Ontario's fire codes and safety regulations require the installation of smoke alarms and carbon monoxide (CO) detectors in all homes, but no regulations state how often a heating system should have professional maintenance. Often heating and cooling systems go unattended because most people do not actually believe a home emergency will ever happen.
These regulations exist, however, because the dangers of living with a furnace or HVAC system that is not properly maintained are very real. Old or unmaintained furnaces are often responsible for house fires. In addition, studies estimate that over 300 individuals each year in Canada perish from carbon monoxide poisoning, with CO-related deaths in Ontario second-highest in the country. Thankfully, it is not necessary to wait for an emergency like carbon monoxide poisoning or a fire to know when your furnace needs emergency repairs because there are a few indicators that can be detected before a disaster occurs.
Recognize When You Need an Emergency Furnace Repair
Every mechanical object will undoubtedly experience problems from time to time. As a homeowner, however, it's important to be able to tell the difference between a minor problem and an emergency.
A musty odour could simply indicate a dirty air filter or air ducts, but the smell of smoke, gas, chemicals, rotten eggs or burning plastic can indicate a serious problem with combustion gases, the heat exchanger or electrical wiring. These types of odours indicate the furnace problems which are often responsible for house fires and carbon monoxide poisoning. The furnace should be shut down and repairs should be ordered as soon as possible.
Low or No Heat Output
If a furnace puts out no heat, the thermostat, pilot light and breakers should be checked. If the furnace puts out minimal heat, it could be due to a minor problem like a clogged air filter. Whether or not this is an emergency depends on the temperature outside and whether or not you have another source of heat in your home. During the winter, a completely broken down heating system or a furnace blowing cold air into your home could necessitate an emergency repair service.
Yellow Pilot Light
A healthy natural gas furnace's pilot light should be blue. If you notice a yellow pilot light, then your furnace could be leaking deadly carbon monoxide gas. Turn off the system right away and contact a repair technician.
Since furnace systems pull air from the outside to heat, some dust accumulation is normal. Excessive dust or quick accumulation, however, can indicate that a furnace is about to go out for good. In the winter months, this could quickly cause an emergency.
Carbon Monoxide Alarm
If a carbon monoxide alarm sounds in your home, this indicates that your heating system has a major problem with heat combustion. The heat exchange might be damaged or the flue could be blocked. Turn off the system and call for an emergency repair.
Tapping noises caused by an old fan belt or clanging from loose ductwork can typically wait until a repair service's normal business hours. Other sounds, however, like the loud banging of improper combustion or a screeching blower motor could be cause for concern. If uncertain what types of noises a furnace is making, a homeowner should always err on the side of caution and call in an emergency repair.
What to Do If Your Heating System Needs Immediate Furnace Maintenance
No matter the time of day or night, if you notice any signs of an emergency situation with your heating system, you should take action right away. Shut down your system completely. Then, move your family and yourself to a safe location outside of your home and contact a repair company to order emergency furnace repairs as soon as possible. Be ready to describe the situation and your furnace's make and model number, if possible.
Avoid the Emergency – Schedule Regular Furnace Maintenance Appointments
When you call Laird & Son Heating & Air-Conditioning for an emergency furnace repair, you can rest easy knowing that help is on the way – day or night. You can, however, avoid these types of emergency situations which put your home and your family at risk by scheduling regular maintenance for your heating system. This type of upkeep ensures your furnace continues running safely and smoothly for the long-run, without any major hiccups along the way.