Once winter’s chill settles in, people rely on the heat their furnace provides on a daily basis. But if their furnace isn’t operating properly, it can quickly become a frustrating situation. Frequent repairs are costly and inconvenient, and when your furnace isn’t working right, you’re likely to be concerned about your family’s comfort and safety. Nobody wants to think about being without heat when the cold weather hits, but that’s usually when your furnace breaks down.
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So, short of waiting for it to happen, what can you as a homeowner do? Fortunately, there are a few indications that spell trouble for your furnace. Knowing your furnace’s age and repair history, and keeping an eye on your energy bills from year to year are all helpful places to start. And, ENERGY STAR® offers a few signs that point to a possible furnace breakdown – we’re sharing five of the most important signs below.
5 Signs that Your Furnace May Be Headed for a Breakdown
- Excessive Dust. The good news is, if your furnace seems to be producing excessive dust without any other problems, the fix is likely a relatively simple one. You probably just need to replace your furnace filter. Your filter collects dust, dirt, and other particles in the course of the usual furnace operation. When it gets dirty, it blows those particles through the air in your home. Changing it whenever it’s dirty helps alleviate this problem. Of course, if there are other issues along with excessive dust, or you’re not sure how to change your filter, calling your heating contractor is always a good idea.
- Unusual Noises. As with any other type of equipment, your furnace will make some noise during the course of the usual operation. However, there are some noises that aren’t normal, such as banging or squealing. When those noises are present, there could be issues with belts or the motor, so having it serviced by a professional is probably in order.
- Equipment Age. While nobody wants to think about the expense of having to replace a furnace, no equipment lasts forever. If your furnace is around 15 years old, and it isn’t keeping your home as comfortable as you’d like or heating bills are inexplicably creeping up, then it may very well be time to start thinking about a replacement. Of course, there are some things you can do to ensure your furnace lasts as long as possible, like annual maintenance and changing the filter whenever it is dirty.
- High Utility Bills. If the price of utilities hasn’t increased substantially, but there has been a noticeable spike in your utility bills, the chances are your furnace is working harder than it needs to – and therefore is using more energy. This could be because of a problem with your furnace that needs to be addressed by a qualified contractor, so the best thing to do is to call your HVAC professional if you notice this is happening.
- Frequent Repairs. A furnace that needs to be repaired often is definitely more likely to break down entirely at some point. This is especially true if your furnace is on the older side, or hasn’t received proper annual maintenance. Eventually, you’ll need to weigh the costs of repairs against the cost of purchasing a new system. One way to decide if you should keep repairing your system or consider replacing is following the “5000 Rule” – multiply the repair cost by the age of your unit, and if it meets or exceeds 5000, it may be time to replace. For instance, if your furnace is 12 years old, and the repair is $480, that comes out to 5,760 – and a replacement may be in order.
What to Do If You Think Your Furnace Might Need Repair or Replacement
If your furnace is showing any of the above signs, or you’re simply concerned that it isn’t operating properly, your next step is to contact a trusted heating contractor. No matter what your heating need, Stafford Mechanical Services, Inc. is ready to assist you. We proudly service Carrier heating equipment and many other brands as well. You may contact us via phone at (860) 684-9485. We look forward to helping you with all of your heating needs.