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Furnace Sounds That Indicate Trouble With the Heating System

The fall and winter months can be a glorious time of beautiful changing leaves, cool and crisp air, winter sports, and some much-needed time with family and friends. One thing that can spoil it all, however, is if your heating system fails you during these colder seasons. Every homeowner wants to stay comfortable throughout the year, and one of the most important ways to ensure this is to have a technician perform regular maintenance on your HVAC system.

Preventative maintenance is important to prevent minor problems from becoming major ones; it can improve your home air quality and safety, and it may even be necessary to keep your warranty on your heating system. Of course, there are some times when keeping up with this maintenance won’t be enough, and your system will begin to suffer anyway. Naturally, you’ll want to mitigate damage and keep the costs of repair services as low as possible, and to do that, you’ll need to be able to recognize warning signs. Here are some of the most common furnace sounds that indicate trouble with the heating system.

Loud bangs are priority number one.


It is normal for your furnace to make a low level of noise when it turns on, but if you’re hearing a loud bang, booming, or other such strange noises when it comes on, that’s an indicator that you need to look into furnace repair as soon as possible. There are several things that these loud noises can mean, and none of them are good.

If it sounds like someone set off a firecracker when your furnace ignites, this could indicate fuel buildup. This is most frequently caused by a faulty burner that’s having difficulty reaching a high enough temperature to ignite the fuel in your heating system. When the fuel finally does ignite, the excessive amount that has built up causes an extremely loud noise when it’s finally ignited. This can damage your fuel exchanger, and even more importantly, it’s one of the common fire hazards that can lead to damage in your home. There’s also the possibility that a weak pilot light may be causing a blockage or low fuel pressure that results in a loud noise.

Squeals need to be repaired soon.


While generally not as dangerous as loud bangs, squealing sounds coming from your heater are extremely alarming and annoying, and they’re unlikely to stop on their own once they start. A worn belt on the motor is one of the most common culprits for this noise, and you’ll want to inspect it for cracks, frayed edges, and other signs of damage. If the belt tension has loosened, it will need to be tightened by a professional. These noises may also indicate loose or damaged bearings, which should also be replaced or lubricated by a qualified technician.

Rattles and rumbles may be signs of loose debris.


While not as frightening as the other noises on this list, hearing a low rumbling when your furnace turns on can still indicate a serious problem, such as faulty ductwork, loose debris, and contaminants, or even a faulty fan blade. In some cases, these sounds may even indicate a damaged heat exchanger, which can lead to a carbon monoxide leak, so it’s imperative to have these strange sounds investigated as soon as possible.

Particularly if you have a centralized system, you’ll want to keep dirt and debris to a minimum. Your ducts can spread contaminants throughout your home when they’re dirty, and this lowers your indoor air quality. You may generally think of pollutants as being associated with outdoor air, but it’s so easy to track them into your home that indoor air can be even more contaminated than the air outside. For both your safety and comfort, it’s crucial to have furnace repairs completed as soon as possible if you’re hearing any unusual sounds.

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