5 Small Signs that Can Indicate a Bigger HVAC Problem

At JK Mechanical, we believe in working together through regular maintenance, expert service, and smart system design to try and prevent problems before they start, or catch a small issue before it turns into a bigger—and more costly—issue. And while there’s never a good time for your heating system to give out, cold weather and the holiday season are probably the last time you want an inconvenient furnace, heat pump, or boiler issue.

Whether you’re due for planned maintenance or perhaps it’s getting time to replace your heating system, look for these small signs that may indicate a bigger issue is coming:

Funny Noises

Has your furnace or boiler developed a bit of a shake, rattle, and roll? As systems age, it can be common to hear an increase in operating sounds. New, persistent, or loud noises can be a sign of more serious issues with your unit. For example, a shrieking or whining noise can indicate an issue with the blower wheel, while a rattle or vibration noise can indicate that something is loose that shouldn’t be. Other noises, such as a banging or booming sound, suggest an issue with the ignition or combustion that should be taken seriously.

High Energy Bills

Unfortunately, utility costs are on the rise, with an average increase of 29% expected this winter. As it gets colder, we recommend keeping an eye on the usage information included with your utility bills so you know if your heating system is working as efficiently as it should. Many utilities include a year-over-year usage history in your monthly bill, which can help you get a better sense of whether your furnace, boiler, or heat pump is working more or less efficiently. If your usage is on the rise (without the addition of other appliances to explain the increase), it’s a common sign that something isn’t working quite right. Talk to your service technician at your next planned maintenance appointment.

(Been a while since your last JK Precision Tune-Up? Regular professional maintenance helps keep your unit running efficiently and can save you up to 20% on your heating costs! Call today or schedule your appointment online to help keep your unit working its best and save on your winter heating bills.)

Your Nose Knows

Noticed any new or unpleasant odors around your furnace, boiler, heat pump, or supply vents? In the fall, it’s common to experience a dusty or musty smells for the first few days of heating, as dust or debris that accumulated over the summer is cleared from your vents or ductwork. However, other odors (or if the “dusty” smell persists more than a few days) can indicate serious potential hazards in your home comfort system. The smell of rotten eggs or sulfur can be a sign of a gas leak. Call a professional and exit the area until your system can be fully examined. If you smell an electrical burning or metallic smell, it could be a sign of sparking or wiring issues in your unit that, if left untended, could cause an electrical fire. A smell of diesel, oil, or a “hot” smell in general can indicate an issue with the combustion.

Important tip: While odors can be a sign of a problem with your unit, it’s also important to remember that all combustion appliances (including your furnace) create carbon monoxide (CO2), which is odorless, tasteless, and can be very hazardous. Have regular maintenance performed on your system, install carbon monoxide detectors, and check their batteries regularly to help keep your home and family as safe as possible.

Unreliable Comfort

Have you noticed that your heat at home seems to have a mind of its own? If it’s running cooler or hotter than your thermostat says it ought or if the heat seems inconsistent in different areas of your home, this can point to an issue in your thermostat, in your unit, or both.  New controls, better zoning equipment, or insulation may be enough to solve the issue. However, if your unit is getting up there in years (or if you’ve already tried those other fixes), it may be a sign that your heating system is on its way out.

Inconsistent Humidity

In the winter, we often recommend using a whole home humidifier to improve your indoor air quality and combat dry winter air. However, if you start noticing moisture buildup on the windows or around the unit itself, it can be a sign that something isn’t quite right. On the other side, if your air is uncomfortably dry, it’s probably time to consider your indoor air quality and whether adding a humidifier is right for your home. Mention your concerns to your JK Technician and they can help determine if there is an issue with your system or make a recommendation for an indoor air quality product that can help.  If you have already invested in a whole home humidifier and are still seeing indoor air quality issues, talk to your technician as that indicates an issue either with your air quality equipment or the system as a whole.


When it comes to your home heating & cooling, electrical, or plumbing, our JK technicians always strive to identify small problems before they become big problems without ever pressuring you into unneeded accessories, replacements, or repairs. Schedule your Preventative Maintenance appointment with one of our experienced technicians or request your no-pressure, complimentary replacement assessment today.



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