If you're like most homeowners, your household heating system isn't something you give much thought to until and unless it malfunctions on a cold day or night. This can cause all sorts of inconveniences, such as being forced to spend the night or even the entire weekend huddled under a thick layer of blankets trying to stay warm until the repair service can fix the problem. In some cases, those who've suffered a furnace breakdown opt for the expense of staying in a nearby hotel or motel. One of the side effects of having an unheated home in subfreezing weather is that the pipes are at increased risk of freezing — and frozen pipes often burst, leading to even more inconvenience as well as expensive repairs. Fortunately, there are ways to tell if you need to call a heating service. Most people know to call a repair service if the furnace begins making loud or unexpected noises, but signs of imminent malfunctions are often silent. Following are three silent signs that you need to call a heating repair service right away so that the problem can be dealt with before the unit completely breaks down:
The Pilot Light is Yellow or Orange Instead of Mostly Blue
A yellow pilot light on a gas furnace serves as an indication that the unit is not functioning as it should. The most common cause is a dirty pilot area, but faulty airflow could also be the culprit. Checking the flame about once a week during winter is a good idea — it should be primarily blue with only a very slight amount of yellow or orange around the edges.
The Unit Stops and Starts More Than Usual
If your heating unit suddenly starts starting and stopping more than usual, this could mean that the unit is working too hard for some reason and could signal an impending breakdown. This situation has a variety of underlying causes, and only a trained technician can properly determine the root cause.
Your Heating Bill Goes Up Unexpectedly
A sudden increase in your heating bill that goes beyond the normal seasonal bump is definitely a silent signal that it's time to schedule an appointment with your local heating service. This could be a ventilation issue, a thermostat issue, or an issue caused by components that are wearing out and need replacement. It's always a good idea to check utility costs against those of the previous year to check for telltale inconsistencies.