Four Easy Furnace Troubleshooting Tips Every Homeowner Should Know

Gas furnace repair

You have enough to worry about without having to stress over (and pay for) unexpected heating furnace repairs. Yes, we know what you’re about to say… We’re in the midst of spring, nearly to the brink of summer. Why in the world would you be stressing over heating furnace repair services right now? In fact, this is the perfect time to worry about your heating furnace repairs. The fact is, emergency heating furnace repair cost significantly more than hiring heating and cooling contractors during the off season, when they otherwise don’t have work to do. Not to mention, when the temperature dips down to twenty below shivering, this is not the time that you want to suddenly realize that your heater isn’t working! It is much better to catch these issues now, so you and your loved ones can stay toasty warm all winter!

When you test your heater out, and it gives you a big fat nothing, it might not mean that it’s going to cost you an arm and a leg. Here are a few important troubleshooting steps you should take before calling out a pro to come look at it:

  1. Make sure the thermostat is in working.
    This might sound like an obvious suggestion, but you’d be surprised how many people spend $200 on a heating contractor service call, only to realize the issue was a faulty thermostat (which often cost less than $200 in total to replace yourself). Here are a few simple thermostat issues to check:

    • Make sure the thermostat is set to “warm” and the temperature is set accurately.
    • Replace the batteries. If you have recently replaced the batteries or had a power outage, you may need to reset the unit.
    • Compare the temperature that the thermostat is reading with the actual room temperature. If that is off, the thermostat might not be telling the heater to turn on when it should.
    • Sometime the program settings get wonky and it throws the whole system off. You can bypass the programmable settings altogether by setting a specific temperature; this will help you narrow down the problem.
  2. Make sure the heating system is getting power.

    Sometimes your furnace is functioning fine, you just can’t tell because it isn’t getting any power. A few reasons your furnace might not be getting power include:

    • The power switch dedicated to the furnace is turned off (all furnaces have a light switch that cuts power to it, somewhere near the unit).
    • If a fuse is blown or a circuit is flipped; this could go unnoticed if the furnace is the only thing on that circuit.
    • If the front cover over the blower motor is loose — there is a “kill switch” that cuts power to the unit if this cover isn’t secure to prevent fire hazards.

  3. Make sure the filter is clean.

    The most common reason a heater isn’t working is because the filter is caked in gunk and air cannot flow through the condenser properly. If the heat exchanger has to work in overdrive to get the job done, it will burnout and shut off. If you can hear your blower trying to do its job, but no hot air is coming out of the vent, this is something to check. In fact, a new filter costs less than a morning latte; proactively replacing it is a good insurance policy for keeping your furnace chugging along.
  4. Make sure your furnace is getting gas.

    All furnaces have a gas line that keeps up and running, and they also have a handle that cuts the gas to the unit. Follow the gas line from the meter to the furnace. At some point, you’ll find the handle that turns it off and on. Make sure that someone didn’t turn off the gas to the furnace and forget to turn it back on.

    If your home is older, you may also have a pilot light that you should double-check. You can find this by removing the front cover of the furnace and looking for a wick. If you don’t see a small fire (think: approximately the size of a birthday candle fire), you might need to relight it.

Do you have any other furnace tips to share? Please contribute in the comments!

Leave a Reply