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Furnace Troubleshooting: 8 Signs Your Furnace Needs Maintenance

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Last Updated on June 25, 2015


As a business owner, this time of year you’re probably running around like Santa Claus on Christmas Eve trying to get everything done. The last thing you want to worry about is the condition of your heating system. But in those rare moments when you sit still for a moment, you may be experiencing nagging doubts that your old furnace is going to make it through the winter without an expensive and inconvenient breakdown.

Take a glance through the list below. Have you noticed any of these symptoms? If you have, you’re probably worried that your furnace or boiler is about to go down for the count. Taking the “wait and see” approach makes it likely that you won’t like what you see (especially on your invoice) when that breakdown happens.

This furnace troubleshooting guide is designed to help you identify signs that your furnace needs maintenance or repair. In most cases, these turn out to be minor issues when caught early, and with a few furnace maintenance tips you can avoid the expensive repairs that occur if you ignore furnace problems.

1. Switching on and off too often

Short cycling can be caused by something as small as a thermostat that’s out of calibration or set incorrectly. Or you might have dirty filters that need replacing. But all that wear and tear can cause parts to fail if it goes on for a long time.

2. Noisy operation

There’s a host of problems that can cause your furnace and ventilation system to make a lot of noise, including clogged furnace air filters, compromised ducts, and loose belts. Luckily, many of them are minor, but some can be serious if not taken care of in short order. If you hear a loud bang that sounds like a small explosion every time your furnace starts, stop what you’re doing right now and make that call to an HVAC expert. You could have an ignition issue and even a gas leak.

Related Article: Things That Go Bump in the Night: Is Your Furnace Making Noises?

3. Energy bills going up

If your furnace’s fuel efficiency has been taking a nose dive, it needs a good cleaning in the best case, and in the worst case it’s nearing the end of its life. If you ignore this issue, that end of life will come sooner rather than later. If you do need a new furnace, new models are so much more efficient that they can pay for themselves much faster than you may expect.

4. Temperature inconsistencies

Are your building occupants complaining about hot and cold areas in the building? Temperature variance is often easily fixed with changes to the ventilation system. You might also have a faulty thermostat. This is a problem that will cause mutiny from your building occupants, not to mention lost customers, if you don’t get it fixed.

Related Article: Are Temperature Extremes Causing A Hostile Work Environment?

5. The thermostat doesn’t respond

If you’re building is always cold, and turning up the thermostat doesn’t help, you may have leaky ducts that are losing all the warm air produced by the furnace. Or, there could be an ignition issue that’s causing the furnace not to turn on at the proper time. Again, you don’t want to risk the loss of business due to uncomfortable conditions in your building. Or having building occupants take matters into their own hands and use space heaters that can cause a fire.

6. Excess dust in the building

If you’ve been accusing your building maintenance staff of skimping on the dusting lately, the problem may not be their fault. If your HVAC equipment is dirty and especially if the filters have not been changed in a while, your system may be unable to remove debris and dust from the air and instead spreading it through the ducts and all over your building. Eventually, the grimy buildup will cause it to fail and lead to furnace problems.

7. Furnace flames are yellow or orange

If you are suspicious about your furnace’s condition, take a look at the flames. Your gas furnace’s flame should be blue. Yellow or orange means the mix of gas and oxygen is incorrect, which is usually a sign of a dirty burner. It’s an easy fix if you get it cleaned right away. If the problem persists, you could end up with a carbon monoxide leak, which can be deadly.

8. You don’t remember when you last had it cleaned

Your furnace needs a good cleaning and inspection by an HVAC professional at least once per year to keep it in good operating condition. Ideally, you should do it before starting up the system in the fall. If you’ve been neglecting to do that, make the call now!

Even though you’re busy, being proactive is the way to go. And it only takes a phone call to get to the bottom of your HVAC problems now. This way, you’ll prevent business interruptions at the worst possible time if you’re without heat. You can also prevent what may be a small issue now from turning into a big, expensive ordeal later on.

You may not even realize how much you’re costing your business by failing to keep your HVAC systems maintained. Find out by a grabbing a copy of our helpful guide to Calculating the Hidden Costs of Poor HVAC Maintenance.

Get the guide to understanding your HVAC System's hidden costs.