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Are You Sensing Heating Problems in Your Home?

Posted: November 8, 2021

Be on the Alert for Any Strange Noises or Smells

Every problem has a symptom, and frequently, it is accompanied by something you see, hear, smell or even feel.

Sensing problems is very common at this time of year since we’re turning on our heating systems for the first time in a couple of months.

Dusty, Burning Smell

We often hear about this when customers turn on their heating system for the first time. This smell usually means your heating system is just burning off the dust and dirt that has built up on it during the off-season.

The smell should stop in a few hours. If the smell continues, try replacing the air filter in your furnace, which may be dirty. The filter should always be changed or cleaned (depending on its type) at the beginning of the season. Check it regularly during the heating season. Make sure you shut off your furnace before replacing the filter.

If changing the filter doesn’t work, it’s time to call for service.

Other Unusual Smells

Foul smells can often be caused by stagnant water. That’s the most common source for bad odors because water often turns to mold. Look for water leaks in the roof, foundation, around sinks and other piping. Besides correcting water leaks promptly, you can keep indoor air virtually odor-free with correctly sized equipment, constant airflow, and air purification systems.

Do you have a heating oil system? If it’s been maintained properly, you should never smell fuel oil. An oil smell could be caused by a leak, burner troubles, a heat exchanger failure or exhaust system problems. You should schedule service as soon as possible to correct this situation.

If you smell smoky odors when your burner is operating, you may have a backdraft. For example, if a fireplace or exhaust fan is running at the same time as your oil burner, this can result in a smoky odor because a backdraft is pulling flue gases through the exhaust system and into the home.

Strange Noises

Here are a few sounds and the possible cause. (Note: a correct diagnosis can only be made with an onsite visit by a service technician).

  • Banging, whistling, howling or the sound of rushing water in your pipes. These are common symptoms of air in the pipes, insufficient water flow or a build-up of sludge.
  • Booming or rumbling burner. It’s normal to hear a burner turn on, but if it makes a loud boom, also known as a “hard start,” the burner is not igniting properly. It needs to be serviced as soon as possible.
  • Straining sound from fuel pump. This means that there is a clog somewhere in the delivery system, for instance, in a filter or supply line.

Feeling a Chill in Your Shower

If it takes longer to heat water than it used to, or the water doesn’t get as hot, these are strong signs that you are ready for a new water heating unit. Other trouble signs include a slow leak from your tank or rust on the tank or in your tap water. (A water tank rusts from the inside out).

If you think your water heater is failing—the average water heater lasts anywhere from 7 to 13 years—please speak with us about your options in oil-fired or propane-fired water heaters. Learn more here.

You Can See Evidence of Heat Loss from Your Attic

This winter, if you see icicles hanging from your roof, this usually means that you’re losing heat through your attic.

Icicles form when a roof has “hot spots” (caused by escaping heat), which melts the snow. The water then trickles to colder spots on the roof and freezes. The water that drips over the eaves turns into icicles.

Eventually, ice dams can form and water trapped behind these mounds of ice can seep into the home, resulting in costly repairs.

The solution for heat loss and potential water damage is to seal air leaks in your attic and then improve the insulation. These steps will lower your heating costs—and reduce cooling bills in the summer too because your attic will retain less heat.

If you’re having any comfort problems at all, or think your furnace or boiler is not working properly, please reach out to us to request a service appointment.

If you have a no-heat emergency, please don’t email us. Call us right away and we’ll send a service technician out to your home as soon as possible.