Signs You May Have Furnace Damage
In general, if you have a furnace that is more than 16 years old it is likely that it is going to have some defects. If you have a new furnace don't get comfortable and think that it can't happen to you. Even a furnace that is reasonably new can still break down if the right conditions exist. Cracks and signs of corrosion throughout the furnace body (and especially in the pipes) are obvious indicators that you have a problem with your furnace, but you also need to watch out for less subtle symptoms like a sudden change in the smell of the flame. This can be a sign of a problem that requires immediate attention.
Likewise, large amounts of soot building up around the furnace isn’t exactly what you would call “normal”. Yes most furnaces and other heating devices regularly accumulate dirt and grime but a sudden jump in accumulation could indicate a problem. These dark traces of carbon buildup can actually mean that there is damage to the furnace’s heat exchanger or a malfunction in the burners. What constitutes a “normal” accumulation of soot may vary from one furnace model to another, so it’s best to treat any soot buildup with suspicion. Regular maintenance will help you and your technician become familiar with what is normal for your particular unit.
Flickering flames are also possible symptoms of a faulty burner and/or heat exchanger, although such a sign could also mean that the furnace simply needs to be cleaned. Regular maintenance is very important to the efficiency of your furnace. However, if any member of your household suffers from nausea, headaches, or disorientation, take it as a sign that the furnace might be emitting harmful pollutants like carbon monoxide, sulfur dioxide, and nitrogen dioxide by way of the cracks in the heat exchanger. Call someone immediately, open the windows to air out your home and leave until it can be checked out.