furnace repair

West Jefferson is Getting Cold, but My Furnace Wont Turn On

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

There are several quick, reasonable fixes you can do by yourself to avoid 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 getting in touch with an HVAC professional.

If you find you need help from an expert and live in West Jefferson, West Jefferson Plumbing and Heating, Inc. can assist you. We service most types of heating systems.

If you need a new heating system, we also offer furnace replacement in West Jefferson.

While you’re talking with us, consider a routine furnace maintenance plan from West Jefferson Plumbing and Heating, Inc. that might help you avoid problems in the future. We can tell you how frequently your furnace should be checked by one of our NATE-certified experts.

Follow our easy guide below to start troubleshooting your furnace. Most of these steps don’t require mechanical abilities.

Steps for Furnace Troubleshooting

Check the Thermostat

To start, make sure your thermostat is telling your furnace to turn on.

If you have a digital thermostat:

  • Swap out 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” as opposed to “off” or “cool.”
  • Ensure the program is showing the appropriate day and time and is set to “run.” If you’re having problems overriding the program, set the temperature by using the up/down arrows and press the “hold” button. This will cause the furnace to ignite if thermostat programming is causing trouble.
  • Increase the temperature setting to 5 degrees warmer than the room temperature.
Digital Thermostat

If your furnace hasn’t kicked on within a couple minutes, make sure it has power by toggling the fan switch from “auto” to “on.” If the fan doesn’t start, your furnace may not have 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.

  • Find your house’s main electrical panel. If you don’t know where it is, look 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.
  • Find 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 West Jefferson Plumbing and Heating, Inc. at 614-450-1575 right away.

Regardless of your furnace’s age or brand, it has at least one standard wall switch located on or close to 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 ignite. (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 grungy, clogged air filter is often 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 go up because your furnace is turning on more than it should.
  • Your furnace could fail sooner than it should because a dirty filter causes it to overwork.
  • Your furnace can be cut off from power if an overly dirty filter causes the breaker to trip.

Depending on what type of furnace you use, your air filter is located 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, replace it.
  • Insert the new filter with the arrow pointing toward the furnace to avoid damage.

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

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

Examine the Condensate Pan

Commonly known as drain pans, condensate pans hold water your furnace pulls from the air.

If water is seeping 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 full. If it needs to be drained, use a special pan-cleaning tablet you can get at home improvement or hardware stores.
  • If your pan has a pump, take a look at the float switch. If the switch is stuck “up” with liquid in the pan, contact West Jefferson Plumbing and Heating, Inc. at 614-450-1575, because you will probably need a new pump.

Peek Inside Your Furnace

If malfunctions persist, peek inside your furnace’s plastic window to confirm the status of the blower motor. Depending on the model, the light could also be attached on the outside of your furnace.

If you see anything other than a steady, colored light or blinking green light, call West Jefferson Plumbing and Heating, Inc. at 614-450-1575. Your furnace may be communicating an error code that requires professional service.

Clean the Flame Sensor

If your furnace tries to start but shuts off without putting out heat, a dirty flame sensor could be to blame. When this occurs, your furnace will make an attempt to turn on three times before a safety feature shuts it down for about an hour.

If you feel comfortable with opening up your furnace, cleaning your flame sensor is something you can do on your own. Or, one of our HVAC specialists at West Jefferson Plumbing and Heating, Inc. 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 trace 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 could proceed through a series of checks before proceeding with normal operation. If your furnace doesn’t ignite, the sensor may need to be replaced or something else could be wrong. If this happens, get in touch with West Jefferson Plumbing and Heating, Inc. at 614-450-1575 for assistance.

Relight the Pilot Light

If you are using 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.

  • Locate 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 starting a fire.
  • Turn the knob to “pilot.”
  • Push 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 West Jefferson Plumbing and Heating, Inc. at 614-450-1575.

Check Your Fuel Source

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

West Jefferson Plumbing and Heating, Inc. Can Help with Furnace Problems

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

Call us today at 614-450-1575 or use our online scheduler. We’ll come out and figure out the problem.

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