How to Spot Heating Problems Before They Become Serious

It’s easy to get a little paranoid about your heater’s reliability, especially in the winter and especially if you’ve had heating problems in the past. Last month, we put together a list of things to check to make sure your furnace is ready for Fall. Well, now Fall is upon is, and if you want to make doubly sure your heater is firing on all cylinders before (ahem) next season, here are some of the telltale signs of common heater problems.

Remember: a stitch in time saves nine (or in this case a weld, or something. That analogy isn’t perfect here). A little maintenance now could you save you a lot of money, time, and sanity in the future. Next time you catch yourself worrying about whether your heater is going to make it through the season, stop worrying and check for these signs instead.

Inconsistent Heating

Your heater should never be getting you anything less than exactly the temperature you need from it. Try to make note of any times you notice that your home doesn’t feel as warm as it should, or if it ever takes a long time for your heater to kick after you turn it on, or even if some rooms feel warmer than others. These could all be signs of common and easily dealt-with heater problems.

Lower-than-usual heat could happen because of a clogged burner, a heat exchanger issue, or a problem with the ignition or pilot. Different rooms could feel like they were getting more or less heat because of blockages in your air ducts, or because your heater’s fan motors or belts are stuck. If you feel like your thermostat isn’t accurately reporting the temperature of your home, that may be because it’s malfunctioning.

Spotty or Blocked Air Flow

Along with checking each room of your home, feel above the vents for whether or not you can feel hot air blowing up from your ducts. If you don’t feel anything coming out of a vent, check to make sure it’s open and there’s nothing lodged near the top of the duct. Stopped airflow could be a sign, like inconsistent room temperature, could be a sign that your furnace’s fans aren’t working the way they should be, or that there’s something stuck in your air vent and it’s keeping the hot air from getting to you. It’s also likely your furnace’s filter is dirty or clogged.

Blocked hot air can be a big issue, because when that heat doesn’t get to where it needs to go it stays in the heater and puts too much pressure on the system. Luckily, if you spot it early, you can make a minor fix that will prevent a future overheating breakdown.

More Expensive Bills

If your eyes bulge out of your head the next time you look at your monthly heating bill, it might be your fault! If you feel like you have been using your heater any more than usual, but your bill suggested you have been, it may be because your heater is no longer operating at maximum efficiency.

Any number of problems can make a heater less effective than it should be, many of which a non-professional couldn’t possibly spot or do anything about. Next time your bill makes it look like you’re trying to melt the polar ice caps, or even if it just seems higher than you’d think it would be, consider giving one of our technicians a call. You may find out there was a simple solution that could solve your problem and bring your bills back down from the stratosphere. That means after you fix the problem, wait at least another month before you do anything rash, like taking an axe to your furnace Shining-style and relying on homemade fires and mammoth-skins for warmth. We’re pretty sure mammoths are extinct.

The most important thing to keep in mind about keeping your furnace functioning is don’t panic! No matter how bizarre or unusual your problem, know that Blue Ox’s professional heating technicians are available 24 hours a day, have seen your problem before (there have been some doozies, trust us), and will help get you comfortable and warm in no time.

If you have any more questions about how your furnace works and how you can make sure it lasts a long time, check out our heating and cooling FAQ, or feel free to get in touch. You have enough to stress out about without the nagging paranoia that your heater is about to die. Take the time to make sure everything looks ok, trust yourself, and leave the fussing to us. We’re really good at fussing anyway.