Is your furnace not working? Are you left you cold and confused? Sometimes the fix is simple and can be done yourself. Here is a list of several common furnace problems and some tips on how you might be able to fix them. Note that these tips are for a conventional furnace. And of course, call your trusted St. George HVAC specialists if you need help.
Make Sure The Power Is On
You’d be surprised at how easily checking the power can be overlooked. Quite a few service calls are made without checking on this. But this should be your first step to troubleshooting your furnace. There should be a switch on the side of the furnace. And don’t forget to check the power breaker. “Whenever electrical wiring has too much current flowing through it, these simple machines cut the power until somebody can fix the problem.”
If you aren’t sure about how to check your power with your circuit breaker, here are some tips for that process. Find the circuit that controls your furnace and make sure it is in the “on” position. Test it manually by flipping the switch back and forth. It should stay in the “on” position. If not, you likely have an issue with the circuit breaker or the wiring inside of it.
- Check the safety switch — Another reason why a furnace may not operate is because of the safety switch on the door. This switch stops the fan and burner from turning on when the access panel has been removed.
Check Your Thermostat
Someone may have changed the setting to “COOL” instead of “HEAT.” So, do a quick check and make sure the thermostat is set to “HEAT.” Another quick fix is determining if your batteries are drained in your digital thermostat. Programmable thermostats require batteries that hold your settings. Most will give you a “low battery” warning about a month before they need replacement. It is always good to change your batteries at least once a year. Set the temperature about five degrees higher than the room temperature and see if the furnace kicks on. You can also open up the thermostat and clean out any dust or debris that may have gotten in there.
It Isn’t Producing Enough Heat
When your furnace creates heat — but not enough — it could be because of your filter. Dirty filters are the most common cause of furnace problems. Changing or cleaning filters is a huge part of furnace maintenance. Luckily, it is easy. Here’s what you need to do. Make sure the furnace is off first. Then find the filter, most likely located in the intake. Take it out and hold it up to the light. This will help you recognize if your filter is really plugged up. Clean the filter to allow for better airflow and to allow your furnace to work more efficiently. If it is really bad, then replace the filter. When you put the new one in, check the direction of the filter because they are designed to trap matter blow from one direction.
Look For Obstructions
It is important to leave some space around your furnace so it can safely operate efficiently. Nothing that is flammable should ever be stored near the furnace! It’s a good idea to check and, if necessary, clean around the furnace periodically. Enough dust and lint can become a fire hazard. And if you have a high-efficiency furnace that’s venting with white plastic PVC outside the house, make sure it’s not blocked with snow.
Check The Burner Flames
The burners can stop working correctly because of contamination. You’ll need to make sure that the burners are clean. You can tell by looking at the flames if there is cleaning to be done. Blue flames are good. That means your burner should be nice and clean. Yellow flames are not so good. That means the burners are probably dirty. If you need to clean the burner, make sure the power and gas are turned off, and then use a vacuum to clean them. This is something that should be checked before the weather starts to turn cold. If you haven’t, we recommend doing that right now!
If it’s an older furnace, you will need to make sure the pilot is lit. A home with drafts or clogs in the heating system can lead to the pilot light going out. What you can try: turn the furnace power off and then back on, shut off the power and gas going to the furnace so the heating element can be inspected (it will need to be replaced if there are any cracks or damage), use your owner’s manual and follow the guidelines inside. If you are still having trouble, give us a call.
Inspect the entire gas line — starting at the furnace and then follow the line to see if it has been closed or the switch shut off. Check to see if your hot water tank is working. If not, it may be a gas supply issue to the house. The gas line should be set on “open.” This is another situation where the pilot light may come into play. If you need to re-light the pilot light, the instructions should be located on the side of the furnace. If it won’t stay on, you’ll need to consult with a professional.
Additional Furnace Not Working Problems
- Blower running continuously — This might be caused by a bad limit switch.
- Furnace turns on and off rapidly — This could be related to an old air filter. If the filter is ok, odds are there is a motor or belt issue that will require a professional.
- Gas smell — A gas leak is dangerous and you should immediately exit the home and call the gas company for an inspection.
- The furnace doesn’t blow air — You should be able to see through the inspection window to see if the blower is clear of debris. You’ll probably see a red or green light. Consult your owner’s manual to clarify what each color means.
- Airflow issues — Sometimes the problem is nothing more than a vent that is closed or blocked off. Double-check your vents when you have any air-flow issues in the home.
Contact A Heating Professional
If you still have not been able to get your furnace back on, it may be time to contact a heating professional. Not all furnace problems can be a do-it-yourself fix. These few steps may get your furnace up and running again. Knowing how your HVAC system works is important and will ultimately keep you comfortable and your heating and cooling bills from getting unnecessarily high. If your furnace stopped working and these steps did not solve the problem, give Alpine Temperature Control in St. George, a call to help you out!