If your furnace is acting up, it can be a real source of worry and stress. Not only is your furnace responsible for keeping your family safe and warm during the cold winter months, but a broken furnace could mean a large financial burden. Depending on the issue, you could need anything from a simple repair or replacement part, to a costly new furnace.
Thankfully, our local furnace service and repair technicians have found that many furnace issues in Ottawa are relatively easy to remedy. Some common symptoms of furnace problems include weird noises or your furnace putting out inconsistent heat.
Ultimately, your furnace’s particular solution will depend on factors such as the age of your furnace and how well you’ve kept it maintained throughout its lifespan. While it may seem too late if you’re already experiencing issues, we recommend at least annual inspections. We’ll go into more details around factors influencing the operation of your furnace, below.
Furnace Aging and Lifespan
Most furnaces last about 15 to 20 years, and after that repairs will become more frequent and costly, eventually leading to replacement. That means if you’ve lived in the same place for a decade or two and have never replaced your furnace, issues will start to appear with increasing frequency. You’ll need an expert to come and check it out, but the good news is that you’ll probably be able to get away with some relatively inexpensive repairs before you end up at total replacement.
A History of Frequent Repair
Keeping your furnace maintained is something we highly recommend, starting with annual inspections. Beyond ensuring steady function, this keeps your home in safe, working order. However, if you’ve been dealing with a tricky furnace for the past few winters and have your local furnace repair shop on speed dial, you probably have a bigger problem.
An unreliable furnace working perfectly one day and not the next, might add to your stress and discomfort, but it also is costing you more than need be. In the long run, frequent repairs actually end up costing you more than simply installing a new unit. Our general rule is that if a repair is less than a third of the cost of buying a new furnace, you should consider furnace repair. But if you’ve already paid out more than the total value of your furnace over time, furnace service calls may just be prolonging the inevitable of your real need: a new furnace.
If you feel that you’d like a new furnace, but are not sure how you will afford it, we have financing options available and would love to help you plan your next move.
Energy Bill Changes
If your home’s energy bills have been consistent over the last few winters but you’re now paying more, you could be dealing with low furnace efficiency. While you may be able to get a few more winters out of a struggling furnace, you’ll have to weigh the cost of an increase in your energy bill against scheduling furnace service. Depending on how warm you keep your home (especially with how cold winters are in Ottawa), the heating repairs might actually be cheaper than paying inflated rates for energy, especially the earlier you book the repair in the season. Of course, you could also be avoiding a breakdown at an unknown time.
Uneven Heat Distribution
Another culprit for needing heating services is a furnace that doesn’t heat your home evenly. If one or more rooms in your home are uncomfortably cold when your furnace is running, that could point to a furnace or duct issue. The ducts are responsible for getting warm air from your furnace to everywhere in the house, and the lack of warm air where you expect it could mean a failing furnace: losing power and straining under the load of trying to heat your home. However, you could also have something clogging your ducts, or even just a closed return vent! We’ve seen that happen to a few of our Ottawa customers. If you suspect your ducts might be clogged, we can conduct a duct cleaning.
Being mechanical, one of the most common symptoms of a failing furnace is strange noises. Whether it’s a popping, banging or rattling sound, odd noises usually represent some kind of impending failure. Beyond imminent failure, noise could also be associated with issues such lack of moisturization, leading to uncomfortably stale or dry air in your home, which is an especially acute problem with Ottawa’s dry winters. By calling a furnace service or repair professional, you can have your furnace diagnosed and fixed before something big happens and you lose your furnace altogether.
Burner Flame Discoloration
Natural gas furnaces have a bright blue flame with some yellow at the top. If your furnace’s burner flame is all yellow, that could indicate a problem with fuel combustion, which may actually be sending poisonous carbon monoxide throughout your home. Carbon monoxide is often called the silent killer, consisting of an odourless, colourless gas that replaces the oxygen in your blood. Even if not causing death, CO poisoning can cause permanent disability. If you do not have a carbon monoxide detector in your home, you were required to in Ontario as of 2014. When choosing a carbon monoxide detector, look for a certification mark from a certification body accredited by the Standards Council of Canada.
If you see any other discoloration in your furnace’s burner flame, you need to call a furnace service expert to immediately address the issue. While normally we have seen this to be a minor furnace repair, it could also point to a bigger problem that may only be solved with full replacement.