If you live in one of the many regions where spring is preceded by a few weeks of flipping back and forth between sunny days and frosty ones, you may spend a couple of chilly evenings huddled beneath blankets as you attempt to brave the most recent cold snap without turning your heat back on. In some cases, this lack of heat becomes involuntary as your furnace selects this late cold snap as the best time to give up the ghost. While it can be tempting to push this issue aside and give yourself a few extra months to save up for furnace repairs rather than calling a repairman immediately, doing so can often have some potentially negative consequences. Read on to learn more about when you should seek immediate repair of your furnace, as well as a few factors you'll want to consider when mapping out your options.
When should you seek furnace repair immediately?
If your home's furnace is gas-powered and operated through a pilot light, it is generally a good idea to have any issues checked out as quickly as possible to eliminate the possibility of a gas leak (or a blockage somewhere in your supply or ventilation lines that could cause a leak). While most utility providers will add odor-causing compounds to gas to make these leaks easier to detect, depending upon your sense of smell for an indication that potentially deadly gas is leaking into (or around) your home isn't the best idea. You may be able to call your utility company to send a representative to your home to check for a leak, but this can only identify those that have already occurred -- not those that may be ticking inside your now-defunct time bomb of a furnace.
Even if you choose not to have your gas furnace immediately repaired, having it looked over by a professional can give you an idea of the repairs you'll eventually need to make and help ensure the safety of both you and your family in the meantime.
For those with electric heat, the "when to repair?" timeline becomes a bit more flexible. However, there are still some issues that can quickly devolve into more expensive (or destructive) problems down the road and should be addressed as quickly as possible.
If your furnace is showing signs of electrical trouble -- for example, causing the lights to flicker or even go out when the furnace first kicks on -- you'll want to have it looked over by an electrician to ensure there are no shorts in the wiring (or bare wires) that could cause an electrical fire. Fortunately, furnace wiring issues are usually fairly simple and inexpensive to fix.
What factors should you consider when deciding whether to put off a needed furnace repair?
Once you've ruled out any issues that could cause serious damage if not immediately remedied, you'll want to consider a couple of factors when scheduling a furnace repair.
First is the time of year. If you're planning to enlist a furnace repair technician who also works on air conditioning units, scheduling this service just before the hot weather hits could subject you to premium or peak pricing or leave you waiting for weeks as a company deluged with repair requests makes its rounds. On the other side of the coin, using someone who specializes only in heating repair could subject you to the same premium pricing and limited availability if you wait until autumn to schedule your service. You'll want to try to schedule your repair for the "off season" to keep costs low.
Another factor you'll want to take into account is the age of your furnace. In some cases, waiting a summer to repair a newer furnace could put you outside the date range for any applicable warranty, forcing you to shoulder these costs yourself. On the other hand, if your furnace is already a decade old (or even older), you may want to take advantage of this time to look at newer models and run the math to see if the efficiency savings would be worthwhile.
For more information and tips, contact a local HVAC company like Mike's Bremen Service Inc.