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It may be summer and hot in most parts of the country, but a pre-winter furnace check is always a good idea. However, if you've turned on your furnace only to hear a bunch of rattling sounds, you need help before you turn it on again.
Rattling can be caused by a minor issue, or it could be an indication that something is very wrong with the furnace. In either case, you need to call a repair company quickly.
Something Got Stuck
Your furnace system encompasses more than just the contraption in the cabinet in your house. It includes vents and ducts, and the screens on the openings of the vents (leading outside) can sometimes break. That lets leaves and twigs drop in. Those can drop into the body of the furnace and burn up quickly, or they can get stuck somewhere along the way and rattle whenever the system turns on. You'll need to get that screen replaced (and the culprit removed) if that's what's happening.
Something's Simply Loose
A part in the furnace can always come loose. As the furnace operates, it vibrates because of the motor, and that can make bolts gradually come loose over time. Solving this one is straightforward -- find the loose part and tighten it -- but you need a professional furnace repair person to do it. If you hear additional squealing or scraping sounds with the rattling, the blower wheel might be the culprit.
However, you still need to get the whole system checked. It's always possible that more than one part is loose, and that other parts are coming loose and just not to the point of rattling yet. Better to have someone inspect and fix everything at once.
Something Could Be Dangerously Wrong
Occasionally the cause of rattling is not simple and not minor. If the rattling occurs when you turn the furnace on, or a loud bang occurs, you could have a cracked heat exchanger, and that's a carbon monoxide risk. Turn off the furnace, and do not turn it on again until it's fixed. Call a repair company immediately because this is an emergency.
Each year, have the furnace checked for general problems and for potential carbon monoxide leaks. Remember that carbon monoxide is silent and odorless, and it can be deadly. If the furnace is generally fine and safe, you still want to tighten up loose parts so that nothing breaks during winter.
Contact a company like Aggressive Mechanical Contractors, Inc. for more information and assistance.