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Using Your Senses to Keep Tabs on Your Furnace

A woman adjusting the thermostat in a home with her smart phone.

Temperatures are dropping, and you’re probably using your furnace more than ever to keep your home comfortable, safe and warm. If your furnace were to suddenly stop working, it could be both inconvenient and dangerous. Even with modern technology, there aren’t any bells or sirens to tell us when they need to be replaced. Until then, it’s important that you know what to look for – or how your furnace may be telling you it’s in trouble. Here are a few ways you can use your senses to keep tabs on your furnace:

Listen

If your furnace is old, it probably makes a few noises from time to time. No old system is completely silent, but you should take note when it starts to make new sounds. Any loud moans, bangs, or whistles are a sign that something isn’t right. It’s likely that an inner part has become loose or detached, and more than likely needs to be repaired. If you’ve already spent a considerable amount of money on repairs in the past, you should seriously consider replacement in the near future. Costly repairs to an old machine can be a waste when it’s reaching the end of its lifespan.

Look

It’s important that you keep a watchful eye on the pilot light. The light always needs to be blue. A blue flame is a visual confirmation that the gases working inside of your furnace are perfectly balanced, and that your home is safe. If the flame of your pilot light ever turns yellow, the balance has shifted, and dangerous carbon monoxide is leaking into your home. Exposure can lead to serious injury or death. Any change in color should be treated as an emergency.

Smell

The first time you turn your furnace on for the season, it’s normal to be able to smell a faint hint of gas or oil. This is simply your furnace warming up for the first time in a while. If after several consecutive uses you can still smell it, you should call a professional immediately. This means that something isn’t working right in your furnace and that gas or oil may be leaking. Leaks can be a major fire hazard, so it’s best to figure out the problem right away before it becomes a dangerous situation.

Feel

Reach out and touch that electricity bill! When your furnace is working overtime, it needs to be working efficiently. If it’s old or damaged, it’s highly likely that it isn’t. Because it requires more electricity to function, your wallet may take a hit. Wasted energy will cause your electric bill to increase. A newer furnace will be more efficient – it’s an investment that will pay for itself. You will notice the difference almost immediately and your wallet will thank you!

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