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Before you turn your furnace on for winter, you should really have it checked out by a professional. Don’t skip this once-a-year service just because things seem to be running smoothly. Maintenance makes a difference in how well your system performs and lasts. Here are our top reasons why:

When was the last time your furnace was looked at? If the answer is a year or longer, you’re due for annual maintenance. At the very least, your filter will definitely need to be replaced.

Your Furnace is Old

As your furnace ages, you may have more trouble turning the unit on. If you have to try multiple times to start the unit, you likely need to have it repaired. These functionality issues often stem from disconnected wiring or damaged thermostats. Replacing the affected part should resolve the issue. Most furnace systems are only designed to last 10 to 20 years. If yours is older than 15 years, there’s a chance it will develop an issue soon.

Your Furnace Is Leaking

There are two substances your furnace can potentially leak: gas and water. Now, a water leak is significantly less dangerous than the other, but it still needs to be addressed quickly if you want your house to stay warm. You can easily identify this problem just by checking for water pooling near or under your furnace. This is generally caused by a clogged condensate line, a problem best left to professionals because it requires a mix of HVAC and plumbing expertise to fix. A gas leak, unlike water, is usually identified when you smell gas. If this is the case, shut down your furnace immediately. Next, open up your furnace, find the gas supply valve, and turn it off. Don’t light any matches or turn on any lights in your home—and call a local HVAC technician as soon as possible.

No furnace is silent, but loud and persistent noises can indicate a serious problem. Pay attention to the sounds you hear. Squealing and whistling noises may come from belt or fan issues while banging or groaning can result from broken and loose internal components.

Ineffective Thermostat

A thermostat that becomes ineffective—meaning you have to turn it higher and higher to heat your home even a little bit—is a definite sign your furnace needs to be repaired. The thermostat’s main job is to tell your HVAC system how much heat to produce, and if it stops doing that, you have a problem a professional needs to address. Malfunctions with this component often occur due to electrical issues, like blown fuses, loose wiring, or tripped circuit breakers. Because of the risk for shock, they can be a bit dangerous to fix if you haven’t had any formal training.

A heating bill that goes up, way up, without a corresponding bump in use, is another strong indicator your system needs repair. There are a few things that can be wrong, including problems with the ductwork, and it’s often really difficult to figure out the culprit. A trained HVAC technician, however, has the equipment and expertise to find the problem, and advise you on the next steps.

Furnace Malfunctions

Furnace malfunctions can be dangerous. A failed system can leave you without heat on bitter-cold winter nights. Plus a cracked heat exchanger can emit poisonous carbon monoxide. If your furnace has started blowing cold air instead of hot, that’s not good. The most common causes for this are issues with the thermocouple or pilot light. Both of which are complex components that need specialized expertise to evaluate. Don’t try to figure this one out on your own. If you hear your furnace kicking on and off repeatedly, this means it’s running more often than it should be. That’s a problem that may be caused by a clogged filter, improper air circulation, or complications with the thermostat. As we’ve seen with a few of the other items above, it’s best to call a professional for repairs when the cause is tough to pin down.

One of the best and most effective ways to do this is to keep to a regular maintenance schedule. Preventative check-ups every fall, and sometimes also mid-way through a particularly demanding winter, are a great way to lessen the odds of experiencing these troubles in the first place.

Have any questions about furnace repairs or maintenance? Contact us here.