With hundreds of cities reporting record low temperatures and many others still recovering from extreme amounts of snow, furnaces around the country are working harder than ever to provide much needed warmth to homes and families. This means that if your heating equipment is aging or hasn’t undergone regular maintenance, you could be at risk of your furnace breaking down when you need it most.
When something we take for granted suddenly breaks down, like our electric, plumbing, or HVAC systems, it can be difficult to know how to fix it. Well, that’s why we have trained professional technicians! There are, however, many easy furnace troubleshooting steps that a homeowner can take to prevent and fix common furnace problems.
Here are some furnace troubleshooting tips to help prevent your furnace from breaking down and avoid the hassle and expense of a service visit:
Furnace Troubleshooting Tips
- The first place to look is your furnace’s air filter. Dirty filters are one of the most common and preventable maintenance problems in home furnaces. Leaving them unchanged for two months or more can cause a loss of inefficiency in the unit’s operation, leaving you with less heat, poor air quality, and could potentially stop your furnace from running entirely. Many modern, high-efficiency furnaces are sensitive to this problem and will shut themselves down before bigger issues occur, so if you can’t remember the last time you changed your filters now is a great time to get into the habit. Fortunately it’s a simple task for almost any homeowner. Some filters are meant to be cleaned with a hose, but most air filters are treated with a dust-catching oil which cannot be reused after washing. Follow the manufacturer instructions.
- Next, check your thermostat. Make sure your thermostat is set to “Heat.” The switch can sometimes be accidentally switched to a different setting. Many assumed furnace troubles can be rectified with some thermostat troubleshooting. Dirt and other debris, for example, can build up inside of the thermostat’s housing and cause problems in older electromechanical models that use a physical coil of expanding and contracting metal to tell your furnace when it’s time to kick on. Corrosion and loose wiring within the thermostat housing can also keep it from closing the circuit. Do not remove the thermostat housing to investigate inside without first cutting its power. This is a good time to check if your thermostat has power to begin with. Check to see if your thermostat uses batteries, as they may need to be replaced. If not, you can interrupt power to your thermostat at your home’s fuse or breaker panel, which brings us to our next step.
- If you’re sure your filter is clean, your thermostat is set and working normally but your furnace still doesn’t produce any heat it’s time to find your home’s breaker panel: your furnace may have drawn too much power and thrown its breaker switch. Even if your breaker box is poorly labeled, you can tell if any breaker switches have been thrown by looking for the one that’s out of place compared to all the others. To reset the breaker move the odd switch back to its proper position. If that doesn’t work, try switching it off completely and then back on.
Even if these furnace troubleshooting steps haven’t brought your heat back you’ve ruled out some of the simplest and most common problems. Keep investigating and you should hopefully be able to determine if you need to call for an HVAC technician or are facing an issue you can fix yourself. For more troubleshooting tips, check out this list of 9 Easy Tasks You Can Perform Yourself.
Good luck with your DIY furnace troubleshooting and if all else fails, the friendly professionals at Boulden Brothers would be more than happy to help. Give us a call at (302) 368-3848.
If you have any further questions on how to maintain your HVAC system, talk to the licensed, trained technicians at Boulden Brothers.
You can reach us at (302) 368-3848 24 hours a day, 7 days a week for all your plumbing, electric, propane, and HVAC needs.