furnace repair

McMurray is Getting Cold, but My Furnace Wont Turn On

Figuring out a furnace-related problem might feel like a daunting chore when your heat won’t start. But it doesn’t have to be like that.

There are a couple of fast, reasonable fixes you can do 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 contacting an HVAC professional.

If you find you need help from a professional and live in McMurray, Kowalski Heating, Cooling & Plumbing can assist you. We service most makes of heating systems.

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

While you’re chatting with us, think about a routine furnace maintenance plan from Kowalski Heating, Cooling & Plumbing that may help you avoid problems in the future. We can tell you how regularly your furnace should be inspected by one of our NATE-certified experts.

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

Steps for Furnace Troubleshooting

Check the Thermostat

To begin, make sure your thermostat is signaling 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 correct 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 start 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 turned on within few 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. Refer to 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 have no idea 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.
  • Look for 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,” leave it alone and contact a professional from Kowalski Heating, Cooling & Plumbing at 724-370-0141 right away.

Regardless of your furnace’s age or brand, it has at least one standard wall switch located on or near it.

  • Make sure the switch is flipped up in the “on” position. If it was turned off, it could take your furnace 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 breakdowns, a dirty, clogged air filter is often the top offender.

If your filter is too dirty:

  • Your furnace won’t be able to stay on, or it could overheat from limited airflow.
  • Your energy bills could increase because your furnace is turning on too often.
  • Your furnace could break down sooner than it should because a dirty filter causes it to work overtime.
  • Your furnace can be cut off from power if an overly dirty filter causes the breaker to trip.

Depending on what model of furnace you use, your air filter will be 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 hold it up to 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 use a washable filter that will last about 10 years. If you have children or pets, you may have to put in a new filter sooner.

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

Examine the Condensate Pan

Also known as drain pans, condensate pans capture 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 purchase at home improvement or hardware stores.
  • If your pan contains a pump, take a look at the float switch. If the switch is stuck “up” with liquid in the pan, contact Kowalski Heating, Cooling & Plumbing at 724-370-0141, because you will probably need a new pump.

Peek Inside Your Furnace

If malfunctions persist, take a look inside your furnace’s plastic window to check the status of the blower motor. Depending on the model, the light could also be mounted on the outside of your furnace.

If you see anything except a steady, colored light or blinking green light, call Kowalski Heating, Cooling & Plumbing at 724-370-0141. Your furnace may be emitting an error code that needs professional service.

Clean the Flame Sensor

If your furnace tries to start but shuts off without distributing heat, a dirty flame sensor could be responsible. When this takes place, your furnace will attempt to turn on 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 on your own. Or, one of our HVAC specialists at Kowalski Heating, Cooling & Plumbing 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:

  • Turn off 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 track the wire to the flame sensor.
  • Unscrew the rod and use your sandpaper, steel wool or emery cloth to gently 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 run through a sequence of checks before resuming normal operation. If your furnace doesn’t turn on, the sensor may need to be replaced or something else might be wrong. If this happens, contact Kowalski Heating, Cooling & Plumbing at 724-370-0141 for assistance.

Relight the Pilot Light

If you have an older furnace, the pilot light could be extinguished. 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 starting 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, call Kowalski Heating, Cooling & Plumbing at 724-370-0141.

Check Your Fuel Source

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

Kowalski Heating, Cooling & Plumbing Can Help with Furnace Problems

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

Call us today at 724-370-0141 or use our online scheduler. We’ll come out and pinpoint the problem.

*Required fields