If your heater isn't working properly this winter, you're at an increased risk for a house fire. You might not realize this, but there are over 100,000 residential fires every winter in the United States, with over 4000 injuries and 800 deaths associated with those fires. Faulty heaters can cause house fires, if you're not careful. Now that the temperatures cooling down, you need to pay close attention to your heater. It's through the close attention that you'll be able to identify potential problems before they result in a malfunction or house fire. Here are three of the warning signs you need to be aware of.
The Outer Casing in Covered in Soot
Before you turn your heater on for the first time each winter, it's a good idea to inspect it for visible damage. The outside of the heater, or the outer casing, should be clean. It can be a little dusty, but it shouldn't be coated with a visible debris. If the outer casing of your heater is covered in dark soot, or it appears to have scorch marks on it, keep it turned off until you can have it inspected. The soot and scorch marks could be a sign that your heater flue isn't working properly.
There's a Popping Sound
When you turn your heater on, the pilot is activated. When the pilot light is ignited, there shouldn't be any sound. If you've started hearing a popping sound when you turn your heater on, you should take a look at your pilot. While you're watching the pilot, have someone turn the heater on from at the thermostat. If the pilot light pops when it ignites, or the flame flickers, you need to have your heater looked at before the weather gets much colder. While you're watching your pilot light, pay attention to the color. When your heater is working properly, the pilot flame should be a deep blue. If your pilot light is orange or yellow, you have a problem that will need to be taken care of.
Your Heater Sounds Louder Than Before
If you've lived in your home long enough, you know what your heater usually sounds like. In most cases, a well-working heater will give off a low hum while it's running. If your heater has suddenly gotten louder, or has a distinct rattling sound, you've got a problem that will require the assistance of a professional HVAC service technician.