If your furnace is giving you a steady supply of hot air but doesn't seem to be operating the way it should, there may be an issue that requires professional repair. Symptoms like a heater turning off more quickly than it should, foul smells coming from your vents, or loud noises coming from the furnace as it starts or runs are all signs of things that need to be addressed. Here's what to look out for and what they mean.
Heater Turns Off After A Short Time
It's normal for a heater to turn off and on several times within an hour, but if you've noticed that your heater only runs for a minute or two at a time before shutting back off again, this is usually the result of some kind of safety feature being triggered more than it's supposed to be. There are many safety features in your furnace, most of which will tell the furnace to shut off if they detect any risk of damage to your furnace or your home. For example, if you have a very dirty air filter that is restricting airflow, the furnace may start to overheat and need to shut down.
There are many potential causes for this type of problem, which is known specifically as "short cycling." You can try replacing your air filter and checking the wires behind your thermostat for any signs of damage to start, but if everything looks fine and the problem doesn't stop, call an HVAC technician for repair. The problem then could include the blower motor, the heat sensor, or the flue. The good news is that repairs generally involve replacing a single component, not replacing your entire furnace.
Foul Smells Coming From Vents
You may be familiar with the smell of burning dust that comes when you turn on your furnace for the first time in winter, and while it may be inconvenient, it's completely harmless. If you notice a foul odor or any persistent odor that lasts longer than twenty-four hours, you may have a problem that needs addressing.
What is potentially the most dangerous smell to detect is that of rotten eggs or sulfur. This can indicate a gas leak, which can quickly cause harm to people living in your home. If this is what you smell, immediately turn off your heater, open doors and windows to ventilate your house, and call your gas company.
An odor that smells more like burning rubber or hot metal can indicate that one of the parts of your furnace itself is getting too hot. While this lessens the risk of damage to the rest of your home, it's still a threat to your entire furnace and its components. If caught early, this damage can often be repaired before it affects anything else.
Loud Noises When Heater is Running
Apart from a clicking sound every time your furnace starts to run, it should run quietly whenever it's on. Any loud sounds, repeated or not, are a sign of something that needs repair even if your heater seems to be working perfectly fine.
Whistling or rattling sounds are generally a result of duct-related problems; loose seals, loose screws, or any gaps. This is a problem worth fixing not just to keep your heater quiet, but to fix any gaps that may be causing you to lose hot air. It can also be an intake problem where the furnace is not getting as much air as it should.
A banging sound when the furnace turns on can also be a duct problem, but it can also be what's called a delayed gas ignition problem, where gas builds up and then suddenly ignites rather than being lit from the start. This problem can be caused by a pilot light malfunction, gas supply problem, or burner issue.
Speak with a technician from a company like Powder River Heating & Air Conditioning Inc to learn more.