A well-cared-for HVAC, or heating, ventilation, and air conditioning system can run for many years, but there can still be times when a specialist needs to be called in. Of course, in time the system wears out and needs to be replaced. Sometimes a homeowner knows immediately when they should call an HVAC professional: they are not getting heat or cool air even after they’ve checked their furnaces and their A/C units. But those other times when a pro needs to be called are not quite as obvious. Here are five signs that tell a homeowner when an HVAC specialist needs to be called in:
1. The Seasons are Changing
A homeowner doesn’t need an emergency to call an HVAC specialist. Part of good maintenance is to call a specialist in at the beginning of the cooling and heating seasons to make sure that all of the systems are working properly. This can cut down considerably on the chances of having to call in the middle of a freezing cold night or a broiling hot day.
2. Everything is Working but There’s No Cold Air
If the homeowner has checked all aspects of their air conditioning unit and they’re working even though there’s not enough cold air, the problem may be low refrigerant levels. This is a time to call in a professional because they are the only ones who are qualified to recharge refrigerant.
3. A Brand New House
Call an HVAC professional well before the system is installed in a new house. They will be able to tell how many BTUs, or British Thermal Units the system needs to keep the house comfortable in all seasons. They do this by calculating how much heat a house loses to the outdoors and how much it gains through exposure to the sun.
Knowing this allows a homeowner to buy the right sized furnace and air conditioner for their home. One that is too large wastes energy and one that is too small doesn’t heat or cool the house sufficiently.
4. When a Gas is Furnace is Making Strange Noises
A gas furnace that makes a rumbling or squealing noise needs the attention of a professional. When it squeals it means the blower belt is starting to slip or the bearings need to be lubricated. When it’s rumbling, the pilot light is not adjusted properly or the burners are dirty. These components are best fixed by a professional.
5. When the Chimney Attached to an Oil Furnace Starts to Smoke
The flue on an oil furnace connects to the chimney, and when the unit is running properly the chimney shouldn’t smoke. It may smoke if the burner fires up when the flue is cold, but this should stop after some time has passed. If there’s still smoke, it’s a sign that the combustion is faulty and that the furnace is wasting fuel. An HVAC professional needs to come in and adjust the burner and take instrument readings for the furnace. Many HVAC companies have 24/7 emergency service, but the homeowner might be the last on the list of a group of homes whose heat goes out on the coldest night of the year. Not only this, but the emergency service tends to be pricey, especially if the HVAC professional has to drive a long distance to get to the house. Some homeowners beat this by signing a service contract with their HVAC company. For a small, monthly fee, a service contract makes the homeowner a priority during an emergency and automatically schedules tune-ups and troubleshooting before the heating and cooling seasons. Homeowners with service contracts may also get discounts on new equipment such as furnaces, air conditioners or heat pumps.