noises coming from your furnace, such as popping, rattling, or banging, are a sign that it is not working correctly. You should hear only the sound of the blower turning on and off.
Rising utility bills are usually blamed on the price of energy, but they can also mean that your furnace has lost much of its efficiency and is working harder to provide the same amount of heat. If the blower is turning on and off constantly, your furnace is not running efficiently.
Check out your burner flame. It should be blue. If it is yellow, this is a sign that your furnace could be leaking carbon monoxide, a toxic gas. Other signs include streaks of soot around the furnace, rust on flue pipes, and moisture on cold surfaces such as windows or walls. If carbon monoxide is present in your home it can be poison your family. Symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning include headaches, nausea, disorientation and a burning feeling in the eyes and nose. If anyone notices these symptoms, call a professional immediately.
Furnace failure does not need to be a surprise when it happens. Take a few minutes now, at the beginning of the heating season, to think about whether you’ve noticed any of the signs listed above. If so, have a professional give your furnace a thorough check-up so you have fair warning and can stop any major problems before they start.
Last Updated: September 13, 2023