An emergency with the heat not working at your home is cause for concern – especially if it’s accompanied by other worrying signs of serious damage. Here’s what to do when you fear the worst about your heating system.
Step 1: Understand Which Problems Require Immediate Attention
One of the first things that homeowners wonder when their HVAC systems stop working is, “Is this actually an emergency, or can it wait a day or two?” Here are the symptoms that probably require an immediate phone call to a professional:
- Your heating system is blowing cold air: First check the basics, like making sure the furnace pilot light is still on. If you can’t see anything wrong, call a professional immediately before your house gets too cold.
- Frozen pipes: While frozen pipes in Atlanta, Georgia, and nearby areas aren’t common, they can happen when temperatures drop below freezing. Because so many homes in Northern Georgia aren’t insulated in the same way as Northern states, an unusual cold snap can cause a problem very quickly. When water in frozen pipes freezes enough, it expands to more than the pipes and valves can handle, causing larger ruptures and leaks. While not strictly a heating problem, this is a massive emergency that requires quick action. Insulation wrapping can help prevent frozen pipes, as can turning cold water faucets on a slow drip overnight.
- Gas odors in the house: Natural gas is laced with a compound that smells like sulfur or rotten eggs, so it’s easy to notice. Since a gas leak can build up to a massive explosion, it’s very important that you leave your house immediately and get help fast.
- Leaks around a boiler: While much less common these days, if a building gets heat via a boiler, then puddles can indicate a boiler leak – a serious problem that needs attention right away.
- A yellow flame in your furnace: The flame in your furnace should always be blue. If the flame is fully yellow, that means that the gas is not burning properly and that something is seriously wrong with the furnace. It’s a common sign of a carbon monoxide leak as well, so turning off the furnace is an important first step (more on this below).
- Loud bangs or growling sounds: These are often signs that your firebox or fan motor may be damaged. It’s sometimes accompanied by smoke. That indicates serious damage and potentially a fire hazard.
- Electrical issues: Tripping breakers, damaged wires and sparks are all signs of dangerous electrical problems that could also cause fires inside your walls. Time to call an expert!
Step 2: Shut Down the HVAC System
If you have determined that you need to take immediate action for your furnace or heating system, start by shutting it down entirely. If your system uses gas you should shut off the pilot light, and you may need to switch off the furnace gas valve as well (look in your owner’s manual for more information if possible).
Then, take a look at your breaker box and look for breakers marked “furnace” or “HVAC,” and shut them off to remove electrical power.
Step 3: Take Any Appropriate Safety Measures
Sometimes particular emergencies also require you to take additional actions to keep you, your family and your house safe. Here are a few examples:
- Your carbon monoxide detector went off: Carbon monoxide is infamous for its ability to remain undetected, slowly replacing the oxygen in the air of a house. If it looks like you may have a leak, get everyone (and pets) out of the house. Call a professional that can detect and repair leaks or other problems before you move back in.
- You smell gas: The sulfuric smell of natural gas is an extreme warning sign. Do not try to clear out the air by opening windows or your garage. Instead, get everyone out of the house immediately. Use a mobile device to look up your gas power provider: They should have an emergency number for reporting leaks.
- Your pipes froze and cracked: In this case, you’ve taken a look and confirmed that your frozen pipes are leaking badly. It’s very important that you find the water line for your house and shut it off until you get help. Massive water leaks like this can cause widespread rot and lingering issues like mold growth, which can be very expensive to repair.
- There was a minor explosion or burned area around the furnace: Keep people away, and contact your local fire department if the damage looks dangerous. It can be hard to spot fires that may have begun burning in your walls or roof from a furnace accident until it’s too late, so don’t assume everything is fine. If you have an at-home fire extinguisher, keep it handy and continue to monitor the situation.
Step 4: Find a Reliable Service with 24-Hour Repairs
Now that you’ve made sure everyone is safe, contact a professional company with technicians that have the training to deal with your specific problem, and can show up immediately. Companies like Gainesville Mechanical specialize in emergency heating services with 24/7 service to help address emergencies when they happen. Gainesville Mechanical also uses radio-dispatched trucks that can head over at once so technicians get there ASAP.
You should also look for heating repair in Georgia that guarantees no extra fees for desperate calls. Gainesville Mechanical will not add on any overtime charges for work of this kind, and offers a 100% satisfaction guarantee for the repairs.
Step 5: Bring Out the Blankets
Finally, even with emergency heating repair it could take a couple of hours or longer for the problem to be resolved. If it’s in the evening, things could get a little chilly during the winter months. Bring out some extra blankets and sweaters to deal with the cold and wait for new results. If there is significant damage down to a part of your house, this is a great time to carefully document the damage, take pictures and contact your insurance company so you can start a claim.