What Happens When Your Heater Goes Out?

Winter weather is not much fun for adults. Whether you spend part of your day trudging through slush, slipping on ice or white-knuckling it through traffic to Northern Virginia through freezing rain, coming home is supposed to offer shelter from the storm.

Wait — you can see your breath. There’s no comforting sound of a humming furnace. Maybe you should’ve got that furnace inspection last fall after all! It’s time to find an Arlington furnace repair expert, or the professional heating repair company in your town. Fast.

Or is it?

Sussing out the reason behind a broken heater usually doesn’t require too much detective work. If your home is cold when it should be warm, see if you have any of the following signs before calling for professional heating repair to get your furnace up and running again quickly.

Do I Need Professional Heating Repair?

Use this checklist to identify the most common furnace failure clues:

  • Check your vents for low or no airflow
  • Sniff the vents for a “hot” or burning smell
  • Make sure the furnace pilot light is lit
  • Note any loud noises you’ve heard from your furnace recently
  • Smell near the furnace for a gas leak

Is your heating out? Call John C. Flood for repair!

Low-to-no airflow: Filter issues or blow motor fan failure

If you check the vents and can feel warmth, but hardly any airflow, this may be caused by a dirty or clogged air filter. A clogged furnace filter can cause a furnace to shut off, so furnace manufacturers recommend changing your air filter every three months for optimal performance. This problem can also be identified early when you have a regularly scheduled furnace inspection. 

Avoid surprises: Learn more about John C. Flood’s maintenance plans

If a new filter doesn’t improve airflow from your vents, you may be looking at a failed blower fan motor. A failed motor can be caused by a number of issues and it is worth calling a professional to diagnose and perform the repair for you.

Burning smell from vent: Furnace overheating

Has your furnace has been cycling on and off frequently, (just a few minutes between cycles)? This is a big sign that your furnace is overheating. To prevent any restriction of airflow, the air filter should be replaced quarterly.

In some cases, the filter has become so dirty it effectively clogs the furnace airways. Repeated overheating will eventually burn out your heat exchanger and you’ll need to replace the whole furnace.

Other signs of an overheated furnace include loud noises coming from the heater or a smell of burning. Having an annual furnace inspection done will generally prevent overheating issues because the problems are caught early. This will save you the trouble of tracking down Arlington furnace repair pros when your NoVA home is suddenly without heat.

Read more: How much does a furnace inspection cost?

Pilot light is out: Multiple causes

A simple gust of air is enough to blow out a furnace pilot light, so discovering that yours has gone out doesn’t necessarily mean anything is wrong. Homes with a furnace located in the garage are more at risk for the pilot light going out.

Relighting the pilot is relatively easy if you are comfortable doing it. Your furnace manufacturer should have printed instructions on the actual unit for you to follow.

If this is a consistent issue with your furnace, you may have a bad thermocouple. This safety mechanism shuts off the gas if the pilot light goes out.

If the thermocouple fails, you risk having a catastrophic amount of natural gas buildup in your home. Call an Arlington furnace repair expert immediately if you suspect thermocouple failure.

Read more: Thermostat not working? How to tell if your thermostat is broken

Noises from furnace: Loose or disconnected part

Bang! Scrape! Thud! These sounds are very clear signs that you have a broken heater. Call a trusted repair company and schedule service ASAP.

While the furnace may still produce heat, you will need immediate repair to prevent damage to the heater. A trained technician can recognize these sounds and locate them to make the fix for you.

Noises like these don’t go away on their own, so it’s better to catch them early. If you can hear it early on, you’ll find that something just needs to be tightened or screwed back on.

Technicians check for loose parts as part of an annual inspection or tuneup, helping prevent unexpected repairs mid-winter.

Gas leak: Call a professional ASAP

Text If you smell natural gas (a rotten egg-like smell) when you approach your furnace, you have a gas leak. Turn your furnace off immediately and ventilate the area, then open up the furnace, locate and shut off the gas valve.

A gas leak will need to be fixed by a professional repair company, so schedule service ASAP to minimize your time without heat, for both your comfort and to prevent your pipes from freezing.

Read more: Your HVAC system — Understanding the basics

Your Arlington furnace repair experts are here for you.

While regular maintenance and quarterly air filter changes go a long way in keeping your furnace happy and healthy, your heater bears a heavy and constant workload most winters. Heavy demand is going to show the age and wear and tear your furnace has sustained over the years, and unfortunately, even the best-cared-for heaters sometimes fail.

Don’t suffer in the cold! Our professional technicians perform quality repairs and our call center is open 24/7 in case of emergencies. If you have a broken heater, call (703) 214-5611 or  contact John C. Flood for service today.

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