Problems with your heater can sometimes be hazardous or pose risks to your home and health, so staying on top of maintenance and looking out for warning signs will help you keep it in good shape. Knowing what warning signs to look out for can help you catch problems early before they get worse or pose any serious risks.
Circuit Breaker Keeps Tripping
Running an appliance like a furnace requires a lot of power, so if you notice that the breaker for the circuit your furnace uses keeps tripping, this could indicate a problem that needs fixing before your heater is used again. There are a few issues that could cause this to happen.
First, while most heaters are installed on dedicated circuits due to their power requirements, if your heater shares a circuit with other appliances, using your heater at the same time as other appliances could overload the circuit. To fix this, you may need to make sure your heater and other appliances are run separately or hire an electrician to set up your heater on a dedicated circuit.
Second, there could be an issue with the circuit itself, such as old and faulty or damaged wiring, a short circuit, or a ground fault. This can happen due to age, or if pests have caused any damage to your wires. Electrical hazards can be very dangerous, so make sure your circuit is inspected before you use your heater again.
Finally, one of your parts could need to be repaired or replaced. Sometimes it's as simple as replacing a dirty air filter, but a tripping breaker could also mean issues with components like the blower or a malfunctioning part that could be using too much electricity. Have your heater inspected by a technician if you suspect there might be a parts-related problem.
Constant Smell of Gas
When a heater first turns on, it's normal to briefly smell gas or burning dust, especially if your heater hasn't been used in a while. If you smell gas constantly, however, something is wrong with your furnace or its venting system.
As part of its normal operation, your heater will vent carbon monoxide. Typically, gases are vented safely outside your house, but if your exhaust pipe is clogged or blocked, or if there is a leak in the heat exchanger, this carbon monoxide could be coming into your house instead. This poses several risks, such as fire hazards and carbon monoxide poisoning. While you can attempt to make sure your exhaust pipes are clear and undamaged, it's a good idea to also call a technician to inspect your entire unit for you for safety purposes.
Buzzing or Banging Sounds
While a furnace will make some noise whenever it operates, it shouldn't be noticeably loud. If you hear any unusual or erratic sounds, like loud buzzing or banging sounds, this usually means one of your important parts is starting to fail and needs repair.
A banging sound that occurs every time you turn your heater on could come from dirty furnace burners; this can cause gas to build up inside of igniting immediately so that when it does ignite properly, it causes a loud banging sound. If the banging is constant, or if it sounds like grinding, a component like the blower could be loose and rattling around as it moves whenever the furnace is on.
A buzzing sound could hint at an electrical issue. For example, if your capacitor is failing, it may make a buzzing or humming sound. This is because your motor will still receive power, but due to the failing capacitor, it won't be able to work properly. These issues may not pose a safety risk, but could quickly get worse if left unfixed, as it will cause strain on your system.
Contact a heating services contractor in your area to learn more.