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Emergency Furnace Repair: When and Why You Need It

Not sure when you need emergency services for your furnace? We go over common issues to look for and key signs.

Emergency Furnace Repair: When and Why You Need It

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Olivia Minnier


August 17th, 2022

Has your furnace quit working, and you’re unsure if you need emergency services? Not sure what constitutes an emergency repair? Identifying the signs and symptoms can help save you money and time and be more prepared for when your system does need this level of attention.

At Fire & Ice, we’ve helped hundreds of customers determine whether or not they need emergency repair services and identify what their system might need.

First, let’s go over what an emergency repair means and could look like.

What is an Emergency Furnace Repair?

An emergency repair is an awful lot like it sounds, an urgent repair. For your HVAC system, this usually means that your system is either not working, is majorly malfunctioning, or is causing an issue such as a gas leak to warrant that type of call.

If it is determined you are in this level of a situation, especially if it is incredibly serious or a “no heat” situation in the middle of the winter, we will do our best to prioritize you over less serious calls, we may have.

Warning Signs for Emergency Furnace Repairs

It might sound obvious, but it isn’t always easy to tell the signs that your furnace could be approaching an emergency repair. Here are some common signs to look for or point out to your technician.

A Yellow Pilot Light For Gas Furnaces

If you have a natural gas furnace, the pilot light should always be on and will be a blue color; if it is not on, the pilot light will turn yellow. This indicates that your furnace needs to be repaired and could potentially leak carbon monoxide. If you notice this, shut off your gas furnace and contact an HVAC technician immediately.

Rapid Cycling

Another telling sign of repairs is rapid cycling, or the furnace shuts on and off frequently. Primarily if the furnace has worked well in the past, this could indicate several issues, such as the thermostat not communicating with the furnace or a more severe problem. Again, call your HVAC technician to ensure there are no serious issues.

Rotten Eggs Smell

Call an HVAC technician immediately if you smell a strange odor coming from your furnace that could be described as rotten eggs. This is a sign of a gas leak due to the sulfur added to the gas and could lead to carbon monoxide poisoning. Shut your system off and call your HVAC technician if you smell this odor as soon as possible.

For additional tips on preventing carbon monoxide poisoning and staying safe during a potential gas leak, visit our article for additional information.

Thermostat Not Responding

If your thermostat is not reading the correct temperature that you’ve set your system to, not matching how it feels inside your, or is just not working at all, call your HVAC technician. These are all clear signs that your thermostat and system are not communicating and working together. Typically, your thermostat will quit working at the same time or close to the time that your system goes out. Asking for a diagnostic appointment will allow you to figure out if one or both need to be replaced.

Dust Coming From Registers

Lastly, if you see a significant amount of dust coming out of the vents inside your home, call your HVAC professional. Dust that is normally filtered out by your furnace may struggle to be caught by one that is older or malfunctioning. All homes have dust, but if you notice a higher amount than normal, call a technician for a diagnostic appointment.

If you’re experiencing any of the above, be sure to call your HVAC professional immediately to have a technician come to your home and diagnose your system.

How Does Emergency Heat Come into Play?

Other than calling your HVAC contractor, you might also notice something else happens with your system when it stops heating, your emergency heat. Emergency heat is designed to kick on when your system is malfunctioning, and your heat pump stops working.

Either it’s not working at all, or it has generated heat until the coil (located outside) might become encased in frost, which can cause damage. That triggers the heat pump to go into a “defrost” mode. During the defrost cycle, your heat pump will switch to cooling mode to warm up the coil and melt the ice. While in defrost mode, no heat will be transferred inside.

And if no heat is going inside, your house has no central heat, triggering the emergency function.

Heat strips located in the air handler or electric furnace turn on and glow red hot. That heat is then circulated by the blower through the ductwork. When one heating implement shuts down (the heat pump), another takes over.

The exact process holds true if something catastrophic happens to your heat pump. If it shuts down for any reason, you can set your thermostat (some do it automatically) to the emergency setting. That stops the signal from going to the heat pump calling for heat and turns on the heat strips. They will keep your house warm until you can get an HVAC contractor out to fix the problem.

If you see your emergency light come on, your system has suffered a severe issue, and you need to contact an HVAC professional immediately.

Maintenance Agreements Can Help Prevent Future Furnace Emergencies

One way to keep on track with your tune-ups is by signing up for a maintenance agreement. Check out our maintenance agreement page for a complete list of services in our available maintenance agreements. Below we talk about a few critical aspects of the plans and why they exemplify the desirable traits you want in a maintenance plan.

Priority Service

All our maintenance agreement customers get access to priority service when placing a call for tune-ups or service. Depending on your level, you can select which technician you have or pick a time on a Saturday.

Repair Warranty

Repair warranties for replacement parts sometimes last as little as 60 days from the manufacturer. With our three maintenance agreements extending this warranty to one, two, and three years, there’s peace of mind knowing that a repair wasn’t done just to collect a paycheck and get it running for a short while. If we aren’t confident the repair will last for years, we won’t do it, and you’re covered either way.

Lifetime Workmanship Guarantee

Guarantees like this are rare in the industry. Ours states the following:

“We guarantee the following items for the lifetime of the equipment against defects in materials or workmanship from the date the system is installed:

  • All ductwork we install
  • All ductwork insulation we install
  • Other items we install include sheet metal straps, clamps, fasteners, hangers, locks, drivers, drain piping, and fittings.
  • All high-voltage electrical wiring, wire nuts, straps, ties, and connectors we install
  • All refrigerant piping we install (does not include the cost to gain access to underground or other inaccessible piping)
  • Refrigerant insulation we install
  • All equipment pads, stands, jacks, and vibration elimination devices we install

Proper maintenance is what allows us to offer this unique guarantee. The only requirement to keep this protection in force for the lifetime of the equipment is to renew your annual maintenance program when due.”

And if you think these are empty words, I can again promise you that we’ve honored this agreement on those rare occasions when the work is done improperly. We pride ourselves on attention to detail, but no HVAC contractor is beyond fault. Having a guarantee like this is a protection for the customer.

No Overtime Fees

If the job pays a contractor, you risk them doing a quick, poor job simply to rush to the next one. But a homeowner might worry about extended time if they're paid hourly. Protections like this are designed to hold a repair technician accountable, keep a company accountable, and standardize customer costs.

Energy Savings

Equipment tune-ups, free filter replacements, and evaporator or blower cleanings add up. All the reasons we discussed earlier apply to these everyday tasks, and guaranteeing that you’re having them done when they’re needed (often at a reduced cost) will benefit you over your system's life.

This also translates to the level of comfort you feel inside your home.

Be Proactive Towards Protecting Your Home’s Furnace

If you have any questions about your furnace or think you may be in an emergency and your system is not operational, give us a call, and we will help you. If you feel ready to take the next step and live in the Columbus, Ohio, area, use the zip code map below.

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