The sound of the fan whirring from your vents can be almost as comforting as the heat coming out of them. It’s good to know there’s a device in your home to keep you and yours healthy and comfortable during the coldest months, and that sound is your indication that everything is (probably) running smoothly. In time, though, your heater may start to play a different tune.
What if the noise from the heater is not what you expect to hear? It deserves some investigation. Even if the heat still seems to be working, even if you don’t feel particularly annoyed by the sound, it could be an indication of trouble looming. Here’s what those noises could mean.
Sounds we’ve heard from heaters
You know the normal noises your furnace makes as it functions from day to day. Anything else, like the noises listed above, means trouble. There may be a simple solution (at least from a technician’s point of view), or you might need to have some components or the entire furnace replaced.
Still, it’s better to find out now than to wait for the furnace to breakdown. Or worse, you might face a safety issue within the furnace. Here are some noises we’ve heard on the job and what these might mean.
- Squealing: This may just indicate a lack of lubricant, or the fan belt might be loose. While these may be relatively simple to fix, the squealing may also mean that the fan belt is wearing down and needs replacement.
- Scraping: If this sounds like metal grinding against metal, it probably is. In some cases, you might just need some lubrication for the motor. However, it’s also likely the motor mounting has come loose from the casing
- Thumping: If you hear a thump, thump, thump as the fan of your furnace blows, it might have to do with the blower motor being off balance. You might also describe this as a clacking noise.
- A Low Rumble: This may indicate a dangerous issue within the burners.
- Banging: There are two common reasons for this. First, ducts can expand and contract as a furnace runs with inadequate airflow, often caused by closed vents or an undersized or oversized furnace. Another cause could be dirty burners, which allow gas to build up before igniting, causing a mini explosion when it finally does!
“But won’t it cost a lot to fix?”
So you’ve identified the noise coming from your heater, but you’ve decided you would like to wait before scheduling repairs. It might cost a lot to fix, and you’d rather wait it out and see if it really causes any problems for you in the long run.
We think this is a mistake. A small noise can turn into a big problem—fast. A squealing sound may only indicate a loose fan belt. But wait for that belt to come off or wear down and you’ll be left without a working fan, and a broken down system when you really need it! Last minute heating repair tends to be costlier, so it’s better to schedule those repairs now.
Besides, some issues, like a banging noise caused by dirty furnace burners, can create a safety hazard. This can wear down the heat exchanger, causing it to crack, which could allow dangerous carbon monoxide to leak into your home.