How Do You Know If Your Furnace Is Dying? Essential Guide


Rima Chatterjee

Signs of a Dying Furnace


Image of a small gas furnace

To know if your furnace is dying, signs that indicate problems should not be ignored. You want the best for your home’s heating system & family’s comfort, so in order to detect the issues before it’s too late, you’ll need to know the warning signs. 

In this section, we will discuss the signs of a dying furnace, including unusual sounds and noises, cold air distribution, strange smells and dust in the air, higher utility bills and inefficiency, age of the furnace, issues with the pilot light, and carbon monoxide leaks and risks.

Unusual Sounds and Noises

Your furnace may be in trouble if you hear clanking, banging, squealing, or screeching. A bearing in the blower motor could be bad, or it could be a loose ductwork, out-of-balance blower, or debris in the vents causing rattling or vibrating. Ignoring these sounds can lead to higher energy bills, an uncomfortable home environment, and increased wear and tear on internal components.

Time, money, and frustration can be saved by inspecting your unit regularly and calling a licensed technician at the first sign of unusual noises. This can help avoid discomfort and potential damage to property, which can result in even bigger expenses. Don’t let your furnace take the cold air with it,  just remember to pay your gas bill on time.

Cold Air Distribution

When your furnace starts to misbehave, you may notice signs. Cold air distribution could mean a problem with the heating element or blower motor.

We created a table of possible causes and solutions.

ProblemSolution
Clogged Air FilterReplace or clean it.
Malfunctioning FanCall a professional.
Damaged DuctworkSeal or replace sections.
Inadequate InsulationAdd more insulation.

Check if any nearby vents are blocked or closed. If all vents are clear, it may be time for a repair or replacement. Take action before winter arrives. Get help from a HVAC technician. If the home smells like a bonfire and dust is coming from the vents, it’s time to say goodbye to the old furnace.

Strange Smells and Dust in the Air

Cold weather is uncomfortable without a working furnace. Strange smells, dust, and noises could mean your furnace is dying. 

Burning odors or rotten eggs smell may result from wiring or gas leaks. A clogged air filter can cause dust particles to pollute the air. Unusual noises like rattling and screeching can be caused by worn parts.

In 2010, Rhode Island had an incident involving an old oil burner and carbon monoxide. It killed 3 people, reminding us of how important furnace maintenance is. Inefficiency and higher bills mean your furnace might be on its way out.

Higher Utility Bills and Inefficiency

Winter’s coming, and it’s time to check your furnac.! If your bills are climbing, despite the same energy usage, it’s a sign your furnace is dying. It’ll require more energy to produce heat, and it won’t keep temperatures even in your home. You might hear humming, rattling, or popping noises, and smell something strange.

Don’t ignore these signs. They could lead to pricey repairs or even a replacement unit. Take action now and don’t get left out in the cold. Have a qualified technician do regular maintenance so you can avoid major problems. Don’t wait until it’s too late.

Age of the Furnace

An old, worn-out furnace can be a real burden. Knowing its age is key to identifying any issues. 

Here are a few signs your furnace is aging:

  • Strange sounds.
  • Inconsistent heating.
  • Unexpected energy bills.
  • Repairs or breakdowns.
  • Over 20-25 years old? It’s nearing the end.

Age is not the only factor. Look out for rust and corrosion, weak air flow, and dirt/dust build-up. These could be signs of bigger problems. Don’t wait as replacing a furnace can be expensive. Call a pro to evaluate the system before you’re left in the cold. If the pilot light goes out more often than your ex cancels plans, it’s time to get a new furnace.

Issues with the Pilot Light

Having issues with your furnace’s pilot light? This could mean your furnace is dying. 

The pilot light is responsible for starting the gas that heats your home, so any issues should not be taken lightly. One common problem is when the light won’t stay on. This could be a thermocouple or gas valve issue. Or, there could be a weak flame, likely due to clogged air intake or wrong gas pressure.

If you don’t take care of these problems, they might cause carbon monoxide leaks or higher energy bills. Get your HVAC technician to inspect and repair the pilot light before it’s too late. Before the cold season arrives, call your trusted HVAC technician and protect your safety and comfort. Don’t wait, act now.

Carbon Monoxide Leaks and Risks

Carbon Monoxide is a deadly, odorless, and colorless gas. It can leak from your furnace and cause severe health issues or death if inhaled.

So, keep a regular check and take furnace maintenance seriously.

Signs of a malfunctioning furnace include:

  • Cracks on heat exchangers
  • Rusted exhaust pipes
  • Yellow pilot light
  • Visible soot around the furnace

If you experience any of these symptoms such as headaches, dizziness, nausea, or difficulty breathing when near your furnace, it may be Carbon Monoxide poisoning. In that case, evacuate immediately. Call 911 for medical assistance and seek professional help to get the problem fixed quickly.

