Furnace Not Working: What Should I Do?

What to do if furnace is not working

Heating Furnace Troubleshooting Steps

As the cool fall months get closer and closer, homeowners may want to confirm that their furnaces are still in good working order. Sometimes after sitting idle for a few months, you may find that your furnace doesn’t work properly, or at all. There are lots of reasons why a furnace malfunctions, and not every problem is cause to contact an expert to perform repairs. Before you call for an HVAC technician to make repairs on your furnace, you should address some common furnace issues that you can likely fix yourself. Below you’ll find a detailed list of numerous furnace problems and how you can solve them.

Change the Furnace Filter

Not every furnace issue causes the entire mechanism to cease functioning. In many cases, a minor issue will cause a furnace to function at less than full capacity. In these cases, you will likely notice things like inadequate air flow from your vents, uneven heating throughout your house and even a spike in your energy bill costs due to the extra strain on your furnace. If you notice any of these issues starting to occur with your furnace function, it may be time to take a look at the filter.

Your furnace filter is a necessary component in your furnace that helps keep the air in your home from becoming too dirty. The filter traps things like dust particles, hair and other contaminants that can otherwise pollute your indoor air. Without a properly functioning air filter, you, your loved ones and any other occupants of your home will be exposed to these airborne contaminants, which can potentially lead to health issues. In most cases, things like dust particles will make breathing indoors more difficult, and can lead to chronic illness. In the worst cases, young children exposed to air contaminants on a regular basis can develop breathing issues such as asthma. To avoid health problems like these, and to keep your furnace running smoothly, it is important to change your furnace filter every three months at the very least.

Intake and Exhaust Blockages

A furnace can only function properly if it is able to intake air from the outside while simultaneously returning air to the outdoors. This circulation keeps your indoor air from becoming too stale, as new air is able to replace old air. Not all furnaces are equipped with exhausts that pump air directly outdoors. Some older models push air out through rooftop vents or chimneys, but in the case of newer more up to date furnaces, you’ll find an intake and an exhaust located on the side of your home.

Since the intake and exhaust for your new furnace happen to be located at the side of your home, it means that debris, leaves and even insects can more easily become trapped in the openings. Similar to the way a clogged furnace filter prevents adequate air flow, a blocked vent or air intake will make it difficult for your furnace to properly circulate air throughout your home. If you have recently changed your filter, but are still experiencing air flow issues, you should take a look at the outdoor exhaust and intake to make sure there are no blockages there. If you happen to find some debris obstructing either the exhaust or the intake, try your best to clear it from the opening. Sometimes blockages are deeper inside the system, and in those cases it is inadvisable to try and clear the debris yourself.

Check Thermostats

A major reason why you may have problems getting your furnace to work has little to do with the furnace itself. Every modern furnace comes equipped with a thermostat that controls things like temperature settings, the furnace fan, and when the furnace gets turned on. If your thermostat is not working properly, or has somehow become disconnected from the furnace, you will likely find it difficult to get your furnace to run the way you want. Thermostats can be tricky, but there are some issues that can easily be fixed by simply checking a few components of the thermostat.

A large number of thermostats currently on the market today come equipped with batteries. The batteries keep the thermostat functioning, even in a power outage, so homeowners don’t have to constantly reset their programmable settings. Many thermostats rely entirely on batteries to function in the first place, which is why it is important to always make sure your thermostat has fresh batteries. You should keep an eye on the thermostat screen every few days and be on the lookout for a low battery icon that may start to flash. As soon as you see this icon, be sure to immediately replace the batteries so your furnace continues to work without interruption.

Your thermostat settings are also important when it comes to keeping your furnace running properly. It may seem a little obvious, but homeowners sometimes forget to confirm that their thermostat settings are properly calibrated. If your furnace isn’t coming on when it gets cooler outside, make sure the thermostat is in fact set to the ‘heat’ function, and the temperature setting is at a level that will cause the furnace to activate. You may also want to consult your thermostat manual to troubleshoot any problems if you have trouble when attempting to change any settings.

Check Power Supply

Like any major appliance in your home, your furnace requires a constant power supply to continue functioning. Many furnaces are equipped with a built in shut off switch that prevents it from drawing power when it is not in use. Some homeowners will disengage their furnace power during the hot spring and summer months in order to avoid wasting energy. While this is a good way to ensure you don’t consume any necessary power by running your furnace accidentally, it is easy to forget whether or not the furnace power is engaged months after you have switched it off. Before activating your furnace via your thermostat, be sure to confirm that the power is actually switched on.

Sometimes a furnace won’t be equipped with a toggle switch that you can use to turn it on. There are models that contain a housing for an electrical fuse. If your furnace fails to activate, it may be because the fuse connection is blown and needs to be replaced. Typically the fuse is located in a small metal housing on the side of the furnace. If you discover the fuse looks black and burned, you may want to contact an HVAC technician to safely replace it, and confirm there isn’t a large issue with the power supply to the furnace.

Check Fuel Supply

Its definitely no secret that the primary function for any furnace is to generate heat and circulate it throughout your home. If a furnace is unable to generate heat, it usually has something to do with either the ignition itself, or the fuel supply. If your furnace is unable to ignite, there are few things and untrained homeowner can do to fix it. Many older furnaces can have their pilot light re-lit, but newer models are often more complicated. If there is no issue with the furnace ignition, there may be an interruption to the fuel supply to the furnace.

Most furnaces use natural gas to generate heat. Natural gas is among the safest and cheapest fuels available, and is used to power a number of household appliances such as stoves, ovens and of course furnaces. Every home that has a natural gas supply will also be equipped with a natural gas meter located outside. Typically there is a shut off valve on the gas supply lines that are found connected to your gas meter. If for any reason the valve is closed, then gas won’t be able to reach your furnace, and it won’t be able to generate heat, even if the rest of the system is on and functioning properly. Simply open the valve to keep the supply of gas running to the furnace. If however you open the valve and smell gas indoors (smells like rotten eggs or sulphur), immediately shut off the valve and contact a licensed technician to perform repairs.

If your furnace is still not working after checking all of the possible issues listed above, it is likely time to contact an experienced HVAC technician to perform repairs. At High Demand Heating, our team of HVAC professionals can quickly assess the cause of any furnace issue and make proper repairs in no time, so you can enjoy warm comfort in your home as soon as possible. To find out more about our furnace repair services, contact High Demand Heating today!