Your furnace is instrumental in keeping your home warm in the winter. Its mechanical abilities allow it to transform cold air into warm air that then travels into your house, making your living space cozy and comfortable. As your furnace ages, it's more likely to have broken parts or a decline in function. Sometimes, you may hear strange sounds coming from your furnace, ranging from dull rumblings to loud screeching and grinding.
While some of these noises may be normal, many furnace noises can point to severe problems that you should take care of immediately.
Normal Furnace Noises
It's normal to hear a noise as your furnace starts, especially in old furnaces. This noise could be a product of your furnace igniting and working correctly. An initial pop or click as your furnace turns on is entirely normal, as your furnace should then settle into a dull thrum as it kicks into gear.
But an excessive nature to these noises, or louder, stranger noises could pose more pressing issues.
9 Furnace Noises and What They Mean
Be sure to monitor your furnace for strange noises. Often the sound can give you a clue as to what could be going wrong.
A dull rumbling could point to various problems with your furnace. A loud, intense rumble that almost seems to shake the house could be the result of fuel continuing to burn in your furnace even after the burner has turned off. Have a professional come check your furnace if it makes this sound since the problem could be releasing carbon monoxide into your home.
2. Booms or Bangs
A loud furnace boom sound is another potentially problematic sign. The boom is likely the result of a small gas explosion inside your furnace. Your furnace may not be lighting properly, causing gas to build up before the furnace starts, causing a larger than normal explosion. A dirty furnace that hasn't been cleaned in a long time is a common cause of booms and bangs. These small explosions can create further issues such as cracked heat exchangers, which can leak carbon monoxide. If you continue to hear booms that sound like a muffled gunshot, be sure to have a professional service check for repairs or cleaning.
A click as your furnace turns on is normal — this is just the sound of the igniter. But repeated, excessive clicking throughout the furnace cycle can signal issues.
If your furnace is clicking but not kicking on, it could be due to loose wiring or a leaking valve. If the furnace is clicking on and off again, you may want to get your sensor checked. And repeated clicking throughout cycles could be a compressor or control panel issue.
Dirty air filters that haven't been replaced in a while are a common cause of a whistling sound in your furnace. When the filter is dirty or clogged, air whistles through the narrow openings. Be sure you clean or replace your air filters regularly.
When parts in your furnace become loose or detached, they can cause vibrations or buzzing noises against metal. This buzzing is a sign you should have a service check to ensure everything is running well.
A thumping noise signifies that a larger, more central piece of the furnace has become loose and is thumping against the framework. The blower wheel or motor could be unbalanced, leaving you open to severe problems if you don't get it fixed. If it sounds as though something solid is bouncing around in your washing machine, then be sure to have your furnace checked to see if that's the source of the noise.
7. Grinding, Scraping, or Clanking
If your furnace sounds like a train grinding and scraping away on tracks, then you probably have an issue with the blower wheel. The wheel may have become unmoored and is grinding or scraping against metal it shouldn't be, or another piece has become loose or stuck in the blower. The cause may not be as important here - if you hear grinding or scaping metal, it's time to have a service look into it before it creates permanent damage.
Popping noises can be more difficult because sometimes they're perfectly normal, but other times they can signal a problem. Small pops when your furnace kicks on are likely normal as your air ducts expand and contract with temperature changes. But a dirty burner can also create a buildup of gas, leading to tiny explosions — pops — that can seriously damage your furnace. If the pops are loud and keep happing, you may want to call in a professional.
High-pitched screeching and squealing is a scary sound to hear coming from your basement or attic. Sometimes it could be that your blower wheel is broken and needs repairs, and other times it may just need some lubrication to keep it working correctly.
What Should You Do if You Hear These Noises?
If you hear one or more of these sounds, you could be concerned your furnace is having issues. It's good to have a basic guide to follow to determine your next steps.
- Identify the sound: Listen closely to know what sound you're actually hearing. If you can describe the noise, you'll better understand what is going wrong and how serious it may be.
- Examine patterns: If you hear a light popping or clicking sound when your furnace turns on, this probably isn't a sign that something is seriously wrong, just the sounds of your furnace working as it should. But if patterns of noises become excessive and constant and seem out of the ordinary, then you may need to address them.
- Consult a professional service: If the noises on this list are familiar to you, be sure to consult a professional service. Many of these noises can result in serious safety issues, such as carbon monoxide leaks, broken parts that prevent heat from entering your home, or gas explosions that can harm your furnace. Partner with a trusted service to inspect your furnace, clean it regularly, and offer repair solutions so you can feel safe and confident in your home.
Reach out to Smart Touch Energy
Smart Touch Energy offers preventative maintenance for your oil furnace, including cleaning and repairs. You shouldn't have to worry about staying warm throughout the winter months or the safety of your furnace. Smart Touch Energy can give you the service you need to feel safe and comfortable. Contact us today!