Is My Heating Problem an Emergency?

It’s a freezing cold winter night and suddenly you wake up to your furnace making a loud screeching noise as well as the smell of something burning. Something has clearly gone wrong, there’s no question about it. After shutting your furnace down, you start to wonder if you’ll have to suffer through the cold for the remainder of the night. Pretty much any homeowner can tell you just how quickly your home can start to feel cold and uncomfortable when the temperature outside plummets, and that can mean all sorts of problems inside.

At 72 Degrees Air Conditioning & Heating, we’re proud to offer 24/7 emergency services so you never have to be stuck in this situation. However, we often find that people hesitate to reach out for help when they need to because they don’t believe their situation is considered an “emergency.” Conversely, some customers may not realize that the issue they’re dealing with is a simple one that they can often resolve themselves.

On this blog, we’ll discuss a few situations in which you should call for emergency services, and a few in which you may be able to resolve the problem or at least wait until morning in order to request a visit from a professional technician.

Definitive Emergencies

In some cases, your furnace or heater will show some signs that point to an urgent need for professional attention. In these cases, it’s strongly recommended you seek assistance as soon as possible, as you’re dealing with a definitive emergency. Not doing so can have catastrophic consequences for both your heating system and your home as a whole. Here are a few common ones:

  • Loud noises: Do you hear any loud banging, thumping, screeching, buzzing, vibration, or noises coming from your system? Each noise could point to one of several problems, and many of these problems are fairly serious. If you hear any of these types of noises coming from your system, it’s a good idea to shut your system down and call for help immediately. This is true for noises that are coming from either your indoor or your outdoor unit.
  • Strange smells: Does something smell like burning rubber? What about natural gas? These are two fairly common signs that something has gone very, very wrong with your furnace and needs urgent attention. Shut your system down immediately, open a window to let fresh air into your home, and call us right away. If you’re dealing with a problem like a gas leak in your furnace, you can’t afford to wait. A smell of burning rubber could indicate an electrical problem, as the smell could be the plastic shielding around wires melting or burning away.
  • Refusal to turn on: Does your system fail to turn on when you flip the switch? This could be due to a number of different reasons, and picking out which one can be a monumental task. In this case, it’s strongly advised you wait until a professional can get a good look at your system and figure out what’s going on for themselves. Continuing to try and use your system could only lead to further damage and in many cases it’s not worth the risk.

Minor Issues

These common problems are actually a lot less serious than most people think, and as a result are something that you could possibly be able to fix entirely on your own. Whether you want to fix the issue yourself or would rather trust a professional, these types of repairs are some which more than likely don’t need urgent emergency attention. Instead, give us a call during the next business day and we’d be happy to take a look at it for you.

  • Dead/unresponsive thermostat: A problem with your thermostat will prevent your furnace from turning on. However, it isn’t a problem with your furnace or heat pump itself. Believe it or not, the most common way to fix a dead thermostat is to simply change a battery. Pop the main thermostat plate off (usually you don’t even need tools to do so) and then check the back for the type of battery it needs. Many units run on a nine-volt cell, but some run on AA or AAA cells. Simply replace these batteries and your system should spring back to life. If this doesn’t work, have a professional check your thermostat at the next available opportunity.
  • Power outage while using your heater: If your heater causes the power in your home to shut off, the most likely cause is that you simply over-drew your power. This is a fairly common problem in homes where electrical hardware is starting to show age and circuit breakers are more likely to trip. Unplug one or two of the devices that are running on the same circuit as your heater and reset the breaker. Your system should work again.
Got a problem that needs immediate attention? Call 72 Degrees Air Conditioning & Heating and let our Fredericksburg furnace repair experts take care of the issue!