7 Signs Your Heater is Not Working Properly

Did you know the leading factor contributing to home heating fires was a failure to clean heating equipment, namely chimneys, according to the National Fire Protection Association?

Heating equipment was involved in approximately 56,000 American home structure fires, nearly 500 civilian fatalities, almost 1,500 civilian injuries and $1 billion in property damage between 2009 and 2013.

This is all the more reason to stay informed and mindful of subtle changes in your heating source that might suggest your heater is failing.

Let’s take a look at 7 signs that your heater is not working properly.

1. Your Monthly Electricity Bill is Steadily Rising

There are other variables that play into the amount of your utility bill, including the price of fuel and the normal fluctuation of some heating fluids. You’d want to rule out these causes first, as the cost of oil, gas, and propane can vary from month to month or even day to day.

One reason why your bill may be higher is that your heater has lost its efficiency in heating your home properly. If you notice a rise in your electricity bill, you could be in the market for a heating unit or furnace repairs.

2. Creepy Sounds or Odors Are Emanating From Your Heating Unit

A second sign that your heater is not working is irritating, bizarre noises coming from your unit. Some of the most concerning noises include:

  • Rattling
  • Hissing
  • Clunking
  • Squeaking
  • Popping
  • The continuous running of your heater’s fan

While these are worrisome sounds, when they’re coupled with odd odors, the prognosis could be worse still. Some common smells to take note of include:

  1. Chemical-like: can indicate carbon monoxide is leaking into your home
  2. Metallic: may lead to an electrical fire
  3. Sulphur: if more than just a passing scent, it can suggest a gas leak
  4. Smoky: if faint, ventilate your home and schedule a professional inspection. If strong, turn off the furnace and get out of the house

If you can smell gas when you turn on your heating unit, get out of the house ASAP and call the fire department.

3. Your Heater is Over Ten Years Old

The average lifespan of a heating element that’s been professionally installed and regularly serviced is about 14 years.

The efficiency of your heater will diminish over time, and you might need replacement parts or repairs. If your unit was installed more than ten years ago, you’ll want to have it checked.

If you’re heating unit goes out, you might consider using an electric space heater temporarily to heat small spaces. But remember that this is only a short-term solution, as it does cost more in the long run.

4. Your Heating Unit is Struggling to Come on or to Stay on

Another sign that your heater is not working is that it seems to be struggling to turn on or remain on.

If your heater lags when you try to turn it on, you’ll want to get it checked. This could be due to the need for re-wiring of old or worn out wires.

If you notice your heating unit stalls at various times throughout the day, you’ll also want to get it looked at. Ignoring these symptoms could lead to much more costly repairs or, worst-case scenario, a fire.

5. You Notice Patches of Cold Air

If you notice areas in your home that just don’t seem to be staying warm or your heater begins blowing out cold air, this could be a sign your heater is not working.

If you see ice forming on the roof, this is also an indication that your heater may be faulty. Whether you have gas heating or electric, you’ll want to get your heating unit checked.

6. Your Family Members Are Experiencing Flu-ish Symptoms

Another sign that your heater is not working is if your family members are getting sick frequently. Take special note if your family is experiencing:

  • Regular headaches
  • Nausea
  • Dizziness or light-headedness
  • Achiness
  • Disorientation

These symptoms can be a warning sign for carbon monoxide leaking from your heating unit if you have gas heating. Be sure to invest in a carbon monoxide detector and don’t ignore sudden changes in the physical health of your family members.

If you suspect carbon monoxide as the culprit, ventilate your home by opening the windows. Take any pets and your family out of the house immediately, and get your heating unit assessed.

7. You’ve Had Several Heating Repair Jobs Done

If you’ve already had some heating repair jobs completed on your heating unit, you probably already know that it might be on its way out.

Sometimes it’s necessary to just bite the bullet and purchase a new unit. Frequent repairs can become very costly, and you could be using that money towards a newer, more efficient unit.

If your heater stops working suddenly, there are ways to heat your home, such as opening the windows during the day, covering them at night and covering all draft areas to retain heat.

Fireplaces Actually Make it Colder

One thing to note is that, while a fire in your fireplace may give a warm, cozy feeling, it actually pulls heat out of your home and up the chimney.

If you’re going to be without heat for more than 24 hours, don’t use your fireplace without taking certain measures to reduce heat lost through the chimney. These include:

  • Keeping the damper partway closed when the fire is burning hottest
  • Placing a glass boundary in front of your fireplace to decrease the amount of heat escaping through the chimney

As a rule of thumb, the fireplace should be the last resort to stay warm if you’re without heat for a prolonged period of time.

What To Do When Your Heater Is Not Working

Whether your heating unit begins to falter in late fall, the dead of winter or early spring, you’ll want to keep it on your radar before it goes out completely.

While late fall and early spring may not make or break your night’s sleep. Losing your heater during the chill of winter will certainly put a damper in your day.

If your heater is not working and you’d like some professional support, check us out today.