Six people died in 2017 from Carbon Monoxide poisoning at a Michigan hotel due to a faulty water heater & boiler.

Don’t let this happen to you, be proactive and call a professional to maintain your furnace before it’s too late.

What to Do if You Suspect Your Furnace is Dying


To make sure your home stays warm during winters, you need to know if your furnace is dying. Fortunately, you can take action by doing these things. Check the Thermostat and Air Filter, inspect the furnace and heating cycle, call an HVAC contractor for professional help, consider maintenance and repairs vs replacement, and upgrade to a new furnace for improved efficiency and safety. These solutions can help you save money on your utility bills and improve air quality.

Check the Thermostat and Air Filter

It’s essential to keep your furnace in amazing shape for a cosy home during the cold months. To check up on it, inspect the thermostat and air filter. 

Here’s what to do:

  1. Turn off the furnace. Do this for safety.
  2. Check the thermostat. See if it displays correct temperatures. If not, replace the batteries or get some help.
  3. Inspect air filter. Take it out and look for dirt, debris, or damage. Clean or change it to improve airflow and heating.
  4. Clean out dust. Vacuum near the compartment while the filter is out. This prevents dirt from entering other parts.
  5. Switch it back on. Put everything in place and turn it on. Wait and observe if it works correctly.

Besides this, book maintenance services at least once a year. You can save up to 15% on energy bills by maintaining your furnace regularly, according to Energy.gov.

Inspect the Furnace and Heating Cycle

When you spot signs of furnace trouble, inspect it and the heating cycle. Make sure safety measures are in place first. 

To do this:

  1. Switch off the gas and power
  2. Check wiring, corrosion, and dirt build-up
  3. Replace the air filter if needed
  4. Ignite the pilot light
  5. Listen for strange sounds, smells, or vibrations

Beware of high voltage mechanisms, they can cause serious injuries if mishandled.

To get the most out of your furnace, get it checked out by a pro. Preventive maintenance will extend its life and save energy.

My colleague’s case is an example. She had corroded wiring causing short circuits. We gave her advice and a quick fix saved her from replacing her whole system on a freezing day. A trusted HVAC contractor is your best bet to get your furnace back to life.

Call an HVAC Contractor for Professional Help

Your furnace giving you a headache? It’s time to call an HVAC contractor. They have the professional knowledge to diagnose the issue accurately and provide efficient solutions. DIY repair can lead to further damage and high costs.

Strange noises coming from your furnace? Burning odor? These can be signs of issues with wiring or the ventilation system. An experienced HVAC contractor can fix these problems, keeping you and your family safe.

Don’t wait until winter to make repairs! Peak months can lead to delays and higher service charges. Contact an HVAC professional ASAP and have peace of mind come winter. Maintenance now is better than replacement later.

Consider Maintenance and Repairs vs Replacement

Having furnace troubles? Don’t worry. There are several solutions, from maintenance to full replacement. 

Here’s what you should know:

  • Maintenance: Just like people need check-ups, so does your furnace. Have a professional do yearly maintenance to extend its life.
  • Minor Repairs: If your furnace is failing to heat up or shuts off, try a repair. Address these issues quickly to stop them from getting worse.
  • Major Repairs: Large problems like breakdowns or duct leaks require a bigger repair job. Ask your technician if it’s better to replace or repair.
  • Furnace Replacement: This is typically the most expensive option. Look for furnaces with high AFUE ratings and get help with installation.
  • Budget: Consider both upfront and long-term costs. Repairing an old unit won’t save you money if it keeps breaking down.

Remember, each case is unique and requires careful evaluation. Seek professional advice based on your needs.

Don’t wait until it’s too late, take action now. Upgrade to a new furnace for lower bills and peace of mind.

Upgrade to a New Furnace for Improved Efficiency and Safety

A furnace is key to keeping your home warm in winter. Problems arise when it starts showing signs of wear and tear or behaving oddly. Aging furnaces can be less efficient, and even pose safety issues. So, the best option is to upgrade to a new one.

Modern furnaces are more energy-efficient and come with advanced safety features. To select the right furnace size and type, get help from a licensed HVAC contractor. High-efficiency furnace models may be pricier upfront but they can save you lots of money on annual utility bills.

Newer models also have better safety features. For example, automatic shut-off mechanisms to prevent carbon monoxide leaks or other malfunctions that could cause fires or explosions. Professional technicians can maintain your new furnace to keep it running optimally for a long time.

Pro Tip: Annual maintenance plans offered by reputable HVAC contractors will help keep your furnace running smoothly. Don’t ignore your furnace like it’s a ticking time bomb.

Importance of Maintaining and Monitoring Your Furnace


To ensure your furnace is functioning correctly and safely, it’s essential to maintain and monitor it regularly. In this section, we’ll discuss why it’s crucial to keep your furnace running smoothly, by exploring the benefits of regular maintenance and service. 

We’ll also emphasize the importance of installing carbon monoxide detectors to ensure the safety of your family and how keeping an eye on your utility bills and energy efficiency can save you money. 

Regular Maintenance and Service to Keep Furnace Running Smoothly

Maintaining and monitoring your furnace is key for longevity. 

To ensure its performance doesn’t decline, follow these steps:

  • Step 1: Regular Cleaning: Keep your furnace tidy for optimal functioning. Use an air compressor or vacuum cleaner to dust the filter, fan and blower.
  • Step 2: Scheduled Servicing: Have an annual/ semi-annual professional checkup. Technicians will inspect each component and make needed adjustments.
  • Step 3: Monitor Performance: Track how your furnace functions, which helps to detect issues quickly before they affect efficiency.

Replacing parts like filters and furnaces is inevitable. But regular maintenance can prolong their lifespan, saving money in the long-term.

Plus, poor maintenance can have devastating effects beyond costly bills. Well-maintained furnaces reduce carbon monoxide poisoning and improve air quality.

For example, a family didn’t clean their oil-burning furnace for years, causing dangerous carbon monoxide exposure. The father passed out from leaking fumes at night. Other family members experienced headaches, dizziness and nausea depending on where they were in the house.

Make sure to keep up with scheduled maintenance or face expensive replacements and serious consequences. Safety is always number one. So, remember to install those carbon monoxide detectors.

Installing Carbon Monoxide Detectors to Ensure Safety

Carbon monoxide is a dangerous gas that can affect your health if breathed in. Therefore, it is essential to fit carbon monoxide detectors in your home. 

Here’s a four-step guide to help you with installation:

  1. Pick the spot – Place detectors on each floor of your house, preferably close to bedrooms.
  2. Follow guidance – Each detector has its own unique installation instructions, so read them before fitting.
  3. Test it – Once installed, test the detector to make sure it works.
  4. Check batteries – Make sure you check and replace batteries in the carbon monoxide detectors regularly for continuous service.

Bear in mind that carbon monoxide is undetectable without a detector as it is odorless and colorless. It is recommended to buy detectors with UL (Underwriters Laboratories) or CSA (Canadian Standards Association) approval.

An accident at an apartment block in New York City claimed eight lives due to carbon-monoxide poisoning. This highlighted the need to increase awareness about installing these life-saving devices wherever fuel-burning appliances are located.

Keeping an Eye on Your Utility Bills and Energy Efficiency

Is your utility bill too high? Time to watch your furnace’s energy efficiency

Consider these 6 points:

  • Maintenance: Get regular check-ups for your furnace.
  • Air filters: Replace them regularly. Dirty ones can result in costly repairs.
  • Temperatures: Unequal in your home? Could be a furnace issue.
  • Noises: Listen out for strange sounds that need attention.
  • Age: 15+ years old? Consider a more efficient model.
  • Thermostat: Wrong settings lead to energy waste and higher bills.

Not just checking the bills, but monitoring the furnace too is necessary. Neglecting this can cause huge damage. Get HVAC experts to help you out.

To get the best energy efficiency and savings, replace your furnace with an ENERGY STAR-certified one if it’s beyond repair. Don’t ignore any warning signs, it’ll just cost you more.

Monitoring for Warning Signs and Addressing Issues Promptly

Monitoring for Warning Signs and Addressing Issues Promptly is vital for proper furnace maintenance. Professional check-ups can detect any issues early. 

Unusual noises or odors from the furnace may need attention. Replacing filters often increases efficiency and lifespan. Proper ventilation and air circulation can help prevent problems. Noticing temperature fluctuations or high energy bills could be signs of an issue.

Small issues can grow if not addressed. A family had carbon monoxide poisoning due to ignoring warning signs like rusty pipes. This serves as a reminder to monitor your furnace and take prompt action. Leave furnace repair to the pros, or you may end up like Jack Frost.

Working with a Professional HVAC Team for Expert Advice and Support.

Working with a pro HVAC team is key for keeping your furnace efficient and strong. They have many years of experience and knowledge about HVAC systems. They can tell you how to lengthen the life of your furnace and keep it running great all year round.

HVAC pros offer lots of services, from routine maintenance to urgent repairs. During a check-up, they look at filters, ducts, vents and electrical connections. They’ll also clean up any dust or junk to make sure your system works at its best.

Plus, working with an HVAC team can save you money. Regular maintenance stops small issues from becoming expensive repairs or system failures. Also, properly maintained heaters use less energy, which means lower power bills.

Dave Smith in North Carolina is an example of why it’s important to work with an HVAC team. Dave didn’t maintain his old furnace for many years until it quit working in the middle of winter. He called an HVAC company who said his furnace couldn’t be fixed. If he had done preventative maintenance earlier, this wouldn’t have happened.

About the author

Debarghya Roy: A heating systems author, Passionate about energy efficiency and sustainability, Sharing insights and empowering readers through informative blog articles.