When you turn on the heat for the first time in months, it’s natural to have some teething problems. Dormant equipment needs time to warm up, and some unusual phenomena should be expected. A prime example would be the burning odor that dissipates a short time after the furnace is turned on. This is caused by dust burning on the surface of the furnace, and the smell disappears after that dust has burned away. But, there are other underlying problems that are harder to detect if you don’t know what to look out for. Here we’ll explore five ways to identify if your heating system is failing.

1.  A Lack of Heat

If you’ve noticed that you’re turning up the temperature and yet there doesn’t seem to be any appreciable difference, this is a sure sign that something is wrong. Over time, this problem will become worse, and you may notice that the heating system is working harder. But, the temperature can never meet the setting on the thermostat, and the problem will not improve without some professional intervention.

There are a few possible causes. The first is a problem with the thermostat which may need repair or replacement. The second problem is related to the blower unit, which may be failing. The final issue could be the ignition system which isn’t working as intended. If this problem is ignored for too long, it may lead to a more expensive repair bill later.

2.  Strange Noises

A heating system is comprised of electric, electrical and mechanical components. Some of these are moving parts, but under normal operating conditions, they won’t make much noise. But, if you’ve noticed that the system is becoming progressively louder over time, this indicates that there is a problem, and it’s getting worse. There are a number of possible causes, such as a failing ignition system or a fan that is out of alignment. So, it’s important to contact a heating and cooling professional to check it out before it causes damage to other components.

3.  Your Energy Costs are Rising

Many people are starting to pay closer attention to their energy bills. This is a good habit to develop because changes from month to month when the energy costs are stagnant is a sure sign that something is wrong. An older furnace will be less efficient than the latest high-efficiency models. In fact, a furnace will lose some efficiency every year after it was installed. The only proven way to slow this process is to invest in regular essential maintenance for your heating system. If you haven’t had your heating serviced in a while, it is possible to carry out deeper maintenance to restore some lost efficiency. This will usually be extensive cleaning to remove carbon deposits and to clean the ductwork. But, if your heating system is over ten years old, it’s often a better idea to replace it entirely. Persevering with a failing heating system can cost a lot of money in the medium to long term.

4.  There is No Heat

This is very different from a lack of heat. If there is no heat at all, it’s time to call your local heating professional. You may notice that the system is blowing air, but it’s not warm, which may indicate that the air filters are dirty. It’s always worth changing the air filter to see if this fixes the problem and check that the thermostat is working.

5.  Unusual Odors

Under normal operating conditions, you shouldn’t be able to detect any unusual odors coming from your heating system. Certain pungent or sharp smells may be related to shorting in the electrical systems. If you can smell a musty odor, this could be caused by moisture that’s pooled somewhere in the system. The underlying cause of a musty smell may be an undetected water leak, and water damage is expensive to fix. If you can detect a strong burning smell when the heating is running, there may be a specific burnt out component to replace. If you smell these odors, turn off the heating and contact your local heating and cooling specialist to check it out for you. These problems only worsen over time, and more extensive problems cost more to fix.

The Importance of Preventative Maintenance

As you can see, there are a lot of ways to detect a problem in your heating system. But, some issues are harder to detect than others, and they can cause a lot of damage. The performance and energy efficiency may suffer, and these problems could even lead to an earlier than expected replacement. An HVAC system is a significant investment, and it makes sense to protect your heating and cooling equipment.

The best way to deal with many HVAC system problems is with preventative maintenance. This is a proactive approach; a technician inspects and cleans the systems before the start of each cooling and heating season. They can improve the performance and energy efficiency of the system to keep it running well without breaking the bank. But there is another advantage, the technician can find any minor issues before they develop into larger problems that are more expensive to repair.

When you consider the advantages of preventative maintenance, it starts to look like a real bargain. After all, you get your car serviced, and your HVAC system works just as hard, if not even harder. An AC system tends to last for around 10 years, and a furnace can last up to 15 years. But, in reality, they both tend to lose around 40-60% of their efficiency when they reach double digits. It’s also worth noting that matching equipment has superior energy efficiency over mismatched systems because they are designed to work together. So, if you have a furnace that’s starting to fail and an air conditioner that has failed, it makes sense to replace them both at the same time. The latest high-efficiency furnaces have up to 97% energy efficiency, and that can reduce your energy bills significantly.

If you’re experiencing problems with your heating system or you’re considering an HVAC upgrade, contact your local heating and cooling specialist today.