Winter HVAC Warning Signs: Watch, Listen and Smell

The last thing anyone in New Jersey wants in the middle of winter is calling for an HVAC repair. Not only is there potential for days of indoor discomfort, but a malfunctioning furnace could pose electrical problems or even carbon monoxide poisoning.

Keep in mind that your HVAC is a system. There are several components that need to work together in order for it all to function properly no matter the season or weather. When it’s a new or relatively new system—less than 10 years old—chances are a simple repair will do the trick.

However, there are some key warning signs that all homeowners, regardless of the age of the system, should pay attention to in order to avoid catastrophic repair bills or replacement of major components in the middle of winter.


• One culprit is the thermostat. If your thermostat is offering wildly varying feedback or is simply making the house too cold or too hot, then there’s an obvious disconnect between it and the rest of the system. Or the thermostat itself may have simply given up the ghost. Older thermostats generally provide very basic functionality. The newer programmable and “smart” thermostats are always an improvement if you suspect your current thermostat is giving false information to your system.

• Certainly, an obvious problem is noticeable if cold air blows when the furnace is running. This could be a thermostat issue, pilot light concern, a blower motor or even something more sinister. A quick look at your pilot light or listening for the unit to offer its usual sounds of air whooshing through the vents offers an easy diagnosis. If things sound or feel out of their norm, then it’s especially critical to call Temp Control and let our professionals perform diagnostics.

• Another test of your sensory skills comes with smell. It’s common to smell a little burning when you first fire up your furnace in the fall or early winter. That’s simply dust that has settled on heating elements or elsewhere in the system. But if you notice that smell deep into the furnace season, then you might be facing a more serious issue that requires the immediate attention of an HVAC professional.

• Keep an eye on your power bills. Electricity and gas rates can always go up with demand, but more often than not, increased electricity bills indicate your system is working harder than usual to maintain comfort levels. This could be a malfunctioning part of the system or it could be the tell-tale signs of an older system simply not being able to do its job efficiently anymore.

This is not a comprehensive list, but this represents some of the more common concerns during the winter months. Remembering to do basic maintenance like filter replacement is always necessary. Cleaning return vents and registers, additionally, contributes to a happy and healthy system. But if you suspect any part of it might be failing, winter is also a great time to contact Temp Control for a routine checkup of the system