It can be stressful and frustrating to feel like you need to call a professional every time you experience an issue with your home’s heating system. While certain problems will require a technician’s knowledge and equipment, others are simple enough for you to solve on your own.
If your home’s heater is acting up, use these troubleshooting tips to see if you can solve the issue or if you should call a heating repair company.
1. Double-check your thermostat’s settings.
Although it might seem elementary, make sure your thermostat is correctly set to heat your home. Even if you’re convinced you left it on the right settings, someone else in your household might have made adjustments that have caused your furnace to stop producing warm air.
- If your furnace is not turning on, your thermostat might not be set high enough to turn on.
- If your furnace is blowing out cold air, the thermostat might be incorrectly set to “on” instead of “auto.” The “on” setting keeps your system’s fan going, regardless of whether your furnace is actually warming air.
- If your thermostat is unresponsive or acting erratically, it probably needs new batteries. If it does not rely on battery power, contact a technician for a repair.
2. Change the air filter.
The air filter blocks dust, dirt, dander, and hair from entering your furnace’s blower. When the air filter gets clogged with these particles, it restricts the airflow that enters your furnace, which can cause the equipment to overheat, blow out un-warmed air, or break down.
Even if you’ve recently changed the air filter, these factors might have caused it to get dirty faster than it usually does:
- increased use of your heater
- more people in your house than usual (a common occurrence around the holidays)
- moving dusty boxes and containers in and out of closets
- new pets with fur
- indoor remodeling
To prevent air filter issues, check on yours every 30 days, and always buy more than one at a time so that you’ll have a replacement handy.
3. Check the circuit breaker.
Occasionally, your furnace might trip the breaker associated with it when something causes a brief power surge, such as an electrical grid issue or a lightning strike. Even if you own a gas furnace, its components (such as the blower) still require an electrical power supply to run. Plus, rather than a standing pilot light, many newer furnaces use electronic ignition to turn on.
If your furnace trips the circuit breaker, check the air filter before flipping the breaker switch back into position. If a clogged air filter is causing the blower to work harder and consume more energy than usual, your heater will probably trip the circuit breaker again.
Please Note: If your furnace trips the circuit breaker regularly, call a professional HVAC technician to inspect the equipment. There could be an issue with your furnace that’s causing it to draw more power through the circuit than it should. There might also be a problem with a short circuit or too many appliances on the same circuit.
4. Check the pilot light.
If your furnace won’t turn on or is unable to produce warm air, it might have an ignition issue. The standing pilot lights in older furnaces are supposed to be lit all the time. If yours has gone out, follow your equipment’s instruction manual to reignite it.
No matter how old your furnace is, if its pilot light is unable to ignite or stay lit, then it’s time to call a professional. In some cases, cleaning the burners will do the trick. If that doesn’t solve the issue, then there might be something wrong with the gas supply or the thermocouple.
The thermocouple will shut off your furnace’s gas supply if it detects that the pilot light has gone out or that the igniter has failed. Unfortunately, if the thermocouple is malfunctioning, it might be cutting off gas to your furnace at the wrong time.