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5 Strange Furnace Behaviors

Many homeowners don’t think of calling the HVAC company until they are left without heat. However, if you pay close attention to the way your furnace is acting, you can often pick up on strange behaviors that indicate an impending furnace failure before you are left shivering away in a cold house. Here’s a look at five strange furnace behaviors and what they might mean.

Making Grinding, Scraping Noises

The only heating noise you don’t need to worry about is pinging and mild clanging when the heat first kicks on. Usually, these noises are the metal ducts expanding and contracting. The more time there is between heating cycles, the more pronounced these noises will be.

When you should be alarmed is if your furnace starts making scraping or grinding sounds. Scraping might indicate that something is loose in the motor that propels your central air fan. Grinding may indicate a loose or missing ball bearing, which could lead to motor failure and a total loss of heat.

Tripping the Breaker

If your furnace trips the breaker once, just flip the breaker back in place. A surge or other one-time concurrence may have caused the breaker to trip. If the furnace keeps tripping the breaker, this repeated problem is cause for concern. The furnace could have a loose electrical connection within the furnace. This is easy for your HVAC contractor to fix but could present a fire hazard if left unaddressed.

Giving Off an Odd Chemical Odor

There are many possible explanations for a chemical odor in the home. Maybe a cleaning solution spilled in the basement, or perhaps your neighbor spilled something on the lawn. If you cannot find the source of the chemical odor, the smell might be coming from your vents — which is not a good sign.

A chemical odor resembling that of preservatives might indicate your furnace heat exchanger has a crack. Carbon monoxide, a poisonous gas, can leak through that crack. Until you have your HVAC technician out to service your furnace, be vigilant about checking your carbon monoxide detector’s batteries. If the detector starts beeping, leave the house until the system has been inspected and repaired.

Giving Off the Odor of Rotten Eggs

The smell of rotten eggs coming from your heating vents is a sign of a gas leak. Breathing in natural gas is not at all healthy, and the gas that has accumulated in the home may explode or start a fire. If you notice this odor, make two phone calls: one to your fire department and one to your HVAC company.

The fire department can come turn the gas off and make sure the space is safe for your heating contractor to enter.

Turning on and off In Short Succession

Under normal circumstances, your furnace should only turn on and off a couple of times in an hour. When a furnace is repeatedly blowing air for a minute or two, turning off, and then blowing air for a short time again, this is known as short-cycling. Short-cycling can indicate a number of different furnace problems, including:

  • Faulty thermostat connection
  • Furnace that is too large for your home
  • Faulty electrical components within the furnace
  • Problems with the pressure switch in the fan motor

Some homeowners allow their furnaces to keep operating in a short-cycling pattern for a long time because the home still gets warm. However, this puts a lot of strain on the furnace and can cause more serious breakdowns in the future.

If your furnace is displaying any of these five strange behaviors, contact Reid’s AC & Heat. We offer service to the entire North Houston area and are happy to handle all of your HVAC needs.

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