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Aug 3, 2021 2:49:49 PM by Lauren Mangano

4 Warning Signs Your Heater Might Fail (& What to Check)

In this article, we’re looking at four signs your heater may be on its way to a breakdown and some ways to troubleshoot them yourself. We'll also let you know when it’s time to call in a professional. 

signs your heater may be broken

Whether it's a harsh winter in the Delaware Valley or we get through with relatively mild conditions, you’ll quickly realize how far from spring we are if your heater suddenly stops working. With the wild weather events we've had this past year or two, and especially these last few weeks, who knows what winter will bring us. Fortunately, you can prevent a breakdown or heater issue from happening by knowing the warning signs. 
Yes, it's only August -- but going into the fall and winter (which will be here before you know it!) with this knowledge is very helpful. Your heater is most likely to fail when it’s working its hardest. That’s during the winter — even if it’s not always freezing cold. So, you can save yourself a lot of money (and headaches) if you have your trusted HVAC company check out a small problem before it gets a lot worse. 

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Four Heater Warning Signs

  1. Your House Isn’t Warm Enough
  2. Your Bills Are Suddenly Increasing
  3. The Heater Makes Odd Noises
  4. Your Vents Blow Cold Air
Meanwhile, if you have any questions about the heating (or cooling) for your home in Fairmount, Mt. Airy, Langhorne, Doylestown, or anywhere in the Delaware Valley, give us a call today.
With decades of experience and plenty of five-star reviews, we’re ready to keep you warm all winter. 

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Now, let’s look at these signs a little closer. 

1. Your house isn’t warm enough

heater isn't blowing warm enough air

This point seems obvious; but oftentimes the heater produces less heat over time, so you don’t always realize right away that your home isn’t warm enough. There’s also the question of why exactly you’re not getting enough warmth. For instance, is the airflow weak? Does the heater turn on and off a lot? These are signs of different problems. 
weak airflow
Let’s say you notice the heater turning on, but you don’t feel the air coming through with as much pressure as it used to. In this case, you want to focus on airflow. 
The first question to ask yourself is if you've changed your air filter recently. Filters only last about three months and should be changed even more often if you have pets. After three months or so, they get clogged and don’t allow enough air to pass through. Washing and replacing air filters is part of annual heater tune-ups -- a critical step in keeping your system functioning.
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dirty air filter in heater

blocked vents
Next, check if you're blocking vents anywhere in the house. If so, you’re messing with how the system draws in air from each room and then pushes it back out.  A good rule of thumb is to make sure there’s nothing within 12 inches of each vent. If you’re still getting weak airflow after these two steps, it’s time to call in a professional. 

2. Your bills are suddenly increasing

Energy bill increase from  heater issue

If your energy bill is suddenly a lot more than it was last month, or more than it was at the same time last year, a broken heater may be to blame. If there’s a problem somewhere in the heater, the system may be working extra hard to do the job, which takes more gas, electricity or oil. 
Luckily, keeping track of your energy costs is easier than ever with online payments. And if you have a smart thermostat, the app for it pulls up that information as well. Take a look to see if it seems like you’ve been paying more. If there's an internal issue, it's bound to get worse; so diagnosing and fixing it as soon as possible is important.
Over time, parts degrade from normal wear-and-tear and eventually something will break down. You can’t see it happening, but you can spot the signs — like the system using a lot more energy than before. Of course, the problem may be simple like a clogged air filter forcing the system to do more work than it should. But if you've determined it's not the filter and suspect another issue, it's time to schedule a tune-up or service call.

3. The heater makes odd noises

Another sign that seems obvious but people often overlook is an odd noise such as a bang, knocking sound, or screeching sound. Unfortunately, there’s really not much you can do about this yourself; these are all indications that you should call out a professional.
There are a variety of sounds that can mean different things. Try to figure out what the type of sound is as best as you can and communicate that to your HVAC company. They will be able to inspect the system and make the necessary repairs or replacements.

4. Your vents blow cold air

Why is my heater blowing cold air?

Vents blowing cold air in the winter can be a sign of quite a few problems. A few are small enough for anyone to handle, but some situations can be more serious.
The underlying cause of your vents blowing cold air is that the system is overheating. Sounds counterintuitive, right? After all, the system does create heat for your entire home -- but it's not supposed to store that heat. But if there’s a backup somewhere in the system, that’s exactly what it’s doing. 
When the inner components get too hot, the heater blows cold air to cool it down, causing the cool air to come through the vents. This is an emergency measure, though, meaning it's not meant to do that all the time. If the components are constantly getting too hot and being cooled down, they will get even more worn out and cause further issues. Eventually they’ll break, with the biggest offender being the heat exchanger. When you have a cracked heat exchanger on your hands, you run the risk of a carbon monoxide leak. 
READ: Replacing a Furnace With a Cracked Heat Exchanger
The point to take away from this is: if you notice your heater blowing cold air, call a professional to take a look. While you’re waiting, however, try changing the air filter and checking if the vents are blocked. If air is backing up because of those problems it can cause overheating.
Either way, you want someone to check out the system for any other problems or damage caused by the sudden bursts of cold air. 

Furnace Inspection and Service 

Whether you just need an annual tune-up, your heater is having issues and needs to be serviced, or you want to upgrade/replace your heating system, ECI Comfort can help.
We’ve provided excellent service for thirty years, and we’re ready to do the same for you. You can visit our website to see our great reviews and jobs in your area. Then, call us or click below to set an appointment before your small heating problem becomes a much bigger one. 


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If you live in the Delaware Valley/Greater Philadelphia area and would like to find comfort within your home, visit our website or give us a call at 215 - 245 - 3200 to learn more.

This entry was posted in Heat Exchange, Heating, Tune ups, Learning

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