With the winter weather settling in, the prospect of your furnace failing is a scary one. Having to be stranded in the cold for a day or two while you wait for a service person to come in and check it out, and then either have to fix or replace it is not something you want to be doing in January.
Luckily, your furnace actually gives you some warning signs before it fails completely if you know what to look for. In this article, we’re going to walk you through some of the more obvious signs that your furnace is on its last legs so that you can make a call to have it serviced before it conks out on you.
To put it simply, if your furnace is old enough to drive, vote, smoke, or order a beer, it’s probably time to replace it. Most furnaces can last between 15 to 20 years, but it’s a good idea to keep an eye on them once they start to hit that 15-year mark.
If you don’t know how old your furnace is, do not worry. It’s actually pretty easy to check. The date of manufacture is typically printed on the label in the furnace’s serial number. However, depending on the age of the furnace, finding the label may be a bit more challenging.
The label is usually a sticker, piece of paper, or metal tag. In new models, it tends to be printed on the front of the unit, but finding it in older models proves more difficult at times. If you can’t find the label on the front, check around the back. If it’s not there either, turn off your furnace and look inside the cabinet door. If it’s still not found, check the inside components. It could be on a fan blade, the gas valve, the interior cabinet, the access panel, or even the blower compartment panel.
Once you’ve found the label and have located the serial number, head over to FurnacePrices for a quick rundown of how to read the serial number in order to determine age.
Cycling On And Off
If you find that your furnace has a habit of starting and stopping quite often, it’s likely because something in its system is cutting it off before it can finish a full heating cycle. This could be a sign that your furnace is failing, but it could also just mean that your heat sensor needs a good cleaning.
If you clean out your heat sensor and the cycling hasn’t stopped, it’s probably time to put in a call to a technician because it could mean many other things, including a dying fan motor.
While this is happening, you may notice other signs indicating your fan motor giving out, or parts that need to be cleaned. Excessive dust coming from the vents could mean that the filters need to be cleaned or replaced. Dirty filters could also be behind excessive heating bills because they cut off proper airflow from your furnace, which makes it work double-time to adjust to even the smallest change in temperature.
So before calling in a service technician, make sure that all parts that can be cleaned are taken care of.
Your Flue Is Rusted
While this may seem like not that big of a deal – rust happens all the time – it’s actually one of the things you need to check regularly because it can be very dangerous.
If leaks in your plumbing or roof have caused your flue to rust, it’s time to get it replaced immediately because it can lead to improperly vented carbon monoxide. Gas furnaces will produce a dangerously high amount of CO, so they rely on their flue to vent those gases outside. If the flue has rusted through, your furnace could be venting that Carbon Monoxide into your home.
And there’s a reason that Carbon Monoxide is called the Silent Killer. The gas is tasteless, orderless, colorless, and is non-irritating. So if it’s leaking into your home, you often don’t know until it’s pretty close to being too late. This is why it’s so important to install a Carbon Monoxide detector in a home that uses a gas furnace. Check out Family Handyman for tips on how and where to install a CO detector.
Another indication that you could have leakage of Carbon Monoxide into your home is the color of the pilot light or burner flame. Watch the flame when it first flares up. If it’s yellow, it could mean the burner is dirty, which means the gas is likely not being completely burned off. If this is the case, it could mean that the CO is not being properly vented, and you should have it checked as soon as possible.
There are many other signs that your furnace could be failing, so these are just a jumping-off point for your research. If you’re looking for more information about your furnace, or need help with repairs or maintenance, visit us at Habberjam, and we’d be happy to help.