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Don't Let a Heating Emergency Leave You Out in the Cold

These Warning Signs Mean It’s Time To Call for Emergency Furnace Repair

Heater troubles are never fun, least of all in the dead of winter. In fact, icy weather can turn a simple heater malfunction into an urgent crisis all on its own. However, many homeowners hesitate to call for repairs until their heating system quits working entirely, leaving them stranded without heat as winter’s frosty fingers close around their homes. During a harsh winter, a furnace failure can pose serious health risks, so it’s crucial to act fast when the signs of an imminent failure present themselves. Here are a few of the most common instances in which emergency heater repair can save the day.

Heater Is Blowing Cold Air

If the heater is on but is only producing cold air, there are several possible reasons. The first thing to do is to double-check the thermostat. If the fan function is set to ‘On,’ the fan will perpetually blow air through the vents whether there’s heat or not. Changing the fan control to the ‘AUTO’ position may solve the problem. Another simple cause may be a dirty air filter - too much dirt and dust can restrict air intake and cause the heat exchanger to overheat, causing the thermocouple or limit switch to engage and shut off the burners.

Similar safety mechanisms may be engaged if the pilot light or gas valve is malfunctioning or if the safety sensor itself is dirty or faulty. Excessive grime or dust on burners or electrical components can cause problems with ignition. When burners or electric heating elements fail, the blower fan may continue to circulate air throughout the home. 

Loud and Unusual Noises


Certain loud noises coming from the furnace or heat pump may also be cause for concern. Screeching, grinding, or metallic whining usually means that a fan drive bearing is worn down or in need of lubrication. This can result in the damaging (or complete destruction) of the motor if not immediately addressed. 

Loud booms or bangs when the unit kicks on might simply be the air ducts rapidly expanding or flexing due to the change in temperature and air pressure. But just as often, these startling sounds come from the furnace itself and are caused by the late combustion of gas inside the heat exchanger, sometimes referred to as “ignition roll-out.” This typically occurs when dirt or grime on the burners hinders ignition, allowing gas to accumulate for a few seconds before finally being sparked. These small explosions inside the furnace can severely damage the unit and create a dangerous situation.

The Smell of Gas

While any kind of heater breakdown can constitute an emergency in extremely cold conditions, nothing is more dangerous than a gas leak. Natural gas is toxic and highly flammable - a leak could result in illness, lethal poisoning, fire, or a devastating explosion. Gas furnaces are designed with safety features to prevent these horrific scenarios, but the possibility of a leak should never be discounted. 

bad smell

Every home’s natural gas supply contains an additive called mercaptan - which has a distinctive odor of rotten eggs - to help aid detection in the event of a gas leak. A fleeting trace of this unpleasant odor may be present near the furnace whenever it turns on, but it should vanish after a few seconds. A faint hissing sound might also emanate from the source of the leak. A leak may be caused by a faulty valve, a pilot light malfunction, or a ruptured gas line.

If anyone suspects a gas leak, they should immediately shut off the gas (if this can be done quickly and safely), evacuate the home, and call the fire department. Once the house is deemed safe, a professional HVAC technician can be brought in to perform repairs. 

About Walker Plumbing, Heating & Air

Walker Plumbing, Heating & Air has been St. George, Utah’s trusted home service company since 2002. Their honesty, quality workmanship, and outstanding service have earned them multiple awards and a long list of 5-star customer reviews. They promise up-front pricing, financing options, 24/7 emergency service, and a 100% satisfaction guarantee.