Placing the commercial heating equipment on the roof of your building helps dampen the noise produced by boilers and gas furnaces, but sometimes those noises manage to travel down the ducts nonetheless and become audible inside the building. Instead of just learning to put up with annoying noises coming from your heating equipment, treat them as signs of damage and call a repair technician for an inspection. These five common commercial heating sounds are particularly likely to be symptoms of serious wear and tear.
Well-maintained commercial furnaces often make quiet noises that can sound like grinding when listened to closely, but you shouldn't hear those kinds of noises coming down through the ducts. If you hear a distinct grinding noise from inside the building instead of just when you're next to the equipment, the bearings on your air handler's motor are running low on lubricant and rubbing against the rest of the metal housing around them. Waiting too long to have the bearings serviced or replaced will result in a seized air handler that won't move heat into your building until it's replaced.
Healthy commercial heating equipment rumbles quietly during normal operation, but you'll notice the sound is even and doesn't rise or fall in speed or volume. Rumbling that is uneven or gets louder as time passes is definitely a sign you need maintenance or repairs. Rumbling noises can indicate
- Dirty burners that are no longer supplying the right amount of fuel to the combustion chamber
- Worn out ignition components that make it hard for the fuel to ignite without a loud, booming explosion
- Damaged or aging oil pumps in oil-powered systems, especially if the noise only occurs when the equipment is shutting off or turning on.
Rumbling will usually occur for at least a few seconds at a time, even when it's intermittent. If you're hearing a single short boom instead at random intervals, there's likely some kind of fuel leak allowing gas or oil to build up excessively before it ignites. Booming is even more serious than rumbling, and you should shut off the equipment until it can be repaired to prevent explosion and fire risks.
Most business owners would categorize the normal noises made by commercial heating equipment as a loud humming. However, sometimes a high-pitched and noticeable hum starts coming out of the vents as the fans in the system work harder and harder to move air around. When a distinctive humming or even whining interrupts your work day, call in a repair technician to check the air filters for debris that would block the usual air flow. If your filters are fine, it's likely time to service or replace the fans themselves.
Commercial heating equipment will only produce noticeable clanging or banging noises when two parts that aren't supposed to touch start bumping together. Since a steady and loud clanging could mean an essential part is loose inside the equipment, it's best to turn off the heating system until a repair technician arrives to minimize further damage. Don't attempt to open the unit yourself to investigate since a part could come flying out and potentially injure you or your employees.
Finally, remember that boiler heating systems make a very different set of noises than most gas or oil-powered commercial furnaces. Most boiler noises are impossible to hear from inside the building because of the lack of duct work to transmit sounds over long distances, but the pipes that move the hot water to the radiators or baseboard heaters can still emit an audible bubbling if you listen carefully. These bubbles are almost always caused by air trapped in the water lines, which is easily purged by a technician from a company like Mercury Tec.