5 Clues That Your Heating System Needs Maintenance

You rely heavily on your heating system to keep your home comfortable throughout the winter. Regularly scheduled maintenance plays a crucial role in keeping your heating system in great shape. Without it, staving off bone-chilling temperatures becomes increasingly harder.

Heating system failures don't just bring discomfort but can also prove time-consuming and expensive to fix. Fortunately, most heating systems will provide several hard-to-miss clues that professional repairs are necessary. If you want to avoid the hassle of an unplanned heating system replacement this winter, then know how to identify these clues before your heating system breaks down.


  1. Reduced Performance

Have you noticed a drastic change in your heating system’s performance? Perhaps your furnace doesn't blow air as strongly as it used to. Weakened airflow is a common sign that something's amiss with your furnace. Although most airflow problems are easily fixable with a simple filter change or duct cleaning, serious issues such as a failing blower fan motor or damaged ductwork can also cause poor airflow.

You might also notice that your furnace produces little to no heat, no matter how high you crank up the thermostat. In most cases, you can trace the problem back to a faulty thermostat or damaged ductwork that allows warm air to escape elsewhere. Dirty or failing furnace burners and heating elements can also lead to inadequate heat.


  1. Increased Noise

The vast majority of heating systems are not completely silent, but they are designed to operate as quietly as possible. So when you start hearing noises that are out of the ordinary for your furnace or boiler, this may be a clue that repairs are in order.

These strange noises run the gamut from popping and clanging noises to high-pitched squeals, scraping sounds, and low-pitched moans. You can silence some noises simply through a few careful adjustments, such as tightening loose screws or replacing loose panels. Other noises may indicate more serious problems on the horizon.

A trained ear is key to accurately assess what your heating system needs. Whenever you hear strange noises, get in touch with your HVAC technician as soon as possible.


  1. Rising Heating Bills

A sizable chunk of your home's energy usage — approximately 48 percent — goes toward keeping your home comfortable year-round. A faulty heating system can quickly cause your home's heating costs to spiral out of control.

Any number of furnace or boiler problems can lead to increased energy consumption, which in turn leads to higher heating bills. Aging heating system components can also increase their energy consumption as ordinary wear and tear increases. If you see a steep increase in your energy bills that doesn't correspond to increased heating system usage, then your heating system likely needs repairs.


  1. Constant Short Cycling

The average heating system works in cycles. During a typical cycle, the heating system turns on and continues heating its designated space until temperatures reach the desired thermostat set point. Upon reaching the set point, the heating system shuts down until temperatures drop far enough to trigger the unit back into action.

A heating system's average run time depends on a wide variety of variables. However, most heating systems can achieve desired temperatures within 5 to 15 minutes of cycling on. Short cycling happens when the heating system cycles on and off repeatedly within an exceptionally short amount of time.

Short cycling can happen for any number of reasons. The most common reason is a dirty air filter that blocks airflow and causes the furnace to shut down prematurely due to overheating. Other culprits include failing fan limit switches, damaged thermostats, and heating systems that are simply too large or too small for the homes they're installed in.


  1. Noticeable Leaks

Noticeable leaks are another surefire sign that your heating system needs maintenance. As mentioned earlier, air leaks that damaged or disconnected ductwork cause can, in turn, cause performance issues for your heating system.

Gas leaks are particularly serious due to the dangers they represent to your household and others nearby. If you notice a strong odor that resembles rotten eggs or hear hissing from your furnace, leave your home and contact your HVAC technician as well as your local gas company immediately.

Carbon monoxide leaks should also be a cause for concern, as the odorless and colorless gas can cause severe health problems with continued exposure.

Heating systems can also leak water, especially if you rely on a boiler or condensing furnace for heat. Condensation leaks from a condensing furnace and water leaks from a boiler both signify a need for immediate maintenance.

When was the last time you serviced your heating system? If a year has passed since a trained HVAC professional checked on your furnace or boiler, then contact the experts at Ragan Mechanical. We specialize in helping homeowners throughout the Quad Cities region with their heating needs.

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