Top Signs Your Furnace Is Overheating

image of an overheating furnace

Is your furnace exhibiting unusual behavior? Do not dismiss the signs as minor quirks. They could indicate a more serious issue, such as an overheating furnace.  Take immediate action before the situation escalates. Share your observations with an HVAC contractor and arrange for a visit as soon as possible to address the problem.

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Top Signs Of An Overheating Furnace

An overheating furnace poses significant risks, including the potential for carbon monoxide poisoning and leaving your family exposed to severe winter conditions. The good news is that spotting the warning signs is relatively easy if you remain attentive. Stay vigilant and promptly enlist the services of an HVAC technician if you observe any of the following issues in your home:

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1. A Persistent Burning Aroma

image of homeowner plugging nose due to odor from overheated furnace

Have you detected a burning smell? Your initial reaction might be to rush to the kitchen and inspect the stove. However, if you don’t find any issues, turn your attention to other heat sources, such as the furnace. If the odor is more pronounced in its vicinity and the scent disperses quickly, there is likely no cause for concern. It may simply be the result of burning dust accumulated during a prolonged period of inactivity. However, if the odor persists for over 30 minutes, you must take it seriously. Prolonged exposure to excessive heat could potentially damage components, and there may even be a risk of wires beginning to melt. 

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2. An Unusual Humming Noise 

Heating systems typically produce some noise. With time, homeowners become accustomed to the usual sounds their furnaces make, such as a consistent hum. This is perfectly normal. However, unusual clacking or banging sounds are not part of the regular repertoire. If you hear any unusual furnace noises, conduct a thorough investigation right away. If these noises grow louder over time, take swift action, as they could indicate that the furnace’s motor is operating under excessive stress. The components may be on the verge of malfunction. 

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3. Sudden System Shutdown

image of homeowner feeling chilly due to furnace system shutdown

Furnaces are equipped with built-in safety sensors to detect excessive heat. When triggered, these sensors initiate an automatic shutdown, allowing the system time to cool down before restarting. However, it is essential to note that this issue will continue until the root cause is addressed. If you observe all these warning signs, inform your HVAC contractor immediately to get guidance and address the underlying problem.

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Common Causes OF Overheating Furnace

Furnace overheating does not occur randomly. It happens due to specific conditions. This issue develops gradually until the symptoms become too prominent to overlook. Each cause has its corresponding remedy. Here are some of the most prevalent reasons for an overheating furnace:

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1. Restricted HVAC Airflow

image of an hvac contractor replacing home filter

Hot airflow from the furnace first passes through the filter and then moves through the ducts, ultimately reaching various rooms in the house. Any blockage along this pathway can impede the airflow. This can cause heat to accumulate, as there is no avenue for it to dissipate. Should the temperature exceed the furnace’s maximum operating limit, it will lead to the emergence of the symptoms we discussed above.

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2. Dirty Interior

Airborne contaminants have the potential to deposit on the surfaces of internal furnace components gradually. Certain components are more susceptible to dirt accumulation than others. For instance, the blower motor, responsible for generating heat while spinning the fan blades, becomes less effective at cooling down when dirty. Furnace coils coated in grime can also struggle to transfer heat effectively. 

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3. Short Cycling

Short cycling is when the HVAC system rapidly starts and stops. These short cycles prevent the system from completing a full operational cycle as intended. This leads to stress and premature wear on motors and other crucial parts. In newer systems, short cycling often results from a mismatch in size. In older systems, issues like thermostat malfunction or furnace overheating can contribute to short cycling. 

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4. Lack Of HVAC Maintenance

image of a dirty furnace filter and homeowner replacing it

Mechanical components are susceptible to the effects of wear and tear. If any of these parts malfunction, it can lead to overheating. For example, a stressed fan blower can short circuit, resulting in diminished airflow and increased internal temperature. Consistent HVAC maintenance allows technicians to identify failing components in advance and replace them before they escalate into more severe issues.

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5. End Of Furnace Service Life

Overheating can also indicate that your furnace is approaching the end of its lifespan. In older heating systems, there may be numerous failing parts and underlying issues. Continuously replacing these parts, coupled with increased fuel consumption, may not be the most cost-effective approach. It may be wiser to invest in a new furnace for a fresh start. 

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How An HVAC Contractor Fixes An Overheating Furnace

Attempting to open and repair a furnace without the necessary experience can be dangerous. It is better to leave the task to a skilled HVAC technician, particularly when dealing with issues like overheating. For overheating problems or other furnace-related issues, turn off the power and immediately contact a professional for emergency repairs. HVAC technicians have the expertise to diagnose the problem and provide viable solutions swiftly.

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How Long Does A Furnace Last?

Typically, a furnace is expected to have a lifespan of approximately 15 years. Neglecting maintenance can lead to premature failure. Conscientious upkeep can extend its longevity by several years. 

When deciding whether to repair or replace an aging furnace, consider the costs involved. Swift and economical part replacements can be manageable, but pricier repairs can strain your budget. Ask yourself if the repair expenses are surpassing half the cost of a new furnace. If yes, opting for a system replacement can offer benefits such as enhanced energy efficiency and reduced heating expenses.

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The Importance of Annual Furnace Maintenance

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As a homeowner, you can perform simple furnace maintenance tasks like routinely replacing the air filter and decluttering the area around the furnace. For more intricate maintenance tasks, schedule an annual furnace maintenance appointment with an HVAC contractor. This comprehensive service includes a thorough inspection and tune-up of the system. Professional furnace maintenance is a proactive measure that prevents most issues, optimizes efficiency, boosts performance, and extends the life of your furnace.

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Do not allow your furnace to overheat for prolonged periods. It can result in costly system damage and potentially dangerous carbon monoxide emissions. If your furnace is shutting down, accompanied by a burning odor and loud noises, contact an HVAC professional right away. Leave it to the experts to investigate your concerns and address the issue. They have access to specialized tools and readily available parts, allowing them to resolve the problem immediately. With their assistance, your household can quickly return to normal comfort and safety. 

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Call Wilcox Energy For All Of Your HVAC Requirements


At Wilcox Energy, we take pride in delivering top-tier heating and cooling services to the shoreline towns of Connecticut. Our HVAC team comprises highly qualified and certified technicians who excel in providing top-notch HVAC repairs, tune-ups, installations, and replacements. 

Wilcox Energy is committed to offering the most competitive service rates in the region. Our maintenance and tune-up services are designed to enhance comfort, improve energy efficiency, and reduce HVAC expenses. If you need HVAC repairs or replacements, we can recommend the best option for your home while sticking to your budget. We stand behind all our professional work with a satisfaction guarantee to ensure your satisfaction. To schedule an appointment, don’t hesitate to contact Wilcox Energy today. We also provide complimentary, in-home estimates for your convenience.

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For more information about our HVAC services, be sure to contact Wilcox Energy. You can click here to contact us, or you can call us at (860) 399-6218 to find out more. We offer a full line of heating and cooling repairs, maintenance services, and installations. Click the link to view our service area.

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