At certain times of the year, it’s nice to do without heating and air conditioning. You crack the windows open wide and let all the fresh air into your house.
But come deep winter, or blazing summer, a properly running HVAC system becomes more than a matter of comfort. It can mean the difference between life and death when the heat or air goes out.
Since HVAC emergency services can cost double or triple the rate of a regular service call, it’s good to know when to call for a true emergency. Here are some guidelines to help you assess the situation.
If you notice the gassy smell of sulfur or rotten eggs, you need to deal with it as soon as possible. That odor signifies you likely have a gas leak, which must be dealt with immediately.
To confirm that you have an issue, you can inspect the pilot light on your furnace. You should see a blue flame. If you see a yellow flame, you must turn off the main gas line to the house and leave immediately. Once you’re out of the house, call your natural gas company as well as an HVAC company.
System Suddenly Stops or Doesn’t Turn On
A system failure isn’t as big an issue when the temps outside are in the 60s or 70s. Most of the time, you can still manage for a while without the AC if it gets up to the average summer high of 83 degrees.
But when temperatures are at the high or low extremes, it becomes an urgent fix, especially if you don’t have somewhere else to go in the meantime. Extreme temps are even a more significant concern if elders, children, or pets are in the home as they have a more challenging time handling them.
While a little condensation on the outside of your unit is normal, leaking water inside your home is not. If you spot any moisture accumulating around the furnace, there could be a clog in the drain line. The water could also be coming from the furnace’s humidifier.
Regardless of the cause, you should call an HVAC repair service if you’re seeing water leakage around your home’s furnace. A professional will know if it should be handled as an emergency.
Hissing, Banging, or Screeching Noises
Your furnace or air conditioner should run relatively quietly. If you suddenly start hearing strange noises like hissing, banging, squealing, or screeching, something is definitely wrong.
It’s best to shut off the system and call an HVAC technician right away. The sooner you can get the problem fixed, the less chance there is of extensive damage and a more significant repair bill.
In most cases, it’s pretty easy to tell when your furnace or air conditioner needs emergency HVAC service. If you have any doubts, it’s always better to err on the side of caution and call a professional. Trying to fix the problem yourself could make things worse and put you and your family at risk.
Smoke or Sparks
If you start to see flames, smoke, or sparks, it’s not the time to take a wait-and-see approach. Especially if your unit is on the older side, these HVAC issues can indicate a component that has worn out or malfunctioned.
Replacing the two most common culprits – fan belt and fan motor – could constitute an emergency repair as their smoke can be toxic. The smoke could also be a sign of an electrical failure, which could result in a short that becomes a fire hazard.
In any case, turn the system off immediately and call a repair service. It could end up being a simple repair, but these are also symptoms of the need for a new system.
Not Sure if It’s a True HVAC Emergency?
If your heating or cooling system struggles to moderate your home’s temperature, it’s likely time to call the professionals for an air conditioning or furnace repair. But whether or not it’s an emergency depends on several factors, from who’s in the house to the temperatures outside. Managing some discomfort for a few hours to get a regular service call might be acceptable over paying emergency rates.
Not sure if you have an HVAC emergency?
If you’re in the Pittsburgh, PA area, contact us to discuss your HVAC problems and how quickly they need to be fixed.