Is Your Furnace Failing? 5 Warning Sounds to Listen For

Is Your Furnace Failing? 5 Warning Sounds to Listen For

Paying attention to your Eastern MA furnace can save you an expensive, untimely repair if it suddenly breaks down, especially if it does so in the middle of winter. There are a few sounds that a furnace makes that can indicate the unit is failing. Preventative maintenance is key to avoiding furnace failures, but if you hear one of these sounds, then you should call a trusted local professional like 128 Plumbing to assess your furnace thoroughly. If you’ve just started using your furnace this season, read on to discover the top five causes of furnace failures.

1. Booming

Furnaces often make a booming sound when they start up. Older model furnaces in Middlesex County homes tend to have gas buildup near the ignition due to a delay in the ignition process. Older furnaces may need to have the ignition replaced to prevent furnace failures and possibly even explosions. Booming sounds in furnaces can also happen when the machine’s burner assembly becomes partially blocked. This can occur if something in the furnace ignition assembly is broken or disconnected, causing it to fail.

While natural gas combustion is necessary for the unit to provide heat, it can produce by-products such as carbon particles. If these particles aren’t removed, you may hear a booming sound when your furnace lights. This can be avoided by regular preventative maintenance and cleaning. If you hear booming when your furnace starts, call a service technician like 128 Plumbing immediately, especially if you notice the odor of natural gas around your furnace. If you do smell natural gas, it’s also important to shut the gas valve off until a professional can evaluate the problem.

2. Clicking

Clicking noises are another sign that a North Shore home’s furnace may fail. There are a few different reasons why your furnace may be making clicking sounds, and these all can contribute to sudden failures.

A loose inducer is the first reason that furnaces make a clicking sound. Oil furnaces use motor-powered fans, also called furnace inducers, to blow out smoke and fumes. If this fan becomes loose, it can start making a clicking sound. If soot and grime are allowed to accumulate on the fan blades, the excess weight can result in a clicking noise when the fan is running. Our 128 Plumbing furnace pros clean and calibrate the fan as part of preventive maintenance. This is especially important for furnaces that are still under warranty. Failure to perform proper preventative maintenance can invalidate a furnace’s warranty.

Worn motor bearings are another possible cause of clicking sounds in a furnace. Worn bearings can seize up and lead to the motor burning out. Checking the bearings is part of a preventive maintenance package, and replacing them can be less expensive than installing a new motor.

Problems with the gas valves leading to and within the unit can also cause clicking sounds and lead to failure. You may notice that these sounds are random, unlike inducer and worn bearings clicking noises that follow a pattern. It takes a professional like 128 Plumbing to fix this issue because Massachusetts law requires that any gas-related furnace repair be completed by a licensed plumber.

Over time, the pilot light assembly in your furnace can become loose, bent, or worn down and dirty. These issues prevent the furnace pilot light from functioning properly. Clicking sounds that you hear can be due to an issue with the wiring, flame sensor, gas valve, ignition, or pilot light. You’ll need a professional furnace repair company to determine the cause and fix a malfunctioning furnace pilot light. These repairs should only be completed by a trained professional, as a malfunctioning pilot light can be dangerous.

Clicking noises in furnaces often require immediate attention. Any time there’s a disruption between the ignition and the gas on a furnace, there’s a danger of an explosion or fire. Older furnaces may be more susceptible to ignition problems, so if your unit is more than 15 years old, it’s even more important to have it inspected annually.

3. Squealing

High-pitched squeaking and squealing in your furnace can indicate either a failing fan motor or a faulty belt. Both of these fixes are fairly routine for a professional HVAC repair company like 128 Plumbing.

A blower motor with misaligned components is another source of these types of noises in furnaces. Specifically, it’s the blower housing and the blower motor scraping against each other that produces a squeaking or squealing noise. While this isn’t an emergency like issues with the pilot light or ignition, a misalignment in the blower that isn’t fixed can lead to a costly repair or eventually result in a failed furnace in a Greater Boston home.

4. Rattling

Rattling sounds in furnaces can be signs of worn or broken components in a number of places. Often, the noise is intermittent and not very loud. If the rattling in your furnace is getting louder and happening consistently, though, you may be facing a furnace failure.

Furnace blower wheels are equipped with weights and clips that must stay in balance for the motor to work properly and efficiently. If the weights are thrown off balance, then a rattling noise will occur in the furnace. Dirt can also accumulate under the wheels if a furnace isn’t cleaned and maintained regularly. As dirt builds up, the weight it adds can throw off the balance.

Loose screws and stray scrap metal in the furnace cabinet housing and burner assemblies can also lead to a furnace failure. When you opt for preventative maintenance by a reputable furnace repair company like 128 Plumbing, we can make sure your furnace is free of damaging scrap metal, tighten loose screws, and clean the various parts to eliminate soot and dirt buildup.

5. Chirping

You may notice a chirping sound when you first begin using your furnace. This is fairly common in furnaces that haven’t been used in a while. If it’s the beginning of the chilly season and you hear your furnace chirping, it’s ok to wait a little bit. It may just be the equipment getting geared up to work. However, if the chirping sound persists in your furnace, it can mean that the fan belts need to be replaced.

Other causes for a chirping furnace may include wheel misalignment, warped mounting plates, worn out bearings, and loose motor mounts. Because there are so many different causes for chirping in a furnace, hiring a certified technician to find the root cause can prevent a larger, more costly repair or an unexpected failure.

Maintenance is Key to Preventing Furnace Failures

Preventative maintenance is the key to avoiding furnace failures. Contracting with a reputable local HVAC business to inspect and service your furnace annually can help find small problems before they become large, expensive, or even dangerous ones. Doing so can also help ensure that your unit doesn’t break down suddenly in the middle of winter.

While some sounds coming from your furnace may simply mean it’s due for a cleaning, or a few loose screws need to be tightened, other types of furnace noises can indicate it needs an immediate repair to prevent a natural gas leak or possible explosion. Regardless of the type of noise, if you begin hearing unusual sounds from your furnace, it’s best to consult with a North Shore professional, such as 128 Plumbing.

Do You Need Furnace Service?

If you can’t recall the last time you had preventative maintenance performed or an inspection of your furnace, then it’s time to have it completed. Give 128 Plumbing a call or visit us online to schedule a furnace maintenance appointment and ensure that you and your family stay safe and toasty warm this winter.