Why Your Furnace Might Not Be Working

When your furnace quits working, (which always seems to be during a cold snap) it can be worrisome to deal with. More often than not, when your furnace gives out, it’s usually not the heating unit that’s actually to blame, but something else that’s causing things to go awry.

At Service Champions, not one heating season goes by where we don’t get calls from people complaining about their furnace. We decided to put together a collection of some of the most common culprits of furnace failure and an explanation of what might be happening to cause the issue.

Problem: Furnace Isn’t Heating
Possible Causes:
  • Thermostat – You might be surprised how many calls we receive where the furnace isn’t working because of a thermostat setting. Sometimes customers will call for service on their furnace only to have a technician check the thermostat and see that it isn’t set correctly. If your furnace isn’t functioning properly, check that your thermostat is switched to “heat,” the desired temperature is higher than the existing room temperature, and the fan is set to “auto.” If you have a programmable thermostat, you may need to override the settings to verify whether the thermostat is the issue or not.
  • Circuit Breaker – Check your circuit breaker. It could be tripped or blown and keeping your furnace from turning on. If your circuit breaker is tripped, try resetting the breaker to see if this fixes the problem.
  • Faulty Pilot Light – This is a common problem that can become quite frustrating when you don’t know why it’s happening. A pilot light can go out for a number of reasons. It could be caused by a faulty thermocouple or dirty gas tube and even a draft. If you suspect a problem with your pilot light, it’s best and safest to contact a professional to help diagnose and repair the problem.
  • The gas flow is inhibited. This can sometimes happen when the gas pressure regulator malfunctions and closes off the propane or natural gas feed or the valve has simply been closed off. If you suspect either of these scenarios, don’t try to troubleshoot it yourself. It’s safest to leave this to a trained professional.
Problem: Not Enough Heat
Possible Causes:
  • Dirty Air Filter – A clean air filter is very necessary for your filter to function effectively and efficiently. Dirty furnace filters clogged with dust, pet hair and other debris will inhibit the flow of air over the heat exchanger and make warming your home more difficult. Make sure you change your air filter every one to three months, depending on the variety.
  • Imbalanced airflow – If it doesn’t matter how often, and at what temperature, you run your furnace, some rooms never seem to be warm enough, it could be the airflow. In this case, it isn’t the furnace at all. To determine if this is the problem, you should have a full airflow analysis.
  • Leaky Ducts – Cracks, broken seals, and even poor insulation in your ductwork can permit warm air to escape, which makes it very difficult to keep your home warm. If you suspect this is a problem consider having your ducts professionally inspected and sealed or insulated.
Problem: High Energy Bills
Possible Causes:
  • Lack of Maintenance – Of all the furnace problems, a lack of furnace maintenance is the biggest culprit. When it comes to efficiency, a well-maintained furnace will always outperform its dirty, out of tune counterpart. You should plan on having your furnace professionally cleaned and maintained at least once a year to maximize on efficiency and performance. Units that run efficiently use less energy. When you are using less energy, you’re spending less money.
  • Unit is Past Its Prime – Efficiency, efficiency, efficiency. This is one situation where the problem might just be the furnace. Today’s newer furnaces operate much more efficiently than the older units of yesterday. If your unit is older than 15 years, you should consider purchasing a new furnace. The savings over the long run will outweigh the cost of the upgrade.

If you are having problems with your furnace and you suspect one of these possible causes listed above, it’s always best to contact a trained professional HVAC technician to help you verify your suspicions and make the best suggestions for improvement.

Service Champions is your leading HVAC specialist. Contact us online today to learn how we can help you.