What Should You Do If Your Furnace Is Making a Squealing Noise?

You rely on your furnace to keep your home warm and cozy. If it stops blowing out air, then you know something is wrong. But what if it starts making a squealing noise while still blowing out warm air? Here's what you need to know about this common problem.

What is causing the squealing?

In almost all cases, squealing in a furnace comes from one of two problems with the blower motor — which is the component that powers the fan that blows warm air through your ducts. The blower motor might have a loose ball bearing, or the belt may be fraying or damaged. Neither of these issues is an outright emergency, but they should be repaired — or else, your blower motor may fail completely.

Can you keep running the furnace?

If it's 60-70 degrees outside and you're just running the furnace to keep your home a little cozier, then you may want to turn it off until the HVAC repair specialist arrives. The more you run your furnace in this state, the worse the damage will get — which may result in more expensive repairs. On the other hand, if it's 20 degrees outside and your home will be too cold if you turn the furnace off, then keep running it. The worst thing that will happen is that the blower motor will fail, and your HVAC specialist can then just replace the motor. Chances are, everything will keep working okay until your HVAC technician arrives.

How long will the furnace take to repair?

If your HVAC technician just needs to replace a ball bearing or the belt, the repairs should only take a few hours. Your heater will be working well (and quietly) again by the end of the day. If they have to replace the whole blower motor, the repairs might take a bit longer because they might need to order a motor and wait for it to arrive. Still, your heater should be fixed within a few days.

How can you keep this from happening again?

Worn ball bearings and belts are a natural consequence of aging for some furnaces. However, you can decrease the chances of this problem popping up again by changing your air filter more often. It's easier for the blower to push air through a clean filter, so it suffers less wear and tear. Changing the filter every two months is a good starting point.