Your home’s heating system is essential to keeping your family warm during the winter. However, when it goes down, you need to be able to identify and resolve any problems quickly.
Hubbard Mechanical makes it easy to identify and repair independently, while others require professional help from an experienced heating technician..
Whether your furnace is gas or electric, it must be powered to run. If it is, your system will work better. Some systems require a pilot light, while others have built-in ignition sensors to start up and shut down independently. In either case, these devices can fail due to several factors, such as a dirty sensor or ignition, lack of fuel, or other problems.
A few simple troubleshooting steps can help you determine what’s going on with your system or, at least, whether you need a professional to help you resolve the issue. First, locate the power switch and ensure it’s in the ON position. That is especially important if your system uses batteries rather than hard-wired to the city power grid.
Another simple check involves the thermostat itself. If it’s programmable, see that the date and time are set properly and that the heating mode is selected to “ON.” It’s also possible that you forgot to change the settings from COOLING to HEATING after summer.
Finally, if your furnace is gas, ensure the valve is open. It’s located outside, near the house side of the natural gas line. If the gas isn’t flowing through this valve, it could mean a problem with the line itself or that your utility company has experienced a service interruption in your area. If this is the case, you’ll need to contact your gas company to find out more information and schedule a repair visit. If the gas flow is good, you should next check to ensure your circuit breaker isn’t tripped. If it is, firmly push it back into the ON position.
If your furnace isn’t heating up, it could be a problem with your thermostat. As discussed in our article about common heating problems, your thermostat is responsible for sensing the room’s temperature and telling your furnace when to turn on or off. However, if your system isn’t functioning correctly, it can pick up the wrong temperature, which leads to your heater producing heat you don’t need or turning off when you still do.
If you’re dealing with a non-working heater, double-check your thermostat settings. Make sure the heating mode is set to “HEAT” and that it’s not on “COOL,” “HOLD,” or “VACATION” mode. Next, check the pilot light to see if it’s lit. If not, remove the access panel from the furnace, find the pilot light assembly, and use a lighter or match to relight it. Once the pilot light is on, your system will begin to work.
Another possible reason for your furnace not heating up is if the gas line to the system is blocked or clogged. The gas valve must be on for your system to function, so if it isn’t, the ignitor/sensor won’t be able to ignite the gas needed to power your furnace.
Finally, your ductwork may be clogged, limiting the amount of warm air delivered to certain rooms in your home. To resolve this, first make sure your vents and registers are free of obstructions, like furniture or rugs. Additionally, if your ducts are old and have gaps between sections, you can easily seal these with special metal duct tape (just be careful not to use regular cloth duct tape, as this will quickly degrade and lead to leaks). If none of these solutions are helpful, we recommend calling a professional to look at your heating system.
If your furnace keeps running even though the room temperature is warmer than you want, it may be time to call in a professional. The good news is that this problem often has a simple fix.
First, make sure your thermostat fan setting is not set to ON instead of AUTO; if it is, the blower will continue circulating air 24/7, and your heating system won’t turn off until the room temperature has dropped significantly.
Also, ensure your pilot light is still lit; if not, check to see if gas flows into your furnace. If the pilot light isn’t lit or is yellow, it could mean carbon monoxide is leaking into your home; this is extremely dangerous and should be dealt with immediately by a professional.
Another possible cause of this problem is a dirty air filter. Dirty filters prevent your system from being able to get the air it needs, so it has to run longer to warm up your house. This extra work can cause your furnace to overheat and burn out the fan.
Finally, a faulty capacitor can cause your furnace to refuse to turn on. If this is the case, you must replace it with a new one. To do so, you must turn off the power to your furnace at the circuit breaker and remove the thermostat cover to access the wiring. Next, using a screwdriver, you must carefully loosen and tighten the connections to your furnace motor. After that, you can replace the cover and restore power to your furnace. Once your thermostat is back in working order, the blower should no longer refuse to turn off.
If your furnace isn’t turning on, you should first check the power switch. Often, this is located on the side of your unit and closely resembles a light switch. It may be accidentally switched off during a cleaning or dusting routine, so make sure the switch is flipped to the “on” position.
You should also check the fuse or circuit breaker to ensure it hasn’t blown or been tripped. These are both easy fixes you can do independently before calling a professional. To check the fuse, pull it out of the panel and inspect it with a flashlight. If it is burnt out, replace it with an identical fuse from a hardware store and close the panel. If the breaker has been tripped, you must reset it by turning it completely off and then on again.
Another possibility is that your thermostat settings need to be corrected. Ensure the system is set to HEAT mode and the temperature setting is higher than the ambient room temperature. If you’re using a programmable thermostat, check that the date, time, and settings are correct.
Finally, if using a gas furnace, ensure the pilot light is lit. If it isn’t, follow the instructions in your user manual for shining the pilot light. If you’ve checked all these things and still can’t get your furnace to turn on, it may be time to call a technician. But before you do, try resetting the thermostat and increasing the temperature setting by a few degrees. That might be enough to start the heating process and get your home warm again!
When a furnace won’t turn on, it can be very frustrating. However, before you call in a professional, take a deep breath and check some easy solutions that will likely fix the problem for good.
First, verify that the gas is on. You can do this by examining the street-side valve and internal house-side valve. If the valves are open, then your system should be receiving gas. If they are not, it’s time to call a technician to help you evaluate and repair a draft inducer motor, pressure switch, or circuit board problem.
Then, examine the thermostat to see if it’s on and set to heat. It must be flipped to the “on” position if it isn’t. These switches are not uncommon to accidentally get flipped during dusting or other household cleaning chores. Be sure to also compare the temperature setting to the room’s ambient temperature, and make sure that it is set a few degrees higher than the ambient temperature.
If the above steps do not resolve the problem, inspect the breaker box for tripped breakers. If your furnace’s breaker is tripped, flip it back to the “on” position. If fuses power your furnace, then be sure to replace any burnt-out ones. Power overloads, changing the thermostat without cutting off power, and other problems can burn out these fuses, stopping your furnace from starting. Replace them with identical fuses from the hardware store and see if this solves the problem. If the furnace doesn’t start, you should call a technician to assess and repair your unit.