How To Spot Winter Furnace Failures

It’s every homeowner’s worst nightmare; the temperature drops, you go to turn the furnace on, and nothing happens. Or worse yet, you come home from work to a freezing cold house, despite turning the thermostat up before you left. These unexpected winter furnace failures can be prevented if you know what to look for in advance. 

Stay warm this winter and learn how to spot signs of impending furnace failure. 

Your Heating Bills Are Constantly Increasing

Heating bills that seem to be continually increasing could be a sign of impending furnace failure. If you find yourself paying more and more every month to keep your furnace running, your furnace is likely working harder than it needs to be. Keep an eye on your bill and call a professional if you see it inexplicably increasing every month. 

An inefficient furnace could be due to a lack of maintenance, as poorly maintained furnaces run less efficiently. A simple maintenance check and cleaning can help to solve this problem. At a maintenance appointment, a technician can repair or replace worn parts as well as clear out dust and debris that could be causing your furnace to work overtime. 

Your Furnace Is Making Strange Noises

The only sound you should hear coming from your furnace is the blower fan turning on and off. Even then, it should be subtle enough that it becomes white noise and not something you constantly notice when your furnace is running. If you hear screeching, popping, banging, or humming sounds, they could be signs of furnace trouble.  

Depending on the noise, it could be time to have a part repaired or replaced before it causes a complete furnace failure. Screeching and squealing sounds, for example, could be a sign that your blower motor is damaged or worn out. 

The sound of your furnace continually turning on and off is another cause for concern. If your furnace is cycling on and off constantly, there could be a larger problem. It may just be a sign that your furnace isn’t the right size for your home, but at the very least, your furnace switching on and off frequently will burn more energy, cause more wear and tear, and ultimately increase maintenance and repair costs. 

Your Furnace Smells Strange

A slight odour can be normal the first time you turn your furnace on for the winter, but the odour should go away as your furnace continues to run.  If the odour doesn't dissipate quickly, you may want to try replacing your furnace filter and see if that solves the problem. If the smell still doesn’t go away, it could be time for a duct cleaning or a furnace maintenance check.

woman plugging her nose because of an unpleasant smell

It’s always best to have your furnace checked if you notice unusual smells as they could be due to a more serious problem, especially if you have an older gas furnace. The smell of gas should always be looked into right away by a professional.

One of the most serious problems, however, will have no smell at all. Carbon monoxide is odourless, which is why it’s important to have working carbon monoxide detectors in your home, especially if you have a gas furnace. Regular maintenance checks can help catch issues that cause carbon monoxide poisoning, like a cracked heat exchanger. 

Your Furnace Isn’t Keeping You Warm

Several things could be preventing your furnace from keeping your home warm. A simple filter change could solve the problem, especially if it’s been over 3 months since you last replaced it. Depending on the exact heating issue, it could be a problem with a variety of other furnace components.

If some rooms in your home are warm while others are cold, you could be dealing with a blocked duct. If all the rooms in your home are cold, it could be due to a clogged burner or even a faulty thermostat. Assuming your thermostat is set correctly and your house is still cold, it’s time to call for a furnace repair

Your Furnace Fails or Fails to Start

Of course, if your furnace fails or fails to turn on, you know you have a furnace problem. The exact cause could be any number of problems, including a broken thermostat, faulty wiring, or broken blower fan. If your furnace is between 8 and 15 years old, it could be time to start thinking about having your furnace replaced

Otherwise, regular furnace maintenance is the best way to keep your furnace running all winter long. You should schedule a maintenance appointment at least once per year for your furnace. Annual maintenance keeps your furnace running efficiently and reliably, as it allows a technician to catch issues before they lead to complete failures. 

Whether you need repairs, maintenance, or a new furnace, we’re here to help. Furnasman has been serving Winnipeg and the surrounding area since 1939, so we’re sure to have a furnace solution that will keep you comfortable. Contact us to have your furnace checked this winter.