These Top 6 Signs May Mean It’s Time to Call in the HVAC Professionals!
One reason many people enjoy living in the Southeast is the milder climate year round. This may make it seem like a home’s heating system works less every year, not the case. A milder winter can actually strain a heating system even more. This is due to customers shutting them off and on again more frequently to enjoy the occasional “open window” weather day that can pop up in February or March.
This is also why the winter to spring transition is when many people discover there is something wrong with their heating system. It may have been running “fine” in December and January when it was on around the clock, but the change in operational demands has revealed some troubling symptoms.
The best way to catch any problems early (when they are usually less expensive to address) is to have your local One Hour Heating and Air technician conduct a comprehensive safety check on your system.
However, to help you better communicate the symptoms to your technician, and maybe even do a little DIY inspection yourself if you choose, we’ve compiled the Top 6 Signs most customers encounter when their heating system acts up.
1. Your heater has suddenly stopped working entirely:
What to check: Test the igniter switch: As units age, this becomes a common problem. On older models, this can mean relighting the pilot light. Newer systems have electronic ignitors and come with a reset button. If the reset button doesn’t work, check the breaker in your electrical panel. If you are still dead in the water, the experts at One Hour HVAC can help, depending on where the problem lies.
2. Uneven room-to-room temperatures, or unable to maintain a steady setting: If your heating system is working properly with well-maintained components, it should, for the most part, heat your entire house with only a couple degrees difference between levels and rooms.
What to check: The thermostat
Make sure you feel heat blowing through vents in each room. To do this, start from scratch; shut off the system, then turn it on in heat mode, and set the desired temperature to a couple degrees above the current room temperature. You should hear the furnace start up. Go throughout the house and check to see if there is warm air blowing through the vents. If nothing happens, you can technically remove the thermostat cover to check that the wiring is strong and secure. If the wiring looks good, it could be the furnace fan, heat pump or blower. If you do not feel warm air in every room, it could be a problem in the ducts, as well. These are both steps your One Hour Heating and Air professional will check for you, as well.
Clean the heat exchanger: This step requires a vigorous, but careful, brushing and vacuuming each year. The unit needs to be shut off when the cleaning is performed. During this time, the unit needs to be inspected for cracks which could lead to a carbon monoxide leak in your home. Since improperly brushing or vacuuming of the unit could damage components and lead to more expensive repairs, we recommend this only be done by a skilled professional.
Other potential reasons:
- You may have blocked vents
- The furnace is not getting enough electrical power
- The unit is not the right size for your home
3. Increased health issues among those living in the home: Colder months mean more time spent indoors breathing air that circulates through your home. If you notice that you or others living in your home start experiencing increased headaches or irritation of the eyes, nose, and throat it could be more than the common cold. Your heating system could be negatively impacting your indoor air quality.
What to check: Air filters
Those large square grills (or grates) throughout your home cover your HVAC system’s air filters. With little more than a simple toggle in most cases, these grills open and you can easily replace the dirty air filter inside. Ideally, changing them every few months is best, but many homeowners set bi-annual or annual anniversaries to do so. What’s important is that the filters aren’t left to get so full that they lose their ability to keep the air your family breaths clean and safe, nor that it interferes with efficient operation.
This is particularly important in homes that have pets, where occupants smoke, or they have allergies to dust, pet dander, and pollen. If you enjoy those open window evenings, your filters will definitely need to be change more frequently.
Carbon monoxide detectors and your chimney: If headaches, dizziness, or even nausea are increasing in frequency and intensity, it’s time to check the carbon monoxide detectors in your home (if you don’t have any, get some today!) The detectors should come with a small test button or instructions on how to ensure they are working properly, much like you might test the batteries in your smoke detectors annually. The root of carbon monoxide poisoning in many cases is the chimney and you should check to make sure yours doesn’t have an obstruction. Carbon monoxide poisoning is potentially lethal and if you suspect you might have a leak, it’s critical that it be addressed immediately. Please share your concerns with your local One Hour Heating and Air professional and we will prioritize your same-day service call.
4. You experience an unusual smell in the home: Don’t ignore it, trust your nose and investigate!
What to check: Burning or overheating odor? Your system may have a malfunctioning electrical system, cut off power to the unit and advise your One Hour technician.
A musty smell? Moisture has gotten into the air ducts, and mold is accumulating. This reduces your indoor air quality and puts those with allergies at risk (see also air filters).
A rotten egg smell? This could be a natural gas leak and must be handled investigated immediately. If you suspect you have a natural gas leak, evacuate your home at once and alert your local One Hour Heating and Air expert for a priority service call.
5. Increased energy bills or noisy operation (banging, rattling, or squealing):
What to check: The age of your unit
The longevity of a typical heater is 15 years. If you suspect your system is reaching the end of its lifespan, but don’t know the exact age, check the unit for an installation date or a code that indicates when the parts were made. If you’re seeing any of the above signs and your heater was installed close to 15 years ago, it may simply be time to replace the unit.
The blower motor: This is a mechanical part of the unit that can slow down due to wear over time. Some models require lubrication on their blower motors, others do not. If your particular model does require lubrication, it is something you can do on your own, if you’re comfortable. Turn off the unit, open the cover, and clean the caps that cover the bearings. Once clean, you can remove the caps and properly lubricate the bearings. Then, replace the caps and the cover. Your One Hour HVAC professional can also take care of this for you.
6. The pilot light is yellow: If the normally blue flame is now yellow or orange, it can mean one of two things.
- The gas-to-air mixture in your gas boiler is likely incorrect and too much air is getting into the system.
- A slight breeze could cause extra air to get into your gas supply and cause your pilot light to blow out or burn yellow or orange.
- A blocked vent or flue
- The flame may simply need to be adjusted and most pilot lights have a small screw or knob that you can turn to do just that.
- The pilot tube is clogged with dirt and grime
Hazardous reason: The system could be leaking carbon monoxide. If your carbon monoxide detectors go off, this is probably the reason. Evacuate the home immediately and call 911. Then, as with a natural gas leak, contact One Hour Heating and Air so we can priority repair the system and get your family back in as soon as possible.
These are six of the most common reasons why your heater may not be working properly. One Hour Heating and Air is standing by to address any issue with your system and keep your family comfortable, safe, and healthy all year round. If it’s time to replace an aging system, we can also provide financing options that will make heating and cooling your home more affordable. Our professionals are your go-to HVAC team in Charlotte and the surrounding area, including Indian Trail, Concord, and Mooresville.
Call our 24/7 customer service line today (704) 703-4220.