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How do you troubleshoot a furnace problem?

2022 12 Wolcott Blog 4

In the chilly winter months, a furnace is essential for both survival and comfort. We would still be huddling around wood fires without it to keep warm. Unfortunately, in order to operate effectively and robustly, furnaces require regular expert maintenance and homeowner upkeep. Furnaces, however, can malfunction and develop issues that prevent normal operation even with routine maintenance. You can diagnose and fix your furnace yourself if you have some experience doing so. However, the easiest way to prevent the issue is to maintain a maintenance checklist for your heating system.

Troubleshooting of Furnace

If your furnace is acting up or refusing to turn on, go over these furnace troubleshooting tips first, before you call in the experts –


Is “heat” selected on your thermostat? If so, make sure your thermostat is set high enough to turn on the furnace. Keep in mind that the blower won’t start until the furnace has finished heating up. Be patient, then. Store your thermostat’s user manual close to it. In this manner, in the event that a startup issue arises, you can refer to its troubleshooting section.

You might need to open electromechanical thermostats and give them a light cleaning. Dust and dirt should be softly brushed off, especially the area around the metal coils and contact plates, using a soft paintbrush or something comparable. Try soft paper if your brush is too big. Make sure your thermostat is not being misread by sunlight, lamps, ovens, space heaters, or any other heat source by checking where it is located. The thermostat will produce the incorrect output if it is given the incorrect input.

Furnace Switch and Electrical Panel

Check to determine if your furnace power switch is off if your thermostat is functioning. Look for the switch that is attached to the furnace’s side. It might possibly just be a wall-mounted light switch. Some furnaces come equipped with a switch and a fuse. Look to see if it has burned and turned black. Replace it if necessary, then turn the switch back on.

Make sure the HVAC breaker is turned on if your breaker box has the necessary labels. Look for the breaker switch that is facing away from the others, even if you don’t have any labelling. You need to turn that breaker back on along with the others. Turn the switch completely off before turning it back on to reset your breaker. There need to be a click.

Look for a melted and discoloured fuse to turn on the power to the fuse box. Replace the fuse with one that is the exact same size and type by unscrewing the old one. Going to the store with an existing fuse and replacing it with an identical one is the best approach to find replacement fuses. Check to determine if the power to your furnace has been restored by turning on the switch. Contact a professional if the electricity is still out or the breaker keeps tripping.

Furnace Filter

Furnace filters that are dirty and clogged are a regular issue. Dust, hair, and other particles are captured by air filters. They might hinder airflow through your furnace system if they aren’t changed frequently. High quantities of pressure and heat can develop. When the filters are blocked, detectors in more recent versions prevent the furnace from working. Filters that are clogged also impede airflow. Even if your furnace is heating the air, it may not be able to transport it. If so, it is unable to heat your house. Check to see whether the issue is resolved by switching the filters.

Vents And Registers Closed or Blocked

Your outflow vents and registers may be closed or obstructed if your furnace is on but the house is still cold. This is particularly typical with floor-mounted heating ducts. Verify that your vents are open and unobstructed by carpets or furniture. Vents are frequently seen beneath windows, close to outside walls. Even long curtains have the potential to block airflow or reroute it in an undesirable manner.

Sometimes even when your furnace is working, your rooms aren’t properly heated or ventilated. Check all of the supply and return grilles in your house. All of them ought to be completely open and unhindered. Verify that there are no rugs, pieces of furniture, or other obstructions preventing airflow. In addition to impacting your comfort, clogged vents and registers can cause duct leaks owing to high air pressure and early furnace repairs and failures. It is NOT a good idea to block vents and registers in empty rooms. You won’t wind up saving any extra money, and your heating system will have more issues as a result.

Air Blocking

Not every furnace uses a chimney for venting. Deep snow, wind-blown leaves, insects, and wetness can cause problems with the exhaust of many contemporary furnaces because their fresh air intakes and exhaust pass through the side of the house. If this is the case, speak with a certified technician about your options for venting.

Pilot Light and Gas Valve

You will need to relight the furnace if you go to check the flame and it has gone out. You can relight the pilot on your own, but you should exercise additional caution and refer to your owner’s manual for the right procedures. Before attempting to relight the pilot, don’t forget to switch off the gas for 10 to 15 minutes. If you can still smell gas, stop right there! You might have a leak, in which case you should immediately escape the house and phone both the fire department and your gas company from a safe distance.

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