furnace repair

Dresden is Getting Cold, but My Furnace Wont Turn On

Troubleshooting your furnace might feel like a daunting chore when your heat won’t turn on. But it doesn’t have to be like that.

There are several time-saving, reasonable fixes you can do by yourself to skip a furnace repair call.

If your furnace won’t turn on, won’t stay on or won’t ignite, try the troubleshooting list below before calling an HVAC professional.

If you find you need help from a professional and live in Dresden, McFadden Heating & Cooling can help you. We repair most brands of heating systems.

If you’re ready for a new heating system, we also provide furnace replacement in Dresden.

While you’re talking with us, think over an annual furnace maintenance plan from McFadden Heating & Cooling that may help you avoid repairs in the future. We can tell you how often your furnace should be examined by one of our NATE-certified professionals.

Follow our easy guide below to get started on troubleshooting your furnace. Most of these steps don’t require mechanical skills.

Steps for Furnace Troubleshooting

Check the Thermostat

First, make sure your thermostat is instructing your furnace to turn on.

If you have a digital thermostat:

  • Change the batteries if the screen is blank. If the digital screen is jumbled, the thermostat may need to be replaced.
  • Make sure the switch is set to “heat” instead of “off” or “cool.”
  • Ensure the program is showing the appropriate day and time and is set to “run.” If you’re having trouble overriding the program, set the temperature by using the up/down arrows and press the “hold” button. This will make the furnace to start if thermostat programming is causing a problem.
  • Increase the temperature setting to 5 degrees warmer than the room temperature.
Digital Thermostat

If your furnace hasn’t turned on within a couple minutes, make sure it has power by toggling the fan switch from “auto” to “on.” If the fan doesn’t run, your furnace could be without power.

If you have a smart thermostat—like one made by Nest, Ecobee, Lux, Honeywell or Bosch—troubleshooting is very model-specific. Check the manufacturer’s website for help. If you still can’t get your Wi-Fi thermostat to work, contact us for assistance.

Lennox Smart Thermostat

Examine Breakers and Switches

Next, you will need to check if your breaker and furnace switch are on.

  • Look for your house’s main electrical panel. If you don’t know where it is, keep an eye out for a gray metal box in your basement, garage or closet.
  • Make sure your hands and feet are dry before touching the panel or breakers.
  • Locate the breaker labeled “furnace” or “heat,” and make sure it’s switched “on.” If the breaker has tripped, it will be in the middle or “off” position.
  • Using one hand, firmly switch the breaker to the “on” position. If the breaker immediately trips and pops back to “off,” don’t touch it and contact a professional from McFadden Heating & Cooling at 1-866-781-0111 right away.

No matter your furnace’s age or brand, it has at least one standard wall switch located on or by it.

  • Make sure the switch is flipped up in the “on” position. If it was turned off, anticipate your furnace could take up to five minutes to turn on. (If you don’t know where to find your furnace, check your basement, garage or utility closet. It could also be in a crawl space or attic.)

Replace Your Furnace’s Air Filter

When it comes to furnace problems, a filthy, clogged air filter is frequently the top offender.

If your filter is too dirty:

  • Your furnace won’t stay on, or it could overheat from restricted airflow.
  • Your energy bills could be higher because your furnace is turning on too often.
  • Your furnace could break down too soon because a dirty filter causes it to overwork.
  • Your furnace can be cut off from power if an extremely dirty filter causes the breaker to trip.

Depending on what type of furnace you own, your air filter can be found inside the blower compartment of your furnace, an attached filter case or wall-mounted return air grille.

Replacing a furnace filter

To replace your filter:

  • Turn off your furnace.
  • Remove the filter and tilt it toward the light. If you can’t see light through it, get a new one.
  • Install the new filter with the arrow pointing toward the furnace to avoid damage.

Flat filters should be replaced once a month, while pleated filters should last about three months. You can also buy a washable filter that will last about 10 years. If you have children or pets, you may have to change your filter more frequently.

To make the process easier in the future, use a permanent marker on your furnace housing or ductwork to list the airflow direction and filter size.

Examine the Condensate Pan

Commonly known as drain pans, condensate pans capture water your furnace draws from the air.

If water is dripping out of your furnace or its pan has standing water in it, follow these steps.

  • If your pan has a drain (look for a PVC pipe), check that it isn’t clogged. If it needs to be drained, use a special pan-cleaning tablet you can purchase at home improvement or hardware stores.
  • If your pan has a pump, check the float switch. If the switch is stuck “up” with liquid in the pan, contact McFadden Heating & Cooling at 1-866-781-0111, because you will possibly need a new pump.

Peek Inside Your Furnace

If malfunctions keep on happening, look inside your furnace’s plastic window to confirm the status of the blower motor. Depending on the model, the light could also be fixed on the outside of your furnace.

If you see anything else besides a steady, colored light or blinking green light, call McFadden Heating & Cooling at 1-866-781-0111. Your furnace may be communicating an error code that needs professional assistance.

Clean the Flame Sensor

If your furnace tries to start but turns off without distributing heat, a dirty flame sensor could be at fault. When this takes place, your furnace will make an attempt to ignite three times before a safety feature turns it off for about an hour.

If you feel comfortable with opening up your furnace, cleaning your flame sensor is something you can do yourself. Or, one of our HVAC experts at McFadden Heating & Cooling can do it for you.

If you want to clean the sensor yourself, you’ll need:

  • A 1/4” hex screwdriver or wrench
  • Piece of light grit sandpaper, steel wool or emery cloth
  • A dry, clean paper towel

Next:

  • Disable the furnace’s power by using its wall switch or breaker. If your gas valve is not electric, you will need to shut off the gas as well.
  • Remove the furnace’s front panel and follow the wire to the flame sensor.
  • Unscrew the rod and use your sandpaper, steel wool or emery cloth to carefully rub the metal rod.
  • Wipe off the rod with a paper towel.
  • Remount the sensor.
  • Replace the furnace doors.
  • Turn the furnace’s power back on. It may go through a set of checks before continuing regular operation. If your furnace doesn’t start, the sensor may need to be replaced or something else could be wrong. If this happens, get in touch with McFadden Heating & Cooling at 1-866-781-0111 for assistance.

Relight the Pilot Light

If you own an older furnace, the pilot light could be turned off. To relight it, find the instructions on a label on your furnace, or follow these steps.

  • Find the switch on the bottom of your furnace labeled “pilot,” “on” and “off.”
  • Turn the switch to the “off” position.
  • Wait at least five minutes to avoid possibly creating a fire.
  • Turn the knob to “pilot.”
  • Hold down the “reset” button as you bring the flame of a long lighter to the pilot light opening.
  • Release the “reset” button once the pilot light is lit.

If you have followed the instructions twice and the pilot light still won’t light or stay lit, get in touch with McFadden Heating & Cooling at 1-866-781-0111.

Check Your Fuel Source

Try using another gas appliance. If it doesn’t work, your natural gas service could be turned off, or you could be out of propane.

McFadden Heating & Cooling Can Help with Furnace Problems

Followed our troubleshooting guide but your furnace still won’t work?

Call us today at 1-866-781-0111 or use our online scheduler. We’ll come out and figure out the problem.

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