Hearing your furnace squeal when it first turns on can be a little nerve-wracking. The squeal may make your ears ring, but then before you know it, the noise disappears. You might then think everything is okay, but sure enough, when the furnace turns on again, it makes that same, short-lived, squealing noise. What's going on? Chances are, you have a torn belt in the blower motor.
What is the blower belt?
Also known as the fan belt, this is a part located in the motor that drives your furnace's blower unit, or whole home fan. The fan belt essentially wraps around the motor and around the fan to allow the fan to spin. Usually, the fan belt is made from rubberized fabric. This material is tough, but it is not impervious to damage. Over the lifespan of a furnace, it is not unusual for the fan belt to become frayed and torn.
What are some other signs your fan belt is damaged?
The squealing noise you hear when your furnace kicks on is usually the most obvious sign of a torn fan belt. It usually stops once the blower motor gets up to speed since the fast spinning is enough to keep the frayed pieces of the belt closer to the rest of the belt. Eventually, you may notice a fainter squeal throughout the entire heating cycle.
If you continue to operate your furnace with a torn blower belt, you may notice a smell of burning rubber during operation. This smell is usually the strongest close to the furnace.
What should you do about a torn fan belt?
It's usually safe to keep operating your furnace with a partially torn fan belt as long as you do not yet smell burning rubber. However, you do want to call a furnace repair technician sooner rather than later.
A furnace repair team will generally remove the old fan belt and put a new one into place. Fan belts do need to be specifically sized to fit the unit they are installed in. So, your furnace repair company might need to order a specialized fan belt and wait for it to come in before they are able to repair your unit.
If your furnace is making squealing noises when it turns on, there's no need to be too alarmed. This does mean there's something wrong with your furnace, but a torn fan belt is a fairly common issue that a furnace repair contractor can easily address.
To learn more, contact a heating service in your area.