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The nightmare of living through the cold winter months without proper heat is what most people in temperate regions dread. Even when preparations for winter have been made well beforehand, gas heaters may pack up, leaving you stranded on cold days.

The case may be worse if your water heater is not fully functional during this period. The good thing is there are usually telltale signs that warn you of the impending trouble ahead.

As a homeowner, you must identify these signs early and immediately act. In this article, we shall look at some of these signs you take seriously when observing your furnace.

Warning Signs of a Failing Gas Heater

It is important to spot these signs early as it can help prevent further complications. When immediate actions are taken, further damage to the gas heater may be prevented, and the cost of repair or replacement avoided. The following are some of the signs you need to be wary of when using a gas heater:

Increase in utility bills

It is easy to consider utility companies as the culprits when higher monthly bills are experienced. Anytime a furnace is not performing optimally; it will consume more energy.

When this happens, all that may be required may be no more than servicing your unit. However, in some other cases, when you observe a rising utility cost, it could be a sign that the unit is on its last lap.

Uneven heat distribution

A subtle warning you may get from your gas heater that it is failing is when some of the rooms in your home are colder than others. There will likely be a decline in the quality of the heat distribution from your gas heater if it malfunctions.

At this point, people in the home will feel less comfortable, which could even be a sign of more significant problems from your furnace.


A furnace may begin to malfunction due to old age, worn-out parts, or any other reason. Often, one of the ways you can easily know this is when it begins to expel more significant amounts of dust because it is no longer capable of cleaning the air in the home.

You can take a few steps when this happens, but the first one is to clean or replace the filters in the heater. If you find this too technical for you to handle, it is recommended that you call an HVAC technician to do it for you and conduct a general inspection of the unit.

Strange noises and smells

In most cases, your car would make strange sounds when something is wrong. Similarly, your gas heater may begin to give quite audible warning sounds. If your gas heater begins to make loud sounds, you have never heard before, that is a sure sign that something is wrong.

The noise could result from simple issues from loose screws to more complex ones like failing blower fan motor or inducer motor. Such occurrences require the attention of a professional, and one should not hesitate to call one. A chemical known as mercaptan, with an awful smell which reminds you of rotten eggs, is usually added to natural gas as a safety precaution.

When you begin to smell this chemical in your home, it is a sign of a severe problem because it could result from a gas leak. You should leave your home immediately when this happens and invite the gas company over.

Carbon monoxide

The typical pilot lights of fully functional gas heaters should be transparent, blue flames. So, you should expect to see a blue flame when your gas heater is functioning correctly.

One of the signs your furnace is malfunctioning is when it almost always produces a yellow flame. This can be as a result of excessive production of carbon monoxide (CO).

Other signs you should be mindful of include:

  • Moisture on nearby surfaces.
  • Rust accumulation on pipe connections.
  • Water leaking from the base of the chimney.
  • No updraft in the chimney.
  • Soot streaking.

When you notice these signs, you should ask the utility company to shut down your gas immediately and make a service call. A furnace's heat exchanger may begin to fail if it develops cracks.

This is another avenue through which carbon monoxide may leak into the air. Hurting eyes, flu-like symptoms, nausea, and general disorientation are signs of exposure to carbon monoxide.

More frequent repairs

Even if you succeed in buying the best brand of gas heater and ensure you give it annual inspections, it will eventually succumb to mechanical failure and age like others before it. You can expect a modern furnace to perform effectively for 15-20 years.

Anything beyond this time frame could take a risk you will regret later. If you have had an increasing number of repairs on your unit in the past couple of years, you should start planning to get another furnace.

Long heating times

Sometimes, it may take an extended period for your home to heat up during the cold winter months. However, if you notice that your home is taking unusually long to warm up, regardless of the weather conditions, it could indicate that your furnace is operating inefficiently.

This would be an opportune moment to contact local gas heating specialists to determine if a more significant issue exists. They can offer valuable advice and potential solutions for the delayed heating problem.

Old thermostat batteries

When furnaces fail to work again after some time, it could be because your thermostat batteries are dead. Both the thermostat and the heating unit are connected.

So, if there is no proper battery power, it will not be possible for the furnace to get the cues needed to make it run properly.

You can easily change the batteries, but if you discover this does not change the situation, you should schedule a gas heater service appointment with an HVAC technician.

Frequent cycles

A functional gas heater regulates the temperature in your home by turning it on as soon as it senses that the air is cold. You can detect a failing gas heater through the frequent cycles it makes. Some reasons this may happen may include the following:

  • Oversized furnace
  •  Overheating
  • Thermostat malfunctions

Where this problem persists, it can lead to higher heating bills over time or permanent damage to the unit. Either way, it will cost you more when this happens, and you will be better off avoiding these situations.

The furnace won't turn on

If you discover that your gas heater won't startup, there are several things you can do to identify the potential problems. Try the simple checks below before calling the experts to have a look.

  • Ensure that the thermostat has been turned on and is set to heat.
  • Confirm that the furnace fan is working properly.
  • Check the gas supply by testing some of the other gas appliances you have in your home.
  • If your furnace has a pilot light, confirm it is still ignited.

It May be Time to Call the Experts

Your gas heater is one of the appliances in your home that you would expect to serve you well. This is because any other appliance cannot easily offer the benefits it gives you.

To avoid disappointment when it may hurt you most, consider the annual servicing of your unit and never wait until you begin to see signs that the unit is failing. If with all the care and attention you give to your unit, there are still observable signs that it is failing, you should be prepared to provide furnace repairs as needed.

Doing this will require financial commitments, but it is worth your investment. Not only will it help preserve the unit's life, but it can also help to lower other costs, such as utility bills attributable to its use. If you need clarification or technical assistance, you should always send an HVAC technician to your home to inspect your unit.

Stay Warm in Winter and Cool in Summer!

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