No matter how new or advanced the heating system, the amount of moving parts and general usage necessitates regular maintenance. Every commercial heating system will eventually need maintenance services and repairs, but knowing when you need those repairs can be difficult, especially given the size and scope of your commercial HVAC system. Let’s take a look at some common signs that you need commercial heating repairs on your equipment.

1. Hearing strange noises in your vents

Most heaters will make some amount of noise as they operate, but they shouldn’t be excessively loud or producing any strange, unnatural noises. Unfortunately, noises from your heater can be easy to ignore because they may not actually get in your way or have an immediate effect on your heating system.

Still, sudden strange noises can point to larger problems or be a harbinger for major repairs to come. Sudden buzzing noises could point to electrical issues, while screeching could mean a worn-down belt. Popping or banging could potentially be dangerous. Just keep your ears open and take note of any new noises when you turn your heater on.

2. Smelling something burning or other strange odors

It’s normal to smell a bit of burning coming from your vents when you first turn on your heater in the winter. This is usually a result of dust accumulating on the heating elements within your equipment from non-usage. The dust burns off, resulting in the burnt smell.

Of course, that smell should dissipate within the first few times you turn on your heater. If you are well into winter and still getting some strange odors from your heater, you may need some commercial heating services. This could point to something overheating or another malfunction.

Other unpleasant odors could point to other problems. Leaking refrigerant may smell like ether. Any mold or mildew buildup can produce a musty odor. A rotting smell could point to a rat or other small creature meeting their untimely demise in your heating unit. Bad smells can be hard to ignore and may point to some serious issues with your HVAC equipment.

3. Cool air coming from your vents
Cool or even lukewarm air coming out of your vents when your heater is on is one of the most obvious signs that something is wrong. This could be caused by a bad thermostat, but if there aren’t any thermostat issues, cooling air that’s coming from your heater could mean:

Leaky ducts
Fuel combustion problems
Loss of pressure
Reduced airflow
Malfunctioning heating elements

4. Fluctuating energy bills

Your monthly utility bills will naturally go up in the winter. It means your heater is running, and based on changes in the weather, you may experience some higher utility bills than normal. Still, it’s a good idea to compare your current utility bills with the bills from last year. If you are experiencing higher energy usage without a correlating drop in temperature or higher demand on your heater, you may want to get your heating equipment looked at. An unexplained increase in your heating bill suggests that it could be losing efficiency, which could mean anything from general maintenance to a full replacement.

5. Short cycling

Short cycling simply refers to short run times followed by short off times, which results in your heater constantly turning on and off in short cycles. Aside from the annoyance of hearing your heater turning on and off sporadically, short cycling can keep your place of business from actually getting warm. The short cycles prevent the air from running long enough to actually heat up. Short cycling also requires much more energy every time your heater on and off and back on again.

Short cycling can be caused by a variety of factors, not all of them involving the heater. A faulty thermostat should be the first thing a technician checks. A dirty air filter can also restrict air flow, which puts extra pressure on your entire HVAC system. Corroded sensors or foreign objects in the vents can also contribute to short cycling and general inefficiencies, affecting the overall indoor air quality.

Commercial heating systems are complex and may need repairs for a wide variety of reasons. Knowing what to look for not only ensures a lower utility bill and greater energy efficiency, but also prevents more serious, more costly issues down the line.