Fact: It’s been over a hundred years since San Francisco saw its most significant snowfall. On February 5, 1887, a record-breaking snowstorm fell and placed the city under four inches of snow.
While no other event broke that record, the Bay Area still gets near-freezing winters. And with such cold temperatures comes the risk of cold weather-related illnesses.
That should prompt you to get heating repair services if your heater is on the fritz.
So, how do you tell it’s time to call the pros? Isn’t there anything you should try first?
We’ve listed the signs your heater needs repairs and what you can do before calling the experts, so read on.
1. Doesn’t Produce Warm Air at All
If you don’t feel any warm air coming out of your air ducts or indoor air handler, you might only have a thermostat issue. Thus, this is the first thing to check; ensure it’s on heat mode and set to your desired temperature.
If your thermostat is all good, the next thing to check is the furnace disconnect switch. It resembles a regular light switch, so people can sometimes mistake it for one and flick it off by accident. In that case, all you need to do is turn it back on (it should be near the unit) so it can start sending power back to your heater.
If it’s not the disconnect switch, and you have a gas furnace, ensure its gas line shutoff valve is open. You can find this near the bottom of the unit.
If none of the above helps, it’s time to schedule heating repair services. The problem may be a clogged burner, a faulty pilot light, or failed high limit switch. Either way, it’s best to leave these in the hands of a heater repair expert.
2. Inadequate Heating
The US Department of Energy recommends setting a thermostat to 68° F in the daytime during winter. The agency also advises turning it back by 7° to 10° F from its typical setting for eight hours a day. Such methods can help cut your energy bills.
Those are some of the best ways to lower your HVAC costs, but they can be tedious work if you have an analog thermostat. Because you have to do things manually, you might forget to turn the setting back up.
When temps in the Bay Area drop at night, that can result in your heater failing to deliver adequate heat. Therefore, if your home feels a little too chilly, check your thermostat and bump its setting up.
If that doesn’t help, the thermostat might need new batteries or have already failed. If it’s the latter, it’s best to call an HVAC repair company ASAP to inspect, fix, or upgrade your thermostat.
3. Weak Airflow
Outdoor dust accounts for up to two-thirds of the dust you find indoors. Pet dander, carpet particles, and clothes fibers are other things that make up indoor dust.
Some of those air pollutants end up trapped in your air filter. After all, the primary job of the HVAC filter is to help keep your comfort systems clean. Thus, it can get clogged with debris and filth unless you wash or replace it once a month.
Severe clogging in an air filter can obstruct the air flowing in and out of your system. Hence, it can result in weak airflow, compromising your comfort or health. So, if you feel too little warm air out of your heater, check the filter and wash or replace it if it’s filthy.
However, if that doesn’t fix the problem, you might have leaky or clogged air ducts. Other possible causes include a malfunctioning or worn blower or blower motor. Your best bet is to call an HVAC repair company to examine and repair these components.
4. Loud and Odd Noises
Reverberating sounds from a gas furnace can result from burners clogged with soot. Those noises indicate that the burners don’t fire up when they should, so gas builds up. Then, when the burners kick in, excessive gas combusts, resulting in a booming sound.
Your heating system can also produce banging, rattling, or scraping noises. They can arise from unfastened components or a lack of lubrication. Your blower fan might have even come loose.
Regardless of the odd noises your heater makes, they’re likely a sign of a problem. Call a qualified professional to inspect and perform necessary repairs ASAP.
5. Short Cycling
Short cycling is when your heater (or air conditioner) turns on and off intermittently.
In a heating system, short cycling can occur if the heat exchanger overheats, forcing it to shut down. It then goes back on once the exchanger cools down again.
Short cycling can result from a malfunctioning thermostat or a clogged filter. So, check those two components first; if they’re both okay, you might have a faulty heater. It’s best to call a professional HVAC technician, as short cycles can waste energy.
6. Burning Odors That Don’t Dissipate
Burning odors are common in places that don’t always use the heater, such as in Bay Area homes. Dust collects in furnace components during those months that the unit remains untouched.
So, if you smell a burning odor when you first turn your system on, it’s likely due to dust build-up.
Those smells should disappear after about 10 minutes once the furnace burns all the dust off. If they don’t, or they get stronger, turn off your heater immediately. The odors can be coming from damaged electrical components, such as melting wires.
Then, call an HVAC repair professional for assistance as soon as possible.
7. Rotten Egg Smells
Never ignore rotten egg-like odors coming from your furnace. Turn off your heating system and gas valve as soon as you get a whiff of this, as it can indicate a natural gas leak. Even at low concentrations, exposure to the gas can cause adverse health effects.
A cracked heat exchanger can also release sulfur dioxide, a combustion byproduct. Exposure to it can cause eye and nose irritation and disorientation.
Moreover, a cracked heat exchanger can also leak carbon monoxide (CO), a toxic gas. CO is hazardous and deadly because it causes asphyxiation. Indeed, it lands approximately 50,000 people in US emergency departments each year.
As soon as you’ve turned your heater off, open a few windows and then leave your house right after. Call a heater repair company once you’re outside.
Stay Safe With Prompt Heating Repair
There you have it, the top signs you need heating repair and what to try first before calling the pros.
If the tips we shared don’t help, don’t delay contacting an HVAC repair company. After all, you don’t want to fall ill due to frigid temps, and besides, a cold home can be very uncomfortable